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PAUL McCARTNEY
Liverpool Echo Arena, 20 December 2011

Paul McCartney, photo by Steve Goudie

Sir Paul McCartney turned back the clock at the Liverpool Echo Arena, playing songs from across his glittering career with The Beatles and beyond.

Dressed in a black suit and pink shirt he kicked off with 'Hello Goodbye', 'Juniorís Farm' and 'All My Loving' on his trademark Hofner violin bass.

"Well hello Liverpool. This is the last night of our tour and what a place to end it," he grinned.

To mark his homecoming, he delighted the capacity crowd with a three hour set of familiar hits and fan favourites.

Belting out upbeat hits 'Jet' and 'Drive My Ca'r, he got the crowd singing and dancing, before newer track 'Sing In The Changes' and a Liverpool premiere of 'Help's The Night Before'.

Picking up a lead guitar, he launched into 'Let Me Roll It'.  For 'Paperback Writer' he swapped it for the guitar he played on Sgt Pepper, a right-hander strung upside-down.

Praise must go to his excellent four piece band for superb harmonies and musicianship.

Paul McCartney, photo by Steve Goudie

Sitting down at the piano, he led a sing-along version of 'The Long And Winding Road', 'Come and Get It' (another first for Liverpool) and 'Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five'.

His voice has matured over the years, but he can still certainly hit the high notes, and his lyrical tones echoed beautifully across the arena.

For a man of his years, he put most younger bands to shame, taking no interval and barely pausing for breath between songs.

The former Beatle has played to millions around the world, yet he seemed genuinely touched by the adulation from his home crowd.

Fans had camped out overnight to get tickets, and they gave their homecoming hero a rapturous response, clapping and cheering as soon as they recognised each song.

 


He's probably the most famous musician in the world, and he's written enough songs to last 10 lifetimes, so he could justifiably shy away from the big hits in favour of the more obscure tracks. But he knows what the fans love, and he gives them what they want gig after gig.
 


Hit followed hit, with the sublime 'Maybe I'm Amazed', 'Blackbird' (with a false start when he got the words wrong) and 'Eleanor Rigby'.

His mentions of John Lennon and George Harrison met with huge cheers, while Cilla Black and the Royal family were booed (prompting cheeky grins from Sir Paul).

"We don't normally play this one," he said. "But we've stuck it in tonight, I think you'll see why" before launching into 'Penny Lane'.

He's probably the most famous musician in the world, and he's written enough songs to last 10 lifetimes, so he could justifiably shy away from the big hits in favour of the more obscure tracks. But he knows what the fans love, and he gives them what they want gig after gig.

Paul McCartney, photo by Steve Goudie

Thus, he chucked in 'Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da' and watched enthralled as the crowd sang along.

The cool tracks were still there in abundance -' Band On The Run', 'I've Got a Feeling', 'Back In The USSR' and 'A Day in the Life' sounded like they could have been released yesterday.

There were plenty of poignant moments too - particularly his tributes to fallen band mates John ('Here Today' and 'Give Peace A Chance') and George ('Something', complete with backing vocals from 11,000 people). It's easy to forget that while the world mourned the loss of their musicianship, he lost his childhood friends.

He climbed back behind the piano for the beautiful 'Let It B'e, the thrilling 'Live And Let Die' (with spectacular pyrotechnics) and the iconic 'Hey Jude', each gratefully filmed by thousands of camera phones, fans eager to capture each moment for posterity.

Of course there were times when you could see Paul McCartney play for next to nothing down Mathew Street most lunchtimes.

But 50 years on, it's an experience of a lifetime. Sir Paul seems to be aware of that, and packs each set with songs that his fans want to hear.

As the clock reached 11pm, ever the performer, he came back on for encores 'The Word', 'All You Need Is Love', a snow covered 'Wonderful Christmas Time', complete with a choir of children, 'Day Tripper' and 'Get Back'.

Add in a second encore of 'Yesterday', 'Mull of Kintyre' (complete with a full pipe band) and it was the perfect end to a faultless set. As the final notes rang out it was clear that his city loves him as much now as it ever did, and he undoubtedly feels the same.


Review and photos by Steve Goudie

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