It was supposed to be a stellar three-day tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ 1964 appearance at the Hollywood Bowl over the weekend. But after a flood of negative comments on social media and critical newspaper stories, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which sponsored the show, released a statement Wednesday acknowledging the public’s disappointment over it.
The weekend’s lineup, headed by Dave Stewart, was to include Billy Ray Cyrus, the biggest name on the bill, plus Michelle Branch, Martina McBride, Allen Stone and Liv Warfield, as well as members of Stewart’s family. Bob Eubanks, who as a DJ was responsible for bringing the Beatles to the Bowl, told some stories about the concert and read a letter from Paul McCartney.
Critical comments about the lack of star power and the show itself began appearing on Facebook Saturday morning, the night after the first show. Among those who planned to attend but didn’t was Jim Berkenstadt, author of “The Beatle Who Vanished,” who posted on the the Bowl’s page he bought five tickets and flew across the country for the show. “When we saw the line up of D-list artists we were really disappointed. Then when we read the the reviews from Friday night we were appalled,” he wrote. “We didn’t go. We did not want to be present for the ‘worst concert of all time’.”
“Y’all should be ashamed of yourselves for presenting the worst show imaginable! Was that really the best y’all could do? Dave Stewart, his kids, Billy Ray, Martina (who has an amazing voice but not this venue), and all the other unnamed singers! We’ve been going there for years and will be back, but y’all should publicly apologize for what y’all did Saturday night!,” wrote a Facebook commenter who attended.
“A sold out crowd was expecting a tribute to the Beatles and this ‘Stewart Family’ act was an embarrassment to the tradition of the Hollywood Bowl. I yelled it last night and I’ll yell it again… BOO!!!,” a Facebook commenter quoted by the Los Angeles Times wrote.
Twitter commenters were even less kind. “I’d like to thank #DaveStewart for reminding everyone at the #hollywoodbowl how wonderful #AnnieLennox is!,” wrote one. “Yoko Ono is no longer Public Enemy #1 to #Beatles fans. #DaveStewart is. #HollywoodBowl,” said another.
A story about the show’s failure in the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday and a lackluster review in the Orange County Register last Sunday added to the fire. The Register’s Steve Mirkin asked why Stewart “armed with an invitation to sing Beatles songs at the Hollywood Bowl, the biggest name he could come up with was Billy Ray Cyrus?”
The Times printed a statement issued by the Los Angeles Philharmonic about the show Wednesday. “We appreciate that the Hollywood Bowl has enthusiastic, engaged and loyal patrons. We take their comments to heart and are of course disappointed when any of our patrons are unsatisfied.”