Ringo Starr couldn't have looked more cool, calm or collected. Two hours before he stepped in front of more than 6,000 fans at the Greek Theatre, the ex-Beatle, just a week shy of his 76th birthday, welcomed a visitor into his dressing room as he relaxed in a chair, dressed monochromatically in a sleek black jacket, slim black jeans, matching T-shirt and tennis shoes. "The tour is great," he said of his latest All-Starr Band, which wrapped a 21-show 2016 U.S. tour concert with the sold-out homecoming show at the Greek. "You and I and a lot of people know this band -- we've been together now for four years," Starr said. "We get on well, the songs are still good, we enjoy playing and people are still coming out.
The long out-of-print "The Beatles: Live at the Hollywood Bowl" album will be reissued in significantly upgraded form on Sept. 9 in conjunction with the forthcoming Ron Howard-directed documentary, "The Beatles: Eight Days a Week -- The Touring Years." The album, originally released in 1977 and produced by longtime Beatles producer George Martin, included recordings from the band's three Hollywood Bowl concerts in 1964 and 1965 and was the only authorized live recording ever released by EMI and Capitol Records. "My dad mixed it in 1977 and he never liked it," Martin's son, Giles Martin, told The Times recently of the latest Beatles project he's working on since first working in tandem with his father to create the 2006 soundtrack to the Beatles-Cirque du Soleil "Love" show in Las Vegas. "I've been working with new sound technology that's allowed us to significantly improve the sound. But I think now it really captures the energy of the band at those shows."
Paul McCartney opened his 2016 One on One world tour on Wednesday night in, of all places, Fresno, at the Save Mart Center arena on the campus of Cal State Fresno. As he's been doing in recent years, along with return visits to major markets, the former Beatle and double Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee includes cities he has never visited, and chose to launch the new tour with his first performance in the Central Valley town of a half-million. No other California stops have been announced. In the beginning: For the first time on one of his solo tours, the show opens with "A Hard Day's Night," the title track from the Beatles' 1964 movie that begins with one of the most iconic chords in all of rock music. A giant video screen behind the stage projected scenes from the film and multiple other images from McCartney's life as he and the other four members of his touring band delivered meticulously arranged versions of more than three dozen songs from the Beatles and McCartney's solo career.
A modestly budgeted independent film documentary about a pop culture phenomenon that played out half a century ago is out-grossing multimillion dollar major studio feature films, proving anew a time-honored music industry adage, "Never underestimate the power of the Beatles." Ron Howard's new documentary, "The Beatles: Eight Days a Week -- The Touring Years," has played so strongly during its first week in theaters that virtually all are holding it over for at least a second week, and the film's distributor is nearly doubling the number of screens it will be shown on beginning Friday. "Any day when this little film can out-gross studio films in 48 of the top 50 theaters, it's in is a good day," Richard Abramowitz, president of the film's distributor, Abramorama, told The Times on Wednesday. "And by tomorrow, it will be 49 out of the 50." In the first three days after opening on 85 screens on Friday, Sept. 16, "Eight Days a Week" grossed 622,410, for a per-screen average of 7,322, Abramorama reported.
Nostalgic fans of a certain age who like to pontificate about how great music was in the '60s can cite a couple of new home video releases to back up their argument. Directed by Ron Howard, documentary Eight Days a Week--The Touring Years offers a concise, 100-minute survey of the Fab Four's career up to the point they stopped touring in 1966. Inevitably, it only skims the surface, but the music is (of course) terrific and the footage of the lads sending audiences into a hysterical frenzy captures the bizarre, sometimes frightening energy of the day. Extras on the two-disc edition include charming reminiscences by American fans and uncut performances of five songs that prove what a cooking live act they were. While The Beatles probably had to stop touring just to preserve their sanity, it's hard not to conclude from this engaging film that a special spark left their music when they retired from the road, even as their artistic ambitions expanded exponentially.