Independence Concert • Saturday, June 14, 2008

ConcertBy Paul McCartney
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Independence Square

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Mrs. Vandebilt

First live rendition


From the press release:

On Saturday 14th June 2008, at the invitation of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, Paul McCartney will perform to hundreds of thousands of people in Independence Square, Kiev, Ukraine.  This groundbreaking event has been named Independence Concert and was launched today in Kiev by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation.

Paul’s special show will be free to attend and will be broadcasted live on Novy TV. This exciting event will be seen as symbolic for several generations of Ukrainians.  It will allow people of different ethnicities and religions, political preferences and geopolitical orientations to come together around the ideas of peace, love and unity; the very ideas that Paul McCartney with The Beatles helped bring into the World. Independence Concert is an independent social initiative that aims to strengthen the confidence and understanding in the Ukrainian society.

The ideology and spirit of The Beatles helped build the democratic aspirations for much of the soviet society and eventually led to the peaceful collapse of the USSR and independence of the former Soviet republics. Independence Concert appeals to the ideals that helped 30 years ago to melt down the ice of the ‘cold war’ in the hearts of millions and changed the world into a better place.   Today the ideology that forms the core of Ukrainian independence is shared with Paul McCartney’s own ideology. 

Independence Concert serves to promote happiness, freedom, love and peace not only in the Ukraine but also to the entire World. It is planned that this historic concert will be broadcast live on screens in cities across the Ukraine for those who can’t make it to Kiev.

Paul McCartney said: “I’m very excited because on the 14th of June I’ve been invited to play a concert in Independence Square, Kiev.  Me and the band are going to be there and we’re going to have to a great evening and we hope to see you there.  So come along, it’s going to be great evening hopefully for the Ukraine.  Pull together, groove, rock and roll – all together”

Victor Pinchuk, Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist and founder of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation said: “One could not imagine this 30 years ago. Nobody could even dare to hope for this 20 years ago. One could only dream about it 10 years ago. 5 years ago we could only envy our neighbours for whom this became a reality. And finally the day has come. For the first time we have the opportunity to hear the songs that changed the world and created a new culture. The songs that we grew up with and became who we are. These songs tell us about very simple but nevertheless important things: real love can’t be bought and that real friendship can’t be sold. There is much more to what unites people than what divides them, and in reality it’s not an impossible task to become a better person and to make the world a better place, especially if you do it all together. Recently, we had not so many reasons to unite. Not to group under some political flags but to really gather all together.

There are not so many ways to bring together the East and the West, to make the young and the mature closer, to combine different convictions and aspirations into one common national idea of building a free, tolerant and prosperous country. And I believe that this initiative and the concert can help us

In addition to the concert the Victor Pinchuk Foundation will also be exhibiting 40 of Paul’s paintings at the Pinchuk Art Centre, the largest in Eastern Europe. This will be Paul’s first exhibition in this part of the world. His first art exhibition was in Siegen, Germany in 1999. Paul will personally open the exhibition.

From the official website for the event, June 4, 2008:

The assembling of the Independence Concert stage started today – 10 days before the concert. It will be the largest stage that has ever been set up in UKraine. More than 50 trucks ship the stage, light, sound and video-screens from all Europe to Ukraine. LeRoy Bennett worked on the set-design of the stage specially for the architectural complex of the Independence Square in Kiev.

From the official website for the event, June 15, 2008:

On Saturday 14th June over 350,000 concert goers braved adverse weather conditions as Paul McCartney played the biggest concert in the Ukraine’s history. Throughout the day the heavy rain and thunder put a question mark over weather the show would even be able to take place but as soon as Paul McCartney took to the stage at 9:30pm, greeting the crowd in Ukrainian, the skies cleared. He kicked off the two and a half hour concert with ‘Drive My Car’ and then performed a show the likes of which Kiev had never seen.

The concert took place in Kiev’s historic Independence Square. The crowds filled all the roads surrounding the square and the concert was shown all around the city on screens that were specially put up for this event. The concert was also beamed live to six major cities (Harkiv, Dniepropetrovsk, Sevastopol, Lviv, Donetsk and Odessa) across the Ukraine where over 195,000 people came out to watch the show. The show was also broadcast live on Ukraine TV. It’s estimated that the total amount of people that watched the Independence Concert in the Ukraine was more than 10 million.

Paul and his band played 33 songs including some of the world’s most popular hits that have become the soundtrack to so many people’s lives. Paul played hits by The Beatles including ‘All My Loving’, ‘The Long And Winding Road’, ‘Good Day Sunshine’ and ‘Hey Jude’. He played Wings hits such as ‘Jet’, ‘My Love’ and ‘Band On The Run’ and solo songs including ‘Flaming Pie’ and his most recent hit single ‘Dance Tonight’. Show highlights included a version of the Wings track ‘Mrs. Vanderbilt’, which fans had petitioned for Paul to play and of course a storming version of ‘Back In The USSR’. The audience spanned generations and sang along with every word, the massive crowd made an overwhelming sound when they joined in with Paul on ‘Hey Jude’ and the elaborate stage featured some of the biggest screens ever used for an outdoor show as well as lasers and fireworks.

After the audience had thought the show was over, Paul returned to the stage waving a Ukrainian flag before ending the night with an emotional performance of ‘Yesterday’ and rocked up ‘Sgt. Peppers’.

Throughout the day Paul spent time meeting locals and fans that had waited over 40 years for their hero to come to this part of the world. He was given a special performance by a choir of children that perform Beatles songs and presented with a traditional Ukrainian stringed instrument, the kobza, by the Ukrainian Beatles fanclub.

This unique and free concert for the people of Ukraine was organised by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation. Paul McCartney and Victor Pinchuk announced the show back in April of this year.

Victor Pinchuk said, “Today the dream of millions became a reality. It was really important that the people of Ukraine should get to hear these great songs here in their own country. All the Ukraine spoke one language. A language of peace, love and freedom. Today we were all together.”

From NME:

Paul McCartney performed in front of 350,000 people in Kiev tonight (June 14), the largest audience for a gig Ukraine has ever seen.

The former Beatle and his band performed a mammoth 33-song set in the capital’s Independence Square, playing songs including ‘Drive My Car’, ‘Blackbird’, ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Hey Jude’.

McCartney also performed a number of songs from his solo career and his time with Wings, such as ‘Jet’, ‘C Moon’, ‘Dance Tonight’ and ‘Mrs Vanderbilt’, the latter of which fans had petitioned for.

The gig was simultaneously broadcast on giant screens in six other Ukrainian cities and on television, with an estimated 10 million people watching.

On February 24, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” in Ukraine during a televised broadcast, marking the start of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

On February 28, 2022, Paul McCartney sent a brief support message to Ukraine on social networks, including a photo from the 2008 concert in Kyiv.

On July 3, 2022, NBC TV broadcast the programme “Ukraine: Answering The Call”, to raise awareness about and funds for Ukraine. The programme showed Paul McCartney and his band performing John Lennon’s song “Give Peace A Chance” during their 2008 concert in Kyiv.

From Paul McCartney on Facebook – February 28, 2022 – Remembering playing for our friends in Ukraine in Independence Square in 2008 and thinking of them in these difficult times. We send our love and support. #StandwithUkraine

Last updated on November 23, 2022

Independence Square

This was the 1st and only concert played at Independence Square.

Setlist for the concert




Foxy Lady

Written by Jimi Hendrix






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