St Austell • Friday, June 7, 1991

ConcertBy Paul McCartney • Part of the Unplugged 1991 Summer Tour

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United Kingdom
St Austell
Cornwall Coliseum


The biggest show of this tour, with 3326 fans !

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, rock tours would cover most of Britain. These days, with a dearth of major arena venues in the UK, big tours tend only to visit the bigger cities – the World Tour, for example, played London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Liverpool. It certainly went nowhere near Cornwall, the most south-westerly county in England, and as soon as the MPL team realised that Paul had never played there, not with Wings, not even with the much-travelled Beatles, it was decided: Cornwall it had to be, and the decent-sized (3326 standing) Cornwall Coliseum venue in the resort town of St Austell was quietly booked for 7 June. Tickets went on sale the Sunday before, and with fans queuing at the box-office all night it was soon declared a sell-out.

In the best possible sense, the Cornwall Coliseum reminds one of a college or youth venue of the early 1970s. Alongside the ‘pints only’ bar there’s a little kiosk in which, actually during the gig, a smiling lady sits happily selling bottles of R White’s lemonade, packets of crisps, Opal Fruits, Smarties and Bassett’s Jelly Babies. The whole venue oozes charm, and the 7 June audience oozed expectation, enthusiasm and excitement; sensing this, the band put in a scintillating high aptitude performance at the venue by the red cliffs.

Not unexpectedly, every McCartney reference to the locale was heroically received: ‘San Francisco Bay Blues’ appended with the line “way down in Cornwall” was one, then later when he addressed the crowd as “my little Cornish pasties” there were cheers all round. The band also treated what can only be described as a bemused audience to an ultra-quick acoustic instrumental scoot through ‘The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise’. Few would have recognised the lilting 1953 Les Paul and Mary Ford pleaser from the 30-second end-of-pier-style demolition job successfully undertaken, amid much laughter, by The McCartney Six.

A more recognisable form of treat was delivered in the shape of an altogether new composition, ‘Down By The River’. Apparently written by Paul over a recent morning’s muesli, it’s a catchy skiffle-style romp about “going down to where the waters flow”, marked by a true McCartney concert first – mouth-organ playing. Not for him, though, the Dylan-style neck appendage to keep the instrument in place, instead it was the duty of special assistant John Hammel to join Paul centre-stage and physically hold the harmonica adjacent to the microphone. […]

From Club Sandwich 59, Autumn 1991

From Cornwall Live, February 10, 2019:

[…] in June 1991, Beatles fans in Cornwall were left reeling when Paul McCartney announced four impromptu concerts across the world. With his band, Macca would play London, Naples, Barcelona and … St Austell.

It might sound unbelievable now to young music fans that a legend like McCartney would choose to play in Cornwall. However, the Cornwall Coliseum at Carlyon Bay was one of the most respected music venues in the world before it was bulldozed. […]

McCartney’s performance was in the days before online and phone booking, so fans of the superstar had to queue to get tickets for the 3,000-capacity gig.

Excitement was palpable especially as the show was only announced a couple of days before it was due to take place on June 7.

Hundreds of fans camped, slept and queued on the beach to get hold of the tickets for McCartney’s first – and, to this day, only – performance in Cornwall and Devon.

Keith from Callington was the first in line having spent 24 hours outside the locked doors of the box office.

As Coliseum manager Paul Higgins counted down from 10 to 1 before unleashing McCartney mania on his staff, Keith revealed he was buying the tickets for his wife’s birthday.

Mr Higgins said at the time: “This is the biggest thing we have ever had at the Cornwall Coliseum. Who would have thought we’d have Paul McCartney here?”

He said the rare appearance was down to “a few phone calls and a bit of luck”.

Tickets, which were limited to four per person, sold out in just over five hours and were soon changing hands for up to £700 as fans from all over the world descended on St Austell.

Hundreds of fans stood outside the venue in sunshine as Macca ran through a soundcheck soon after arriving at the Coliseum with his then wife Linda and their children. […]

The only other artist that saw similar queues around the block at the Coliseum was Cliff Richard, which just goes to show how musical tastes have changed in 30 years.

Last updated on June 19, 2019

Setlist for the soundcheck

Setlist for the concert


Acoustic set





Electric set



Get Back

Written by Lennon - McCartney


Let It Be

Written by Lennon - McCartney



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