Thursday 8 December 2011

Paul McCartney at the O2, London, December 5 2011

Review by Ernie Sutton (with a little
help from his son, Ross)

As with two years ago my trek to the O2 was in cold weather to see Macca. We arrived by car just some 30 minutes from home and parked up before heading to the merchandise shop. Followed by a dinner at Nandos we met with fellow fan club members, before going into our seat.

Whilst high up the view was great.

For me, I have seen Paul live many times since the Wings tour of 1976, and my first gig at Wembley is one I always treasure. For me was the ’76 show rates probably the best of all the live shows I have seen. However, this gig at the O2 is up there with that show, and may be even better after I have had time to take it all in.

Paul’s voice at this show was superb, hitting high notes superbly, with lots of “oohs” in a number of songs beautifully delivered.

The band of Rusty, Brian, Abe and Wix, have grown into a very tight unit, and Abe in particular came into his own in this show.

Having arrived at our seat at 6.50 we were treated to a DJ playing new mixes of Paul, Beatles, John Lennon songs, including some covers of these.

A half hour video followed, the same as what we saw in 2009, concluding with lava lamp like items on video turning into that iconic bass guitar.

Suddenly they were there on stage, in front of us, immaculately dressed in black suits.

The opening track was “Hello Goodbye” and the mood was set.

For anyone who has been to a Paul concert before, they will know track two is always a rocker, but the choice of the track was a complete surprise and when Paul plays a new song live it always has my adrenaline pumping.

Before we knew it “Junior’s Farm” was being belted out by the band, and was the first of a number of surprises on the night. Rusty’s lead guitar was as good as the Wings original in 1974. Even regular keyboard player Paul “Wix” Wickens was there playing guitar!

The vast majority of the show was based around Beatles and Wings hits, but there was the odd song outside of this period, leaving scope for next year to cover the 80s and 90s albums, as part of the show- There is still material to cover Paul.

The amazing thing is Paul has so much material to work with and whilst most artists struggle to fill a show with hit material, Paul struggles to know what to leave out!

Concert regulars “All My Loving”, “Jet”,”Drive My Car” and “Sing the Changes” followed before a UK debut. “This is the first time this has been played in the UK”, Paul announced. What was it going to be? Tension grew and suddenly the first chords of “The Night Before” rang out. The song, whilst recorded in 1965, was never played live by The Beatles.

A guitar change followed Paul was now on lead and “Let Me Roll It”, before a further change to a Yamaha. Paul announced the next song “Paperback Writer” and the Yamaha was the original used on the single way back in 1966. It was the only time Paul used this guitar during the gig. At the end of the track, Rusty turned his guitar over to show the audience a “Thanx” written on the back.

With cheers ringing out, which I have to say were much louder than 2009, despite that being a great gig, Paul went to the piano. “The Long and Winding Road” was followed by the next surprise. Another UK debut live for a song that was a big hit for another Apple band. “Come and Get It” was written by Paul for Badfinger and was released in 1969. It was also part of the soundtrack to the film “The Magic Christian” featuring Ringo Starr and Peter Sellers.

Two 1970s tracks followed- “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five” and “Maybe I’m Amazed”, finished this section, before Paul switched to acoustic guitar.

Three Beatle classics followed, before the now regular tribute to John. “Let’s hear it for John”- Paul said and the 02 erupted into cheers and applause for Paul’s song writing partner. Paul was clearly enjoying the show and appeared very relaxed throughout, taking in the atmosphere, and the love generated from the audience could be felt- far more than any other Paul show I had been to, even including the show at the mecca of football, Anfield, Liverpool in 2008.

“Here Today” was followed by “Dance Tonight”. This song brought drummer Abe into the spotlight and his dance moves shown on the screens (he was behind Paul at the time) showed his confidence and indeed he proved to be the star of this track, generating cheers and applause that I have never heard given to this fine fine drummer before.- He can sure move!

“Mrs Vandebilt” had Rusty, Brian and Paul all jumping around like teenagers during the “Ho Hey Ho” parts, and Paul defied his age with a very energetic performance on this song- apparently the most liked Paul song in the Ukraine- so Paul says.

“Eleanor Rigby” and “Band on The Run” followed before a tribute to George. “Let’s hear it for George”- Paul said, and George received as much adulation from the fans as John had, which was wonderful to hear for one of the so called lesser Beatles, although for me they are all equals.

“Something” was followed by “Ob La Di Ob La Da”, and while the show had been split fairly evenly between Beatle and Wings songs, we were now entering the final part of the show and a flood of Beatle hits followed.

"Back in the USSR”, “I’ve Got a Feeling” “A Day In The Life”- with Rusty being a fine deputy for John, which then moved into “Give Peace a Chance”, saw the already excited audience now at fever pitch.

The floor was vibrating around us as Paul took to the piano again and performed “Let it be”, before the one my son had been so excited about.

“Live and Let Die” along with the fireworks and explosions lit up the venue. Finally the psychedelic piano emerged and Paul switched, to play “Hey Jude”. The entire audience was singing along and I don’t think I have ever heard a rendition of this song with so many of the audience participating.

The band then left the stage at around 10.25- but our tickets said the show closed at 11 and we knew there was an encore at least.

Out came the band, with Paul and Wix carrying huge Union Jack flags. “Here’s another one being played live for the first time in the UK” Paul announced. To our utter surprise the Rubber Soul track “The Word” was being played with Paul covering John’s vocal on the original track as well as his own.

The track then moved into “All You Need is Love” with wonderful video choreography to match, and the song closed with the “She Loves You” part, so we also got a “Yeah Yeah Yeah” too.

Brian then sent out the first notes of “Day Tripper” and the place was rocking.

What more surprises could we have?

The final one was could not have been predicted. “We have a special guest for the next number”- Paul announced- Who was it? It couldn’t be Ringo could it? “It’s a Rolling Stone”-Paul added, and the excitement mounted. “Please welcome Ronnie Wood”. The cheers for Ronnie were deafening and after his well documented problems, it was great to see him looking so well. So when was the last time, if at all, a Beatle and Rolling Stone appeared on the same stage? It could be a future BBFC competition.

Ronnie was great on “Get Back” and again the band left the stage to cheers and even some were crying with joy. “Paul is God” I heard one fan shout.
Paul emerged to sing “Yesterday” and the band then completed their final encore with “Helter Skelter”, “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End” medley.

For me there was a large comparison in the music to that first Wings gig I went to in ’76, but I think the lasting memories for me here were the great music, the love that was clear to see for Paul, and the tightness of a wonderful band.

Would I go and see this again?

You bet I would- why ask that question?

Set list;
Hello Goodbye/Junior’s Farm/All My Loving/Jet/Drive My Car/Sing The Changes/The Night Before/Let Me Roll It/Paperback Writer/The Long and Winding Road/Come And Get It/Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five/Maybe I’m Amazed/I’ve Just Seen a Face/I Will/Blackbird/Here Today/Dance Tonight/Mrs Vandebilt/Eleanor Rigby/Band On The Run/Something/Ob La Di Ob La Da/Back in the USSR/I’ve Got a Feeling/A Day in the Life-Give Peace a Chance/Live and Let Die/Hey Jude.
Encore 1;
The Word-All You Need is Love-She Loves You/Day Tripper/Get Back (with Ronnie Wood)
Encore 2;
Yesterday/Helter Skelter/Golden Slumbers-Carry That Weight-The End.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for that. I am going to Manchester, seen him before and love his show but taking my 10 year old for his 11th birthday which is the day before. He has Asbergers and HATES loud bangs so it is very useful to know when Live and Let Die happens so we can close in and hold him!!! Really looking forward and know my son will love it too!