On February 11, 1964, two days after their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, the Beatles played their first U.S. concert at the Washington Coliseum. I was there along with around 200,000 others.
Just kidding. I wasn’t there and the attendance was around 8,000, a sell-out at the Coliseum (previously known as Uline Area).
The Beatles performed for about 35 minutes. Their stage was a boxing ring and they had to shift position every few minutes so everyone had a chance to see their faces. Paul McCartney says that thereafter, they refused to perform “in-the-round.”
The Washington Post has compiled the recollections of some who were there including Paul McCartney, Tommy (“Sweet Little Sheila, You’ll Know Her If You See Her”) Roe, and Al Gore. A friend of Gore’s who attended with him says they threw jellybeans at the band. Gore says he doesn’t recall.
The Beatles come across as thoroughly likeable, which I’m pretty sure they were at that point in their career.
Here is a compilation of concert moments. It provides a sense of the “polite pandemonium” that those who were present say prevailed. Musically, I think “Please Please Me” (around the 4 minute mark) probably comes best through the screaming.
UPDATE: Legendary studio bass player Norbert Putnam helped Tommy Roe open the show that night. He didn’t realize it, but John Lennon was a fan of his. They didn’t meet because Putnam turned down an invitation to attend an event at the British Embassy after the show.
Putnam recalls the night here.