Friday, November 18, 2011

The Rougher Side of Liverpool

Late 1961

The Beatles seem to be marking time, waiting for the next "something will happen".  They are playing many gigs at the Cavern and the Casbah, with a sprinkling of miscellaneous dates at places like Litherland and Knotty Ash town halls and a venue called Hambleton Hall.  It's a good time to reflect on some of the hazards of a life as a north of England rock band.  Hambleton Hall was one of the most awful places the Beatles played.  Sam Leach says of it "It was like a war zone.  It was terrible.  I was scared going in there.  There was gang fighting outside, Teddy Boys, you know."  One night at Hambleton Hall, after the show Paul and George are accosted by a gang of toughs and given a sound beating. I'm sure they saw it as an inconvenience to be avoided where possible and endured when not.  That they could accept this as the price of  following their muse says a lot about their determination.

Page Moss, where Hambleton Hall was located, is still a place of youth gang activity as shown in a BBC "Panorama" in 2008.  A bit of imagination makes clear the kind of proletarian places, with their thinly veiled atmosphere of hopelessness and violence, the Beatles brighten up and enliven with their music.  But that phase of their careers will soon be coming to an end.  They have been well prepared for the next step.

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