More than 40,000 fans applied for tickets to see the Beatles play Liverpool’s Empire Theatre on Sunday December 5th 1965.

The venue could only seat 2,250. So the concert, part of the band’s UK tour, was massively oversubscribed.

The lucky ones, who paid 15 shillings to sit in the orchestra stalls, witnessed an unforgettable performance.

The Beatles’ belted out 11 songs including I Feel Fine, Nowhere Man and Yesterday – and Paul McCartney even played the drums for Merseyside support band the Koobas!

George Harrison at the Beatles’ final Liverpool concert, December 1965

George Harrison at the Beatles’ final Liverpool concert, December 1965

What the audience didn’t know was that the gig would be the Beatles’ last ever performance in Liverpool.

The Beatles gave two concerts at the Empire that Sunday, as bands often did on tour dates in the 1960s. Two days later they put on two performances at the ABC Cinema in Ardwick, Manchester.

The Beatles’ 1965 UK tour started at the Odeon Cinema in Glasgow on December 2nd and wound its way through nine venues before finishing at the Capitol Cinema, Cardiff, on December 12th.

In addition to the Koobas, the Beatles shared the bill with the Moody Blues, the Paramounts, Beryl Marsden, the Marionettes and Steve Aldo.

John Lennon blows his nose on Paul McCartney’s tie during the Beatles’ final UK tour, December 1965

John Lennon blows his nose on Paul McCartney’s tie during the Beatles’ final UK tour, December 1965

Theatres and cinemas were selected for the concerts, rather than the massive stadia of the band’s recent American tour. The aim was to create a more intimate and intense atmosphere.

The Beatles rehearsed hard for the tour which came straight after recording the Rubber Soul album and the double A-side We Can Work It Out and Day Tripper.

As a result their playing was tight – and the New Musical Express reckoned John Lennon’s vocals were in top form. The critics loved his humour too, which had the crowd ‘roaring with delight.’

The Beatles were well rewarded for their work, earning £1,000 a gig. It was the highest fee paid to a performing act up to that time.

The Beatles wear smog masks at the ABC Cinema, Ardwick, December 1965

The Beatles wear smog masks at the ABC Cinema, Ardwick, December 1965

Lennon and McCartney on stage at the ABC, Ardwick, December 1965

Lennon and McCartney on stage at the ABC, Ardwick, December 1965

The tour, however, was not all plain sailing. Bad weather delayed arrivals at venues and George Harrison’s Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar was destroyed when it fell from the band’s car into the path of a lorry.

The Moody Blues had to play longer to cover for the Beatles’ late arrival in Birmingham due to heavy rain – and thick fog meant they turned up at the ABC in Manchester with five minutes to spare.

The Beatles donned smog masks in Manchester for a photo-shoot between shows, although Harrison rather ruined the effect by smoking a cigarette through the mouthpiece of his!

Back at the Empire, the audience for the second show was packed with family and friends. Our photo shows Harrison’s wife Patti Boyd, one of the leading international models of the 1960s, along with his parents.

George Harrison’s wife Patti Boyd and his family at the Liverpool Empire, December 1965

George Harrison’s wife Patti Boyd and his family at the Liverpool Empire, December 1965

Fans queue outside the Liverpool Empire Theatre, December 1965

Fans queue outside the Liverpool Empire Theatre, December 1965

Although McCartney enjoyed playing drums for the Koobas’ version of Dizzy Miss Lizzy, he was less happy with the heavy police presence.

Roads around many of the venues had been cut off ensuring that only fans attending the concerts could get through. McCartney reckoned police numbers were ruining ‘the whole atmosphere of enjoyment.’

After the tour ended, the weary Beatles cancelled their customary Christmas concert season. It had been a hectic 13 months, starting with the recording of the 55-minute Granada TV spectacular The Music of Lennon and McCartney in November 1964.

Various artists, including Lulu, Cilla Black and even Peter Sellers sang the duo’s songs in the TV special. Sellers delivered Hard Day’s Night in the style of Shakespeare’s Richard III!

The Beatles watch a TV recording of their stage concert, December 1965

The Beatles watch a TV recording of their stage concert, December 1965

Lulu joins John Lennon and Paul McCartney at their Granada TV spectacular, November 1965

Lulu joins John Lennon and Paul McCartney at their Granada TV spectacular, November 1965

The group’s final tour, a return to the USA, ended at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, on August 29th.

From September 1966 onward, the Beatles would be a studio band.