Tahlequah Daily Press

Get the scoop!

February 12, 2014

Beatles fans take magical history tour 50 years later

WASHINGTON — Under the concrete ribs of the barrel-shell roof of a crumbling coliseum, the capital awaits the Beatles. Or, rather, the Beatles tribute band. The real thing is exactly 50 years gone on this Tuesday night, in this exact spot in Northeast Washington, and Washington must make do with imitation, with nostalgia, with the reverb of the past.

"I'm listening to the Supremes and then all of a sudden on my transistor radio: 'I sawww herrr staaan-ding there,' " says Steve Daugherty, 59, who's in from Chantilly, Va. with his wife, Chris. They're wearing Lennon-esque spectacles and holding tall-boy beers, their breath fogging in the meat-locker air of the Washington Coliseum, the site of the Beatles' first North American concert, on Feb. 11, 1964. The Daughertys are here for the music, they say, but might they also be here to recapture a long-ago feeling?

"Oh, yeah," he says.

Behind the stage, in a cramped trailer that's 40 degrees warmer an hour before showtime, four men from America spray their wigs, pencil their eyebrows and button themselves into black-lapelled gray suits until they are four mop-headed lads from Liverpool. Beatlemania Now, the expert imitators of that night 50 years ago, are being watched by a man who was there, opening for the Beatles: the singer Tommy Roe.

"It's kind of spooky," says Roe, who will now open for an imitation, half a century later. Also, says Roe: "Surreal."

"They're Lennon-colored but when you get older, they're not as bushy," says Scot Arch, aka John, as he pencils away in front of a mirror.

"And I wonder how Paul and Ringo keep their hair so brown," Roe says with a glint in his eye, his hair a distinguished and well-adjusted gray.

"Ringo definitely dyed it recently," says Ringo, aka Eric Smith, 37, who adds that when he's on stage, "I'm not Eric Smith. It's not my interpretation. I'm trying to replicate. [Ringo's] mannerisms have become my own."

Roe exits the trailer, lopes through the cold, black backstage area, mounts the stage and plays "Sheila," as he did 50 years ago, when there was a thick vibe of anticipation.

Now, there are comb-overs in the audience, and Styrofoam cups of hot chocolate. The shrill hysteria over something new has been replaced by polite applause for something old. The national addiction to nostalgia continues, and the present stays bearable. The coliseum tonight is a physical place to hide away.

Oh we believe/

In yesterday.

Reality intrudes occasionally. After Roe'sset, there is an AARP sweepstakes drawing.

There are indeed young people here, people who were born years after the Beatles broke up, years even after John died. Legal assistants Jon Campbell, 24, and Daria Kasparek, 23, are here because of their parents, whose musical touchstones became theirs.

"In a sense, it's nostalgia," Kasparek says. The music "reminds me of driving to school in the morning and my mom playing the Beatles' greatest hits."

The re-creation isn't total, of course. The boxing-ring stage from 1964 is gone. The audience capacity in 1964 (about 8,000) is now about half that. John, Paul, George and Ringo were between 20 and 23 years old at the time. At least two of the men of Beatlemania Now are older than 30. Seats in 1964 were $2 to $4. On this Tuesday night, that won't get you a drink ticket ($5), let alone a seat ($100).

A competing Beatles tribute band called the Fab Four is scheduled to perform at the same time at the Howard Theatre in Washington. The coliseum — originally used for hockey, these days for parking, and in between for roller derbies, rodeos and the Ice Capades — will soon undergo a $77 million renovation and revert to its original name, the Uline Arena, thanks to the D.C. Preservation League and Douglas Development.

Where once there were music-driven riots and teenagers losing their minds, there will soon be a boutique honeycomb of offices and retail. The future wins, always.

But on this night, for one night only again, the Beatles haunt the coliseum in shadows and echoes.

"What time is it?" asks George, aka Chris Colon, from the backstage steps.

"8:27," says a stagehand. "No, 8:28."

"I have 8:29," Colon says.

They have to go on at 8:31, because that's when the Beatles went on.

And they do, as they did, and they bang out the hits that were banged out before. "I Saw Her Standing There," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "She Loves You." Ringo has that hangdog wince. Paul, aka Graham Alexander, is doing that guppy-mouth thing that Paul does, or did.

A lone redhead in the audience is standing and dancing during the first few songs. The rest of the crowd slowly joins her, until nearly everyone is shimmying upright for "Twist and Shout," and wiping their runny noses in the cold.

With the theatrical fog hazing the tableau, with the golden spotlights blurring the hard edges, with the right amount of beer in your gut — you can almost believe it was then and not now.

1
Text Only
Get the scoop!
  • 20140727-AMX-GUNS271.jpg Beretta, other gun makers heading to friendlier states

    In moving south and taking 160 jobs with it, Beretta joins several other prominent gunmakers abandoning liberal states that passed tough gun laws after the Newtown shooting.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 28, 2014

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

  • HallofFameBraves.jpg Hall of Fame adds businesslike Braves, Frank Thomas, managers La Russa and Torre

    Atlanta Braves pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, and their manager, Bobby Cox, dominated much of baseball during the 1990s. This weekend they went into the Hall of Fame together.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • How spy agencies keep their 'toys' from law enforcement

    A little over a decade ago, federal prosecutors used keystroke logging software to steal the encryption password of an alleged New Jersey mobster, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., so they could get evidence from his computer to be used at his trial.

    July 26, 2014

  • Brother sues W.Va. senator over business loan

    U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin's brother claims he's owed $1.7 million that he loaned to keep a family carpet out of bankruptcy in the 1980s.

    July 26, 2014

  • Lynette Rae Sampson.jpg Say what?: Woman arrested after calling EPD to complain her meth was ‘laced’

    A 54-year-old Enid woman is facing felony drug charges after allegedly calling police earlier in the week and telling them she thought her methamphetamine was laced with something. Woman to officer: "I'm glad you came."

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Facebook continues moneymaking trend

    Facebook seems to have figured out - for now at least - the holy grail for all media right now: how to make money selling mobile ads.

    July 25, 2014

  • Russia's war on McDonald's takes aim at the Filet-o-Fish

    Russia said earlier this week that it had no intention of answering Western sanctions by making it harder for Western companies to conduct business in Russia.
    But all bets are off, apparently, when you threaten the Russian waistline.

    July 25, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Inequality crisis shot with factual problems, hypocrisy

    President Obama, various media and political liberals say inequality, of all things, is the defining issue of our times. Yet this message is delivered by multimillionaires and a president who jets from tee time to stump speech on the taxpayer's dime.
     

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • photo of oil tanks and fiberglass salt water tank.jpg Officials investigate oil-covered barn owls, dead birds

    “These birds got into a saltwater tank that was full. Most of it’s saltwater, but there’s the scum of oil on top of it. That’s the reason why the (Oklahoma) Corporation Commission and federal rules say that those tanks have to be covered." — Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Major County Game Warden Lt. Frank Huebert

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 25, 2014

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Stocks