Atlanta - Fulton County Stadium
01- Introduction by Paul Drew
02- Twist and Shout
03- She's A Woman
04- I Feel Fine
05- Ticket To Ride
06- Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby
07- Can't Buy Me Love
08- Baby's In Black
09- I Wanna Be Your Man
11- I'm Down
The Atlanta Concert
by Tony Barrow
Daylight is fading and an illuminated digital clock on a billboard high above the stands shows the time to be 6:21pm. This might be any one of a dozen vast outdoor venues this tour is scheduled to visit. It happens to be Atlanta Stadium, the first American concert outside New York, on Wednesday August 18, Day Six in my diary.
Floodlighting has just been switched on. There are three tiers of stand seating around the sides of the field, one at ground level and others raised quite high. At present most of the seats are empty but Beatle people are starting to trickle in through at least twenty entrances.
The stage area is deserted save for a pair of lonely figures, those of Ira and Mal, making a final equipment check. It is a make-shift stage, set up just for tonight in the middle of the field. It consists of scaffolding, boards, white canvas and an unusually high rostrum for Ringo. It is uncovered so that rain, if any, will fall directly upon the musical and electrical gear making it all deadly dangerous. It is also unlit. There will be no special effects in that department, just a few powerful spotlights.
The Sounds Incorporated drum kit is in position where Ringo will sit for the second half. A large sign lights up at one end of the field: WELCOME! HAVE A GOOD TIME, MAKE AS MUCH NOISE AS YOU WISH BUT FOR SAFETY'S SAKE STAY IN YOUR SEATS.
The sound system consists of a cluster of large speakers in wooden boxes out on the field, pointing at different stands. Another sign reads: BASEBALL HERE THURSDAY 8:00, ATLANTA-TOLEDO. Now the clock reads 6:17 pm and it is amazing how swiftly the stand seats are filling up.
John appears in a dug-out to inspect the pre-show situation from ground level. Only his black cap is visible above ground so he remains unobserved by the fans. Neil points out the positions of the speakers, indicates the tunnel the Beatles will emerge from and makes sure John realizes the distance the group must run between there and the stage. At the end of the concert, instead of running back and risking a mobbing, the boys will pile into a limousine or maybe an ambulance or even a catering company truck which will be kept just behind the stage with it's engine running from the moment Neil gives a cue that the Beatles are beginning their last number. There is never an encore, never an unscheduled extra song, never a second's delay in the departure.
Three lines of police barriers have been set up between the stands and the field. Cops and stadium security guards pace up and down in the areas between the yellow wooden barriers which carry POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS signs. Other, drawn in from an entirely different department for the occasion say: BUREAU OF SANITATION.
George joins John in the dugout, and spots a lot of advertising. There is a Coca-Cola sign by the stage and an enormous billboard for Midas Mufflers to the rear. Ira explains that these are fixtures aimed at baseball fans as much as concertgoers. No the local concert promoter won't be getting any extra revenue from those signs tonight, George.
Now several deejays find their way into the same dugout as the two Beatles. It's getting a bit crowded. It's the cue for Jon and George to retreat promptly to their dressing room until showtime.
The backstage accommodation for the Beatles is not like any traditional theatrical dressing room. Like most of the rooms we're to encounter on the tour, it's basically a baseball team's changing room and looks exactly what it is. Tables have been put in and piles of cellophane covered food lie on then, dehydrating quickly in the hot and humid atmosphere. It's a terrible environment to test instruments and George has to give up any hope of tuning in his guitars properly.
There are half a dozen 'cots' in the room. These are what we call 'camp beds', not the type of thing we have in a baby's nursery! Ringo loves the use of the word 'cot' when he hears it for the first time, leaps onto one, curls up and sucks his thumb noisily.
Because of the clammy greenhouse atmosphere, the boys change for the stage at the very last minute. Mal hands a set of gleaming white shirts to Ira for distribution. He returns from some ironing room he's either discovered or created for himself with pressed suits, the dark material contrasting well with the brilliantly white cuffs and collars which will show from beneath.
Otherwise, everyone else is in shirt sleeves or t-shirts throughout the gig. All but Eppy, immaculate as ever in a superbly cut suit, but sweating more that slightly in his efforts to maintain his pristine visual image. His G.A.C. colleagues know the American summer climate and baseball park changing rooms too well to soak their best suits in sweat. There's no air-conditioning here and the giant fan Paul called for earlier is useless unless you stand directly in front of it.
"These suits are much more comfortable than the military jackets, Bri" comments Paul.
John joins in quickly: "The military jackets are last. They come much too high up at the collar, they get all 'round your neck."
Paul explains: "The trouble is they ruffle up behind our guitar straps and don't look very nice by the end of the act."
Brian Epstein makes mental notes and reminds everyone in the room that it's another quick getaway tonight. From the venue to the airfield, back onto the American Flyers Electra and off to the next city.
This is by far the best time to move on, straight after a show. The group relaxes in the aircraft, changes clothing, winds down, waits for the rest of the show people in the bus to catch up. When everyone is on boar, it's a midnight flight and a two or three o'clock arrival at our next hotel. This reduces crowd problems at airports to a minimum.
Tonight, coming out of Atlanta and fling directly to Houston, the plan to avoid the fans misfires. Even in the middle of the night, a number of particularly keen Beatle people are swarming all over our aircraft as we taxi towards the terminal building at Houston. It is quite frightening because some of those kids are smoking and our engines are still running. One of the lads suggests we take off again and give a prize to the last fans left clinging to each wing as the plane gains height. Yes, it was only a joke.....