Lennon plays a Hohner Pianetelectric piano throughout the song accompanied by McCartney's ascending and descending bass lines. The song's verse has a call and response structure, McCartney's lead vocal alternating with Lennon and George Harrison's harmony, singing the chorus "Aaah, the night before . . .", the whole being alternated with a second melody. McCartney plays a guitar solo on the third verse that is recapitulated in part as the coda of the song. However, Lennon said in a 1965 interview that it was Harrison and McCartney playing the guitar solo together, albeit in different octaves.
The song is performed on Salisbury Plain in the second Beatles film, Help! and, just as it finishes, a bomb explodes. In the movie, the Beatles perform the song in the shadow of Stonehenge. Harrison mimes the terse, stabbing guitar solo — even though both he and McCartney played it on the record, according to Lennon.
McCartney played the song on 15 July 2011 at Yankee Stadium, stating from the stage that it was the first time he had performed the song in concert. The only time the Beatles performed it outside of EMI Studios was for their final BBC radio session (The Beatles Invite you to Take a Ticket To Ride) on 26 May 1965, broadcast on the BBC Light Programme on 7 June 1965.