Making rock history is a tricky business. Hendrix had to set his guitar on fire to do it. Unluckily, Bob Dylan had to make his fans really angry, then fall off a motorbike. For the Beatles, their last attempt at underlining their position in the Great History of Rock and Roll involved hoisting a load of equipment up onto the roof of a building in the freezing cold winter, and awkwardly trying to re-ignite the magic. As far as farewell gigs go, it was nothing if not memorable, though the strained joviality, and bitterness in the eyes of our heroes made for a sad farewell, rather than a joyous send off.
But, like most things, the proof is, indeed, in the pudding. The Beatles last hurrah as a band ultimately proved to be an epic send off, an iconic farewell that has echoed down the ages. The 30th of January, 1969 has passed into legend as a moment to remember, and a touchstone of cool. Well, Harrison’s and Lennon’s woolly coats might not have been cool, and Ringo was sporting a rather unfortunate little ‘Red Riding Hood’ style number, but history tends to overlook these things.
The Snoodles – Don’t Let Me Down
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In the years that have since passed, bands have attempted to tap into this piece of history by aping their heroes, succumbing to the now clichéd ‘rooftop performance’. U2 in their atrociously bad 1989 film, Rattle and Hum (U2 go to America and get the blues, whilst the audience puke their eyeballs out at the cheap crassness of the whole endeavour) clamour for their place in the pantheon of greats by playing on the roof an office building and stopping the traffic. Echo and the Bunnymen did it to ‘promote’ their 1987 self titled album. In the Simpsons, the B- Sharpes reunited on the roof of Moe’s Tavern, only for a disdainful George Harrison so drive past, exclaiming, “It’s been done…”
Interestingly, of all the bands mentioned so far, only U2 managed to stay together after their rooftop performance, perhaps because they have made an evil pact and cannot be killed by conventional weaponry.
It is with this in mind, that we trudge to the roof of the Oh Yeah building in Belfast, where members of A Plastic Rose, And So I Watch You From Afar, and MojoFURY have thrown caution to the wind – both metaphorical and literal – and decided to recreate the Beatles performance, 40 years later to the day.
The wind and rain are howling in the bones of our faces (as Bob Dylan didn’t quite sing), and the conditions can only really be described as “Truly Horrible”. Equipment is strapped down to the ground, as the wind threatens to hurl the PA off the roof of the building, right on top of a curious policeman, who is greedily eyeing up all the illegally parked vehicles outside. However, the spirit of Lennon and Harrison must have been looking down upon us, as the rain eased off slightly, allowing some level of calm to descend upon the scene.
The Snoodles – Come Together
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The Bandwidth films team scurrying around between us, intently wanting to capture this glorious spectacle, your correspondent found himself surrounded by musicians united by their love of the Beatles, and a general predisposition towards mischief. Talk breaks out as to who will be the first to be arrested, as guitars are tuned, drums are hit, and Gerry Norman’s hat defies the laws of physics by remaining rooted to his head, despite what seem like gale-force winds.
After a short wait, in which water began seeping through my tired and old shoes, the band begin to play. Bizarrely, amid the wind, and the drizzle, and the fact that I feel like I’ve developed a bad case of trench foot, the band really begin to play, their enthusiasm becoming completely infectious. Office workers in the surrounding area throw open their windows to hear the music, and a bunch of construction workers on some nearby scaffolding begin shouting their appreciation.
The Snoodles – Get Back
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Three songs later, and it’s all over. History has, indeed been made. And, in keeping with the curse of the rooftop gig, this conglomeration of bands, loosely called either And So I Watch Your Plastic Mojo, or The Snoodles, spilt up, having just preserved for all eternity their one and only performance.
If this is history, let it be known that I WAS THERE! If not, my feet will someday recover, and it beats sitting in the office any day.
And perhaps that’s the true legacy of The Beatles?
Director: Will McConnell
Camera: Will McConnell, David Neill, Genevieve Ewing
Sound: David Donnelly, Andrew Melville