Graham Reid | | 2 min read
If you want a photo of just them, or just you with them, then get there early. Because by mid-morning there will be dozens of people with their phones out around the bronze statues of the Beatles at Pier Head in Liverpool.
These impressive, larger-than-life and realistic figures of the Beatles in their early years – suits, boots, narrow ties and that hair – appear to be ambling casually towards the Mersey Ferries office to buy tickets for its informative boat trip down and up the river.
Or maybe to shop for Beatle memorabilia in that strikingly angular building.
Not that anyone needs look too far in Liverpool for Beatle beanies, mugs, fridge-magnets, calendars, key rings, photos, books, CDs . . .
Parts of this vibrant city – notably around Mathew Street and the Cavern Quarter – are awash with Beatle product.
Here's a city the Beatles sometimes referenced in song – Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, the Cast Iron Shore – and made the grimy place of their childhood seem exciting and even romantic “beneath blue suburban skies”.
For many, even now, Liverpool appears in monochrome with post-war ruins familiar from photos which appeared when the young Beatles broke through all those decades ago.
Yet today, commanding contemporary architecture makes Liverpool one of the great cities of Britain, a place with an extraordinary present but often wedded to the past with a soundtrack by the Beatles.
As British cultural critic Peter Doggett wrote, “these four men created music of such joy and inventiveness it captured the imagination of the world, and has never lost its grip”.
But he also noted the nostalgia many feel isn't for the Beatles, it's for their own past “stripped of pain and ambiguity”.
In 2023 it will be 60 years since the Beatles had their first number one hit in Britain -- Please Please Me --and 1963 became their year. Other hits and a massive selling debut album followed, “John, Paul, George and Ringo” became household names and by the end of that remarkable year – the excitement traveling to far-flung New Zealand, America getting it in 1964 – there was a name for the phenomenon and noise: Beatlemania.
Liverpool doesn't need to commemorate the anniversary of Beatlemania next year, it celebrates the group and its music constantly, sometimes in rather tacky and exploitive ways.
Mathew Street, the site of the original Cavern where the Beatles played, is very different today than it was even a decade ago . .
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