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Paul McCartneyPaul McCartney


in Concert

- RDS - Dublin

27 May 2003





Paul McCartney at the Kings Dock - Liverpool

June 1st 2003


Part 1


Forget the dyed hair and the seemingly finished saga about Mac-Len song credits. When father to be Paul McCartney and his band returned to perform beside the shores of the River Mersey, he gave the locals a show which only confirmed that Sir ‘Macca’ is still the king of Liverpool’s dockland, as well as head of Rock’s Royal Family.


In a set which included an amazing 29 Beatles classics and a half dozen Wings hits, (43 songs in all), - the biggest grossing act of 2002-03 fronted a musically tight band of younger musicians Rusty, Brian, Abe, and Wix, whose playing and harmonies mesmerised an already expectant and appreciative audience of 35,000 +.


As an excited onlooker in the VIP section of the crowd, I could not believe my eyes and my luck. The ex-Beatle’s younger brother Mike (McGear) McCartney, stood just two rows down to my right, singing along with the rest of us to the tune of Lady Madonna, and many others of The Beatles back catalogue.


What a sight for sore eyes, as British star TV comic Frank Skinner conducted the swelling crowd to a rendition of ‘Macca’s coming home’, a beatlised version of his huge chart hit ‘Three Lions’ with Liverpool band The Lightening Seeds.


And when Paul sang his Tug Of War Lennon tribute ‘Here Today’, you could almost cut the emotion tugging at the heart strings of the massive crowd. On a brighter note, Macca’s ukele version of George Harrison’s ‘Something’, - and his light hearted one verse rendition of ‘Yellow Submarine’, acknowledged Paul’s debt to the quiet Beatle, whilst giving a nod in the direction of Ringo, who is after all, still Ringo.


Whilst Paul dabbled with an acoustic set including the incomparable ‘Blackbird’, and treated Liverpudlians to an almost confessional bout of long and winding John and George reminiscences, - it was the bands’ rock set of Fabs and Wings classics, which ripped the roof of the sky off, and set the pulses racing amongst the mixed audience of celebrities, Liverpudlians, and a host of international beatlemaniacs. This was Beatlemania new millennium style, all thrusting arms, waving placards and peace signs, with hardly a pre-pubescent scream in site.


Yet the mere mention of Macca’s moptop black polo-neck sweater, was still too much for some of the latent screamers in the crowd, many of whom must have been mere cavernettes the first time round.


Despite a short lived burst of rain, nothing could dampen their enthusiasm, and when Paul dived into ‘Back In The USSR’, its tumultuous effect electrified all present, and shocked us into realising that real rock history was being made on this night of nights. ‘Jet’, ‘Live And Let Die’, and ‘Band On The Run’ only further enhanced this effect, as the music took wing and floated out across The River Mersey.


And after the light faded, and the stage-lighting and video screens came into their own, The Beatles themselves cavorted across the silver screen, in a psychedelic light show, which inflamed the senses and sent us all on a nostalgia trip from which no-one present wished to return. The superb pyrotechnics lit up both stage and sky, as did Paul and his band, in what was truly a fitting start to what has turned out to be a week of cultural celebration on the banks of The Mersey.


But it was the pre-show build up of ‘Back In The World’ tableaus, including floating globes, masqued dancers, bewigged, powdered pompadours, be-appled umbrella’d figures and handle bar moustachioed strongmen, which gave the evening an almost surrealistic edge. Backed by a McCartney soundtrack of experimental Wings music which was redolent of Paul’s Revolveresque dabbling in the avante garde, the crowd was left in no doubt that this show was to be a spectacle of massive proportions. A post millennial extravaganza of fin de siecle decadence amid the faintest whiff of bread and circuses. It was as if the Capital Of Culture year had started already, and a superb feast for the eyes it was too.


Suddenly, Macca’s band appeared and opened with ‘Hello Goodbye’, stormed into ‘Jet’, did a stirring version of ‘All My Lovin’’, reminded us that it’s ‘Getting Better’ all the time, and let Paul roll out the welcome mat to an audience that didn’t need a second invitation to party. By the time the ex-Beatle tried his hand at an extended and rousing version of the Let it Be throwaway ‘Maggie Mae’, it was obvious to all that this band could rock.


Other real highlights included ‘She’s Leaving Home’, the excellent ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’, ‘Let ‘em In’, the always anthemic ‘Hey Jude’ and the absolutely enthralling medley of the ‘Sergeant Pepper’ reprise and Abbey Road’s ‘The End’ which topped and tailed the show in true Macca style.


Of course, it must be said that this was not The Beatles. Neither was it was some anaemic bootleg version of the mop tops, but an updated showcase of Macca and Beatles classics and a few rockers, delivered by a group of musicians who really knew what they were doing, and what they were there for.


The between song chat was a little leaden at times, even from the great man himself, but this just goes to show that when the four Fabs were together in front of the press, no-one but no-one could beat their quick witted quirkiness as they bounced off one another.


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