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From The Argus, March 11, 2010:
Paul McCartney and his girlfriend Nancy dropped into a dingy basement venue in Brighton to watch his son James play to a crowd of 70 punters this week.
For a performer used to playing 50,000-seater stadiums, Brighton’s Audio must have taken Paul McCartney back some 50 years to the earliest beginnings of his career.
But if he found the venue for one of his 32-year-old son’s first public gigs humble, he wasn’t giving it away, as he was every inch the proud father, dancing, cheering and capturing every moment on a small hand-held video camera as James played a storming rock concert.
Sir Paul and Nancy Shevell, who’d arrived straight from a Paris fashion show looking like a rock chick, knew every word of every song as James alternated blistering rock tunes, like New York Times, with delicate acoustic numbers and some stunning piano performances, including the haunting Spirit Guide.
Paul and Nancy sang along – even as James shrieked his way through the expletive-ridden Glisten – dancing about in the corner by the cigarette machine, whistling and whooping, even heckling after some songs.
While James, backed by a three-piece band, gave an impressive vocal performance, at times sweet and beautiful, at others reaching high notes that might defy his tenor father; between songs he merely muttered their titles and barely smiled throughout the tight 50 minute set.
Paul, however, gave him a lesson in showmanship just making the trip across the empty dance floor to the bar.
Passing by the stage, balancing three pint-glasses of soda water in his hands, Macca Senior called to his son, “Hello James, how are you?” James, preparing for his next song, ignored him in a‘yeah, dad,’ embarrassed-teenager kind of way.
But while playing, James often looked across to his father, at times fixing his eyes on him.
He dedicated two songs to Paul. The second, “I Love You Dad,” which James played on a mandolin, was the only one Paul didn’t sing along to – though Nancy did, enthusiastically.
After he’d sung the final, “I love you Dad, more than you can know.” Paul called out, “I love you too.”
James finished with Angel – not a Robbie Williams cover but a catchy melodic song which seems to refer to his mum, Linda, who died in 1999 when he was only 20.
It’s become a favourite with his ever-growing Facebook fanclub – and will probably be his first hit once he has taken his pick of the major record labels, including Warner, EMI and Universal, who are keen to sign him up and release the album that has been 10 years in the making.
As soon as the last chord faded, James scurried off, leaving the crowd cheering and demanding an encore.
“Just one more!” someone said. “Two more!” shouted Paul McCartney, but James did not reappear.
After the concert James and Paul mingled with the audience, posing for photos.
James, who seemed fazed by the surge of the crowd wanting autographs, commented that it was the first time his father had seen him play in public. “It’s been great – very special.”
Asked why there was no encore, he said, “We didn’t have any more to play; we need more tunes.”
James has another seven gigs to play on his 14 day UK tour, which is his first worldwide.
Asked why he’s kept it so low-key, with barely any promotion, he said, “We just need to perfect it first.”
Coming from someone who had just proved himself an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and impressive vocalist, one wonders what standards he is setting himself.
Paul and Nancy, unaccompanied by any security, exited by the front door and, before jumping into his car, Paul happily waved to surprised passers-by on Brighton seafront, before heading back to Peasmarsh.
James McCartney started his tour in November 14, 2009 ; and issued the following statement to explain his motivation and approach:
I have been playing music since I was nine and writing along the way. I met my band about a year ago. Producer David Kahne introduced us—and my dad, Paul, helped. I am currently recording an album. The band consists of me, 32, on guitar, piano, and vocals; Brian Johnson, 28, on drums; Steven Bayley, 32, on guitar, synthesizers, toy piano, and harmonies; and Charles Turner, 27, on bass and harmonies. The music was inspired by The Beatles, Nirvana, The Cure, PJ Harvey, Radiohead—and all good music. It is basically rock ‘n ‘roll, clean sounding, and vocal. My dad taught me guitar when I was nine. I play a Fender Stratocaster, which Carl Perkins gave me from the seventies, and a Gibson Les Paul that my dad gave me—heart red. I am from London and Sussex, Brian and Charlie are from Allerton, Liverpool, where my dad grew up, and Steve is from Birmingham. Brian and Charlie used to be in the “Dead 60s” and Steve used to be in “The Open.” We are currently on tour. We are mixing our album in Hog Hill Studio, Sussex. The words on the album refer to spirituality, love, family, trying to sort out one’s own life, and many other things. I have written the songs over a ten-year period.James McCartney
Last updated on November 21, 2020