When The Beatles were at the height of Beatlemania in 1964, getting tickets to watch them was an unattainable pipedream. Still, their performance at London’s Empire Pool at the New Musical Express’ 1963-64 Annual Poll-Winners’ All-Star Concert saw them bring out all the stops for a set in front of 10,000 adoring fans who couldn’t believe their eyes.
If a Beatles set in 1964 didn’t already sound like perfection, then consider that other bands appearing before their appearance included The Rolling Stones, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Searchers and much more. However, despite all the supporting cast trying to reach for The Beatles crown, they defiantly proved that nobody was worthy of going toe-to-toe with the Fab Four who were operating on a saintly level of their own.
The most triumphant moment came when they introduced the crowd to their latest chart hit, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, released on March 16th, a little over a month before their iconic performance at the Empire Pool. The single provided The Fab Four with their record-breaking third consecutive number one hit, the previous arriving in the shape of ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ and ‘She Loves You.’ After this perfect hat-trick, there was no doubt that The Beatles were the band to answer Britain’s prayers and bring everyone kicking and screaming into a new dawn.
The track is a moment of genius from Paul McCartney, with John Lennon passing on the praise in 1980 whilst discussing the effort with David Sheff, noting: “That’s Paul’s completely. Maybe I had something to do with the chorus, but I don’t know. I always considered it his song.”
McCartney later delved into more detail about his writing process for the track, revealing: “‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ is my attempt to write a bluesy mode. The idea behind it was that all these material possessions are all very well, but they won’t buy me what I really want. It was a very hooky song. Ella Fitzgerald later did a version of it which I was very honoured by.”
It’s a pop masterclass from The Beatles, which has a message at its heart that was a mantra that the group lived by; money was never their prerogative. Their collective artistry came first and foremost, with financial gains an after-thought.
A takeaway from this scorching performance is how much The Beatles all appear to be loving every last second of ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’. That infantile energy that oozes out of the footage is only towered by the endless screams sent their way from their fans who try their hardest to drown out the track.
The novelty was still fresh to The Beatles this early on their journey, and you can see how much they were soaking in every moment of playing live to 10,000 bellowing fans. Although they would grow sick and tired of performing live in a couple of years, at this moment in time, The Beatles knew there was no other place they would rather be than on stage.
See the clip, below.