Recording and mixing the Shea Stadium concert
|The Beatles walking to the stage. Behind the Beatles you can see the tall, slim column speakers|
Social media posts about the Beatles tend to focus on anniversaries of special events during The Beatles’ career. So, since it was recently the anniversary of The Beatles’ concert at Shea Stadium, possibly the peak of Beatlemania, we were reminded of one of the often repeated misconceptions about that concert. In The Beatles’ Anthology, Ringo repeats that the sound – the audio of the concert – was brought to the audience through the stadium’s regular public address system. Paul McCartney also gets this fact wrong when talking about the concert.
The fact of the matter is, an array of Electro-Voice LR4 column speakers were set up on the field surrounding the stage, blasting the sound out to the huge audience of more than 55,000 people. What is true though, is that this was hardly sufficient for an audience this size, and especially since Beatles audiences tended to scream from the top of their lungs all through their concerts. So most people didn’t hear anything at all from the concert. And since this was the very first pop concert taking place in a stadium, it was a learning experience for all involved.
Matt Hurwitz has an excellent article in mixonline where he addresses the recording of the concert, and several attempts to mix the audio ever since. The article was posted in 2017, but was recently updated – so if you have read it before, there may be some new facts there for you: Mixonline: The Beatles at Shea Stadium.
The Beatles’ concert portion of the Shea Stadium film was restored in 2015 and the audio remixed (and let’s call it re-imagined) by Giles Martin and Sam Okell for special screenings in selected cinemas in conjunction with the screenings of Ron Howard’s 2016 Beatles documentary “Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years”. Sadly, it was not televised, nor was it included in home video versions of Howard’s documentary.
Several years ago, thanks to a memorabilia auction, an audio tape of the concert sound found its way to the bootleg marked, and was used as a selectable soundtrack of a bootleg DVD of the concert film.
The below is a video put together from the 2015 restored concert footage, and the soundtrack is a song they didn’t perform at the concert.