Revisiting the Beatles’ ‘Rattle Your Jewelry’ Concert
The Beatles strode onstage to politely thunderous applause on Nov. 4, 1963 at London's Prince of Wales Theatre for the Royal Variety Performance, with the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret gazing fondly from the royal box. But these four charming Liverpool lads were clearly royalty themselves – at least in pop music terms.
Their massively successful debut album, Please Please Me, had been released in March of that year, cementing their superstardom and the "Beatlemania" phenomenon in their home country that would soon spread like wildfire across the planet. And as those rabid teenage girls screamed, and as radio stations and record labels scrambled to keep up with the changes, the Beatles continued to churn out innovative, note-perfect singles.
Between Please Please Me and their famed concert at the London's 1963 Royal Variety Performance, the band released two of the most well-loved early gems – the harmonica-laden ditty "From Me to You" and the swooning anthem "She Loves You." All the while, they were recording their second studio album, the equally excellent With the Beatles, which would be released on Nov. 22 of that year.
The quartet's three-song set at the Royal Variety Show is shocking in retrospect. Freed from the droning teenage shrieks and general hysteria that accompanied most Beatles concerts, this set was – and is – a glimpse into the band's respective live abilities, given that they could actually hear themselves sing and play. Opening with "From Me to You," the band's boyish charm is on full-display. There are plenty of Paul McCartney head-bobs, awkward Ringo Starr smirks and John Lennon toe-taps.
"The next song that we'd like to sing now is, one that's ... a bit slower," McCartney fumbles, catching his breath, before diving into a gorgeous take on "Till There Was You" (from the 1957 musical The Music Man). A longtime staple of the band's early live sets in Hamburg, Germany, the song is built on McCartney's booming, effortless vocal and George Harrison's silky guitar figures.
But the evening's most infamous moment wasn't of the musical variety. Before closing with a rousing version of "Twist and Shout," Lennon delivers one of the most infamous – and hilarious – bits of stage banter in music history: 'For our last number, I'd like to ask your help. Will the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And for the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewelry...' Cemented with his toothy smile and sheepish thumbs-up, it's a time-capsule moment in pop-culture history, delivered by pop music's most mischievous genius.
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