From the moment Paul McCartney, coolly holding his iconic, beat-up Hofner bass guitar, plucked the first notes of the Out There tour kickoff in Brazil, the audience must have recognised something momentous was happening.
He was playing Eight Days a Week, the 1964 rocker that is one of the Beatles’ most memorable No 1 hits. And yet, until that show, the song, penned by McCartney and John Lennon, had never been played onstage. Lennon thought Eight Days a Week, which the group struggled to write, was “lousy.”
It’s one of a handful of never-performed Beatles treasures that McCartney exhumed for his Out There tour. The nearly 40-song set list starts almost every night with Eight Days a Week, then slips in four more rarely performed numbers from the Beatles catalogue.
The list of songs the Beatles never played in concert is longer than you might think. The band’s last ticketed performance was in August 1966, but the Beatles experienced their most fruitful years as songwriters after that, releasing Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), the double-album The Beatles (1968), Abbey Road (1969) and Let It Be (1970) before McCartney left the Beatles in 1970. It’s difficult to know why McCartney has chosen them, but these are five rarely performed Beatles tunes that have turned up consistently on the Out There set lists:
This Lennon-McCartney tune, which kicks off with a rollicking drum roll, was released abroad on Beatles for Sale but became a smash when it was released as a single stateside. There are a few dueling tales about where the title came from, but a popular one suggests that a driver told McCartney he had been working eight days a week.
A psychedelic little come-on (or, more likely, a sarcastic kiss-off) to a meter maid, the 1967 song off Sgt Pepper’s was sung by McCartney and featured a curious interlude with instruments made of paper and combs. McCartney has been including the tune in the middle of his set.
Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite!
Lennon wrote this whirling carousel of a tune after being inspired, he would say, by an elaborate carnival poster he picked up in an antique shop. The song appeared on Sgt Pepper’s and featured an unusually-heavy assist from legendary Beatles producer George Martin, who added the track’s carnival-esque sounds. On the album, it’s Lennon who sings Mr Kite.
This 1967 number, written and performed by McCartney, was released on Magical Mystery Tour and is an homage of sorts to the Busby Berkeley musical, although also a perfect example of the dreamy, hazy sound the Beatles had adopted.
The chants of one-two-threes and A-B-Cs make this nursery rhyme-like 1969 number off Yellow Submarine insanely catchy. McCartney has confirmed that the ditty in fact was written for children, mostly by him, with some contribution from Lennon. It’s also one of a handful from the Beatles catalogue that has been licensed for commercials, making it recognisable to fans everywhere.