Paul McCartney (left) with Abe Laboriel Jr (centre) and Brian Ray (right)
Paul McCartney is currently touring Australia to rave reviews.
I decided a week ago to go to his second concert. I bought the last two ticket in the A3 section, in the centre 14 rows back; the cost a mere $900 per ticket.
The show started promptly at 7:30pm. It began with a 30 minute prelude playing various of his songs and various screen shots. I thought it was too long and narcissistic. I was not alone in this opinion because after 15 minutes everyone around me was screen surfing on their mobiles.
Finally, at 8pm, Paul came on and he looked exhausted. This is not surprising as he had done a concert the previous night when the weather was more inclement. And he is 81.
I was beginning to think I had paid too much for the tickets
I could not have been more wrong. In the next two and half hours he and his team turned on one the greatest shows you could hope to attend. It was worth every penny and then some. Besides the music some of his asides were brilliant.
My favourite quip was after they did a tribute to George Harrison by performing his composition “Something”. At the end of song and when the audience stopped cheering Paul softly said, still with his Liverpudlian accent, “You know Frank Sinatra described Something as the greatest song in the Lennon-McCartney catalogue. So close.”
After the sun had set, he then told the audience than when the band played a Beatles classic how the mobile lights all came on and it was like looking into a galaxy of stars. And when they played a new song, it was like looking into a black hole. They then played the first big Beatle hit “Love Me Do” released in September 1962 and the crowd went wild. What was amazing about the recording was that it was the first time Paul had led the chorus as it was usually done by John. (John is playing the harmonica).
I am two years younger than Paul and in September 1992 I was starting my final year of school. I was the Head Prefect and we had a radio in the prefects’ hut playing the latest music. I remember saying to a colleague the first time it was played that it wasn’t a bad song and the band sounded pretty good. His reply was dismissive of the band and the song saying neither would amount to anything. “Never make forecasts, especially about the future,”
Beatlemania was about start and let me tell you as someone in the thick of it the 1960s was a fantastic decade and it was the Beatles who started it. Why? I think Paul sums it up perfectly when asked the same question, “I don’t know, I think when The Beatles came out, it had been a pretty lean period up till then for young people. And so suddenly, we came on the scene and struck a chord with a lot of young people; they thought that we thought similar to them, and I don’t know, was there a cocky attitude or something? And hey – the music wasn’t bad. So all of that combined. They got really excited, which is great for us; it’s what you want.”
My own memory of 1963 was that the Beatles had been signed up to perform weekend summer shows at Weston-Super-Mare. Bath was on the train route from London to Weston and on Thursday they would catch the train from London to Weston. At the beginning of summer there were 10 girls on the platform screaming as the train went through. By the end of summer there were 10,000 surrounding the station and screaming their heads off.
One of the show’s highlights was when Paul used the footage dusted off and remastered by director Peter Jackson in recent years, for the 2021 docuseries The Beatles: Get Back. Peter and his entourage were in the audience. Indeed they arrived 10 minutes before Paul’s entrance and sat several rows in front of us.
His band, with whom the frontman has played for 20 years, is composed of four sidemen in guitarist Rusty Anderson, drummer Abe Laboriel Jr, keyboardist Wix Wickens and guitarist/bassist Brian Ray. They were all brilliant. With more than 500 shows under their collective belt, the quintet is joined by a three-piece horn section on this tour. The combined effect is a faultlessly polished performance.
The band plays 39 numbers and the stage effects were stunning. Noone who saw the performance of Live and Let Die will ever forget it. The tributes to George Harrison and John Lennon were heartfelt. My only question since thinking about the show is where was Ringo in all this.
As Andrew McMillen says in his review “More than at any other artist’s show, the top note heard is one of fellowship, love and fun. Even when you find yourself in times of trouble, spend a few hours in earshot of this man and his band, and everything feels all right.”
Six years ago, Paul promised he would come back and he did. No promises this tour and I, soon to celebrate my 79th birthday, understand why.
First published on LinkedIn 30 October 2023
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