It was 20 years ago today…well, a little longer than that, actually. On this day 53 years ago, January 2, 1969, The Beatles were coming together at Twickenham Film Studios for the first day’s work on their Get Back project.
Weeks of jokey chit-chat, passive-aggressive tetchiness and sporadic moments of musical brilliance ensued, as the millions who have watched The Beatles: Get Back, the eight-hour mini-series based on the troubled recording sessions since its November release will be aware.
The Beatles split up 52 years ago yet the exhaustive documentary was the most talked about TV event of 2021 and there are still facts to be learned and theories to be unearthed about the greatest pop band in history. Nonetheless, armed with a mountain of biographies, box sets and a Disney+ subscription, the cynical fan will wonder how much is actually left to learn.
No pressure, then, The Beatles Story.
As it turns out the museum, on Royal Albert Dock, in Liverpool is, well, a magical history tour.
A close-up look at John Lennon’s famous Imagine glasses reveals they’re bent, because Lennon threw the spectacles in the bin during a furious row with Yoko Ono.
“It’s not like they’re 14-carat gold or anything,” you can imagine Lennon drawling. Well, actually, they are!
At the other end of the spending scale is George Harrison’s first guitar, bought from a school pal for £3 10s.
Remakes of the marching band uniforms worn on the iconic cover of Sgt Pepper’s could pass for the real thing.
Producer George Martin’s handwritten notes, outlining his detailed schedule for the Help! recording sessions, hint at the sort of orderliness that was lacking from the efforts at Twickenham, where Martin was rarely seen.
The recreation of The Cavern, the club where the four-piece played to devoted fans, is impressive, particularly the stage wall adorned with the signatures of the Fabs’ contemporaries – The Searchers, Gerry, Cliff…
Even as the wind blows in off the Mersey, Royal Albert Dock is brimming with tourists. Think of the phrase “Liverpool Mountain” and the first thing that comes to mind is a tough-tackling Liverpool footballer of yesteryear: perhaps rugged centre-half Neil “Razor” Ruddock, or Troon-born trophy-winning machine Steve Nicol. But it’s actually the name of the 32ft sculpture outside Tate Liverpool, just a short walk from The Beatles Story.
The bright stick of blue, green, orange, red and purple boulders, each weighing half a tonne, stacked on top of each other by artist Ugo Rondinone seems to defy gravity, bold amid the browns and greys of the docks.
Nearby, the statue of rocker Billy Fury struts its stuff. The Resident Hotel is about a 10-minute walk from the docks, in the trendy Ropewalks neighbourhood. Inside the brick-fronted hotel, the first thing to catch the eye is an exotic mural by Ron Diennet in the residents’ lounge.
My room has a super-comfy kingsize bed, flatscreen TV, en suite bath and shower, and kitchen area with fridge, kettle and crockery.
The hotel doesn’t have a restaurant, although it does have money-off deals with nearby eateries, and staff have lots of tips for where to go depending on your taste.
After drinks at nearby Head of Steam, and The Keystone, a bustling, recently relaunched ale-stop in a classy Georgian townhouse, dinner at Slim’s American diner seems a good option. A Slim’s cheeseburger, on a brioche bun, with lettuce, pickles, fries and coleslaw, hits the spot.
The Resident is a short walk from Liverpool One, the open-air shopping complex. But, better still, and even closer, is Bold Street, one of the best independent shopping scenes in the UK: from music T-shirt emporium Resurrection to vintage boutiques, record shops, charity stores and indie eateries including the wonderfully named pastry pitstop Pieminister. See also Bold Street Coffee, where the egg box – scrambled egg, melted cheese, avocado, tomato and sausage on granary toast – is a breakfast winner.
Alas, visiting in mid-December, redevelopment work around Lime Street Station means walking through a building site. Christmas 2022 should be different. If so, satisfaction’s guaranteed.
The Cavern Club closed in 1973. But a new Cavern Club opened nearby, later renamed as the Revolution Club, then Eric’s. The Cavern returned anew in the ’80s and attracts fans to Mathew Street to this day.
The Resident Hotel has rooms available from £59
(Sun-Thurs) £99 (Fri/Sat). For more information, and to book, visit residenthotels.com
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