The 40 greatest concerts in Boston history: 7

The Beatles | Suffolk Downs | August 18, 1966
By PHOENIX STAFF  |  October 26, 2006

concerts_7

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Promotional poster for the Beatles' Suffolk Downs show
It was impossible to see the Beatles and actually hear them. “All you could hear was the screams and a kind of low rumble, which was the music,” says Johnny A, the Boston-based guitar star whose life was changed by the Fab Four. Although the Beatles had appeared in Boston once before, on September 12, 1964, this Suffolk Downs show nearly doubled the Garden audience of 13,000 as the group was ramping up to the height of its success touring behind Yesterday . . . and Today (Capitol). A’s account of the raggedy sound and swirl of humanity click with the Beatles own frustrations about the sonic and experiential quality of their live performances, which would make the Suffolk Downs show one of the very last Beatles dates. “This was my first real concert,” A says. “I was at the front with my face pressed into the chain link fence. They had the band playing out in the middle of the racetrack. It seemed like they were a mile away but it was maybe 100 feet. It was chaos through the whole set, which lasted something like 20 minutes. What they played is kind of blurry. You had to block your ears to filter out the high end, all the screams, to hear some of the music. George Harrison did ‘If I Needed Someone,’ they did ‘Long Tall Sally’ and, I think, ‘Nowhere Man.’ It was hard to hear, but still an amazing experience.”
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