Washington played a prominent role in the Beatles' stateside invasion nearly 50 years ago: On Feb. 11, 1964, just as Beatlemania was hitting our shores, the band played its first U.S. concert at the Washington Coliseum in Northeast.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the show next year, the D.C. Preservation League and Douglas Development are plotting to reenact the concert at the same venue, now a covered parking lot referred to as the Uline Arena, as one major send-off before the historic location is developed into offices and retail. The show, set for Feb. 11, will feature a cover band, Beatlemania Now, performing the same set list the Beatles did during that 35-minute show. They'll even start at 8:31 p.m., just as the Beatles did.
The concert, a fundraiser for the preservation league, also will feature an exhibition of photographs by Mike Mitchell, an 18-year-old shutterbug from Oxon Hill who attended the D.C. concert and captured the scene in striking black and white, as well as food trucks and events outside of the venue.
If you, like Al Gore, were in the crowd for that first show and want to re-live your glory days, know that there will be a couple of major differences: The Washington Coliseum's "stage" was actually a functioning boxing ring, so the Beatles were forced to perform a curious in-the-round concert for the 8,000 ticketholders in 1964 (check out the photo above).
Though the developer and the preservation league hope to re-create as much of the night as possible, the building's current condition no longer allows for in-the-round seating, explained Rebecca Miller, executive director of the preservation league. The capacity of the Uline is now just 3,500. "The arena is not shaped like it was once was. It's had severe neglect now," Miller says of the venue, whose glory days also included a visit by Malcolm X, concerts by the Rolling Stones and Patsy Cline and a wrestling match with Joe Frazier before he became a champion boxer.
Tickets for the show will go on sale Nov. 1 at www.beatlesyesterdayandtoday.com. Admission will be $45 for standing-room tickets; seated admission will be $100.