Wednesday, 3 October 2012

MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR (or the night I met Paul)


No, it hasn't got anything to do with my photographic project but I had to write something about my experience last night. I am a huge fan of The Beatles and happen also to be a member of the British Film Institute and so, when I saw that the new Arena Documentary about "Magical Mystery Tour" was scheduled to be shown, with the film itself, on 2nd October, I made sure that I booked a ticket online the moment that member's priority booking opened in August. I like to sit in the middle of the front row of the cinema whenever I watch a film and my favourite cinema is NFT! So, it is safe to say that I was delighted to book Seat A5 in the NFT1 for the early showing. It was billed as a Gala performance and so there were only a few tickets available to the public.

I arrived early to collect my ticket from the Box Office, bumping into my good friends Nick and Helen on the way in and then meeting Gordon Murray on the way out and then I heard over the loudspeaker that the audience had to take their seats for the 6.30pm showing even though it was only 5.45pm. On the way to my seat, I passed Liam Gallagher and also saw Paul Gambaccini and Paul Weller in the audience. The reason the start of the showing was delayed became clear when Paul McCartney was ushered to his seat towards the back. Anthony Wall stood up and spoke very briefly about the film and said that Arena had a long history of covering many amazing art works and artists but that, in his view, nothing was as important as this programme about the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour.

The Documentary was very good indeed and there are contributions by Paul, Ringo and George (from 1993) as well as Paul Fox, Paul Merton, Terry Gilliam and Martin Scorsese and it leaves you eagerly anticipating the film which followed after a short interval. During that interval, I chatted to this guy sitting next to me and he and his father both of whom went up to Paul and got his autograph. Years ago, I would have done the same but Jane has rammed it into my head that that is very, very uncool. I am the last of the very, very uncool but I controlled myself. 

The film followed and, quite frankly, in my humble opinion it is a minor masterpiece. I began thinking that it was way ahead of its time but it's not - it is absolutely OF its time. It is a very significant piece of Pop History and, like other examples of stunning works from the 1960s eg A Hard Day's Night, French New Wave Cinema etc, it is also timeless. It is a swirling extravaganza of colour and silliness (cf The Goon Show and Monty Python) and full of weird, strange characters that call to mind (well, mine anyhow) Fellini's "Amarcord" made some six years later. The new print is impeccable. And then, of course, there is the music. "Fool on a Hill", the instrumental "Flying", the incredible majesty of "I am the Walrus", the thumping introduction of the Title song and then the gorgeous, whimsical, magical, fabulous "Your Mother Should Know" not the best song on the record but accompanied and augmented by the deliciously surreal visuals. Bloody Hell, even "Blue Jay Way" sounds good! There were tears streaming down my face as the credits went up and there was a roar of approval amidst loud applause from the audience. I had to thank one of the architects of this wondrous piece of art. I moved swiftly up to the now vacated row behind Macca and rudely tapped him on the shoulder as he was talking to a friend in the row in front. He hesitated before he turned around and I proffered my hand and shook his and said "Thank You". I said that I was a good friend of his brother (I think I qualify as a good, if not a close friend don't I Mike?) and said thank you for all the pleasure he had given me over the years. He seemed a bit nonplussed but said "Oh, right, good". I bade him goodbye and left him to probably instantly forget yet another fan who had thanked him but I left floating ON A BLOODY ENORMOUS CLOUD. I realise many other people have met him but this was me. I called Jane and cried as I told her what had happened.

"Why so sad, old friend, why so sad on such a night? Not sad, not sad old pal, just happy to be alive"

I love all the Beatles but, for one reason or another, Paul has carried the flame more than the others and so I do have a big soft spot for him. Yeah, I know his voice is not quite as strong as it once was and yes, I know he has released some ordinary stuff over the years but it might seem ordinary because the other work is brilliant, and yet very often, there is a pearl that ranks amongst his best work.

I urge you to watch the Arena Show on 6th October -
and then the film - on a big screen if you can and at top volume for the songs, especially "I am the Walrus" and, if you like good melodic pop and exciting experimental cinema and you are sufficiently "out there", I guarantee that you will be humming one of the songs as you skip off to make a cup of tea at the end. 

"......the Magical Mystery Tour is coming to take you away!!" and a splendid time is guaranteed for all. 

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