Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Beatles Story, Liverpool

The Beatles Story is an exhibition so large it has two locations along the Merseyside docks of Liverpool. We started our adventure at the main exhibit on the Albert Dock and then walked a short way upstream to see the Fab 4D movie and Elvis exhibit (since he was a big influence on the lads).

The main exhibit doesn't stick out like you'd think such a popular spot would. The Albert Dock has a bunch of plain brick warehouses. This exhibit is underneath one of the warehouses with only one small round sign above the stairs.

Ringo always looks so happy

We waited in line to get in, since it was Saturday morning and we got there a little later than we thought we would (around 10:30). The wait wasn't too long. We got inside and waited on another line for another 10 minutes to buy our tickets and get our audio tour guides. J and L both wanted their own, which was a bit of a challenge. J must have swapped his out four times before he found headphones that "worked" for him. Eventually, we adults had to carry all the guides after the children lost interest.

The most interesting part of the exhibit for me was the first bit, where the pre-history of the Beatles is described. John Lennon and Paul McCartney knew each other through school. Lennon had a band called the Quarrymen that played skiffle music. Skiffle's distinctive sound comes from the home-madeness of the instruments, including things like washboards and improvised drums. It is a blend of jazz, blues, and folk music. The boys had some second-hand guitars and would play together and do shows. They did local performances and also went to Hamburg, Germany, where they would perform and perfect their material.

Less famous "German invasion" by the Beatles

Eventually they were booked at the Cavern Club on Mathew Street where they would play in between other bands or do lunch time gigs. The exhibit has a recreation of both Mathew Street and the Cavern Club. The club is amazingly small, so it's easy to see how they could play to packed audiences. Another interesting tidbit is that the club didn't serve alcohol, just coffee and snacks and such. If band members wanted to wet their whistles, they'd cross the street for a pint at the pub.

Mathew Street replica

Taking my daughter clubbing!

Inside the Cavern Club

J at the stage (we weren't allowed on stage)

The exhibit continued with their recording careers. We saw quite a few vintage recording studios and heard explanations of how they recorded at various locations. Interestingly, the band had a different drummer, Peter Best, who was replaced by Ringo Starr in the summer of 1962, just before they hit the big time.

Roll tape!

One of George Harrison's guitars

Their career took off in grand fashion and many of their more iconic moments and images are captured in further exhibits.

Drugless psychedelia

Their famous tour

From the Yellow Submarine movie

Inside a Yellow Submarine

The exhibit also includes an extensive interactive area especially good for children. J and L loved the virtual floor piano where they could stomp out tunes. One of the final rooms had four corners, each dedicated to the post-Beatles lives of the Fab 4. The most amazing thing to the children was the fact that the Beatles are real people and not just characters made up for The Beatles: Rock Band.

We started to get hungry and left for some lunch. Then we walked down the dock to the other Beatles Story exhibit which featured the Fab 4D Movie experience. The movie is like an amusement park ride. In addition to wearing 3D glasses, we sat in seats that moved around in sync with the movie. And occasionally we were squirted with water or had bubbles blown at us. It was fun for L. J was a little nervous at first but got into it. The movie was an animated story of a boy who wants to go out with a girl and also play at a concert but he has to get their by bus. Naturally, it's a magical mystery tour with lots of weird things happening. Things turn out alright in the end. I wasn't all that impressed with the show but it wasn't too long so it didn't overstay its welcome.

The other building also had an Elvis exhibit, though there wasn't too much to see. The gift shop was quite extensive though!

J and the Amazing Technicolor Wardrobe

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