In 1960 a band was born in Hamburg. Five young amateur musicians from Liverpool gave their first performance as The Beatles at the Indra Club in the city’s St Pauli district.
Later, when he’d achieved the status of global icon, John Lennon would say, “I grew up in Hamburg, not Liverpool.”
As neatly summed up by Mark Lewisohn, the world’s leading authority on The Beatles, “No Hamburg, no Beatles!”
Until now, in spite of Hamburg’s unique rock’n’roll connections and the Reeperbahn’s fame as birthplace of The Beatles, the only initiative keeping this legacy alive in the city has been the Beatles-Platz. But all that’s about to change! The newly founded Come together Experience, a start-up whose mission stems from a passion for The Beatles’ music, is launching a festival to fill this gap for millions of fans worldwide. The Fab Four’s music, message and spirit are timeless, and have lost none of their power and impact. It’s all about creativity, songwriting, innovation, humour, style, spirituality and togetherness. As Brexit looms and the world holds its breath, the new festival is calling on everyone to come together and is working in close cooperation with Liverpool’s hugely successful International Beatleweek, which has been running for almost thirty years. For Come Together, the Hamburg–Liverpool axis familiar to Beatles fans everywhere offers potential for the exchange of ideas, music and inspiration.
Come Together is launching what’s set to be a multi-faceted annual festival in 2020, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the band’s first gig in Hamburg. The inaugural event will take place on Friday 27 March 2020 at Große Freiheit 36, and will be followed by concerts that night and the next at the Indra, Kaiserkeller and Gruenspan clubs, the first two of these being venues where The Beatles themselves performed in the early 60s.
The festival Theme Park will recreate the stages the band performed on, as well as other original Beatles sites such as two rooms on the Star-Club floor at the Hotel Pacific or their cramped lodgings above the Top Ten Club.
An interactive Beatles Tour taking in the original Beatles locations of St Pauli’s infamous red-light district is in preparation, with the collaboration of Professor Jens Bley, Co-Founder of eCultureLab@HCU (HafenCity University Hamburg).
As well as the concerts and Theme Park there will also be exhibitions of work by Hamburg-based Beatles photographers and talks and panel discussions involving people who were there at the time, together with Beatles experts such as Mark Lewisohn and US historian Dr Julia Sneeringer, who did extensive research in Hamburg for her book A Social History of Early Rock'n'Roll in Hamburg. Hamburg from Burlesque to The Beatles 1956–69.
Central to Come together is a focus on the next generation of musicians in Hamburg. The festival is working closely with Popkurs run by Hamburg’s Musikhochschule, with the Hamburg School of Music and the arts organization Lukulule. Come together will bring together national and international artists, young musicians and stars, working across generations and genres. The festival will forge a lasting connection between Hamburg and its artists and the history of The Beatles, laying the foundations for new creative initiatives in the future.
Uriz von Oertzen, Managing Director of the Come Together Experience, worked on the construction of the Beatles-Platz, which opened in 2008 and has since become one of the most photographed places in Hamburg. Music and Beatles fan Von Oertzen is initiating the festival with project developer Thomas Kolbatz and musician and Beatles expert Stefanie Hempel, who will act as its host and music director. Hempel has been leading fans of every nationality around St. Pauli for fifteen years on her musical Beatles Tour, hailed by MTV UK as "the greatest Beatles tour of all time". On 14 November 2019 Hempel, her band and an array of guest artists will present an Abbey Road 50th-anniversary tribute concert. She will also host the opening Come Together concert and will perform with her band on both nights of the festival.