When the Beatles came through the United States on what proved to be the group's final tour in 1966, the newest record album by John, Paul, George and Ringo was "Revolver."
The sitar was settling in as a stronger influence in the music, and the longer hair, droopy mustaches and Eastern philosophical lyrics were beginning to turn the foursome's clean-cut, mop-top image on its ear.They were changing; we were changing. Had it really been only two years since the "Meet the Beatles!" album knocked everything else off the charts? "She Said, She Said" seemed a long way from "I Wanna Hold Your Hand."
That was the summer after I graduated from high school in Southern California, and I was fortunate enough to be one of the frenzied crowd that went to see and hear the Beatles at Dodger Stadium - though without binoculars you didn't see much and it was sometimes hard to hear over the din of the screaming throng.
But it was clear, even to the crying, shouting girls who leaped out of the stands and had to be restrained by security guards, that the group had changed. These were no longer the innocents who made TV history on "The Ed Sullivan Show" two years earlier.
Nowadays, the Beatles are usually remembered for their later, groundbreaking work - "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "The Beatles" ("The White Album"), etc.
But those earlier, more innocent days obviously hold fond memories for fans, as the success of "1964" attests.
The show is called " `1964' as The Beatles," and most of the songs played and sung Monday night were indeed early Beatles. Bob Miller (he's the new guy) as George Harrison, Greg George as Ringo Starr and especially Gary Grimes as Paul McCartney and Mark Benson as John Lennon are remarkable at evoking the Fab Four - physically and musically.
They established the tone immediately by beginning their 34-song set with "I Saw Her Standing There" and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand."
Benson's gum-chewing Lennon, Grimes' sleepy-eyed McCartney, Miller's bored-looking Harrison and George's grinning, head-shaking Starr, all dressed authentically and playing flat-string guitars, looked great. Benson and Grimes were very good at imitating Lennon and McCartney's voices, though they faded a bit on the falsetto notes.
In the past, "1964" has played in Symphony Hall, which offers both better acoustics and a smaller showplace. In the huge Huntsman Center Monday evening, the band's stronger riffs tended to become shrill and tinny and the auditorium seemed almost empty.
But when "1964" enthusiastically broke into familiar numbers like "Love Me Do," "All My Lovin'," "Please Please Me" and "Can't Buy Me Love," the audience - ranging from those with pacifiers to those with braces, from grandparents with their grandchildren to yuppie families - came alive, clapping, applauding, screaming, singing along . . . .
It was almost like being back in Dodger Stadium, though I could see and hear them. And no one was arrested.
There were a few later songs - one of the best being "Taxman" - but all were from the 1964-66 period.
Some solos were better than others, but when they were jamming together, they really hit the mark. And Benson was funny doing Lennon shtick.
Crowd-pleasers - songs that turned the main floor into a dance floor, included "Eight Days a Week," "I Should Have Known Better," "A Hard Day's Night," "She Loves You" and too many others to single out.
The nearly two-hour show moved along very quickly and suggested renewed respect for those early tunes as both delightfully simple love songs and good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll.
It's definitely time to dust off those early albums and play them again - loud. Don't drive off the road while you're tapping your feet.