The following article appeared in New Musical Express on January 3, 1964, page 3
With sketches, scenery and production, Brian Epstein succeeds in injecting show business into his "Beatles' Christmas Show" at the Finsbury Park Astoria in London. The whole thing adds up to the kind of entertainment that audiences are rarely treated to one rock 'n' roll shows-writes Chris Hutchins.
The Beatles are seen on four occasions through the show, which is good value in itself. But with the added talent of Rolf Harris, and other 1963-born stars from Epstein's stable, it make for a bumper presentation.
The show has a clever opening with all the artists emerging from a helicopter to take their bow.
The subsequent sketch featuring The Beatles in doctor uniforms (giving us the first-ever glimpse of John Lennon wearing glasses on stage) was as weak as it was brief, but that hardly mattered as it gave a second glimpse of the Fab Foursome.
The Beatles provided a further non-musical interlude by way of their "Sir Jasper" sketch, which was brilliant in both its conception and their performance of it.
Fortunately someone had had the foresight to present the words they spoke on a screen behind them-for they couldn't possibly have been heard. At the display of the words "it is snowing", Ringo danced on stage wearing a grin we rarely see him with, scattering make-believe snow; as the villain of the plot John Lennon in cloak and top hat secured "Mrs." George Harrison adorned in a shawl and "her baby" to the railway line. But hero (of course) Paul McCartney saved George from the path of an on-coming train.
Red-headed Cilla Black took the stage for some lively numbers which she concluded with "Love Of The Loved". For a comparative newcomer, I like the way Cilla moves and belts out her songs.
I can't think of any entertainer in the pop business who could have filled the pre-Beatles slot as well as Rolf Harris did. He opened with "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport", but gave it lyrics concerning each of The Beatles, and couldn't have failed with lines like: "I'll scream and call 'til I fall, Paul"!
Then there was "Sun Arise", "English Country Garden" and - as The Beatles themselves were setting up their guitars behind the curtain - his latest record, "I've Lost My Mummy".
The Beatles closed the show in spectacular style. Overhead spotlights picked them out one by one on the darkened stage before they swung into the number which features George vocally, "Roll Over Beethoven".
The tempred things down with "All My Loving" and "This Boy" before Ringo went solo with the number John and Paul wrote for The Rolling Stones, "I Wanna Be Your Man".
Then there was "She Loves You" before Paul was singled out for "Till There Was You". The Beatles' current chart rider "I Want To Hold Your Hand" preceded the final two rousing numbers which John leads - "Money" and "Twist And Shout".
Of course this enormous theatre was frequently drowned by screams - but there was laughter and applause, too. It's true to say that there was never a dull moment in this throughly enjoyable show.
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