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This was the first of two nights at the O2 in London, and also Paul McCartney’s 50th solo performance in London. Before the show, he received a PRS award to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the song “Yesterday“.
From paulmccartney.com, March 6, 2015:
Paul McCartney’s first UK show in three years marks the 50th anniversary of the writing of one the world’s most popular songs ‘Yesterday’ and will be Paul’s 50th solo performance in London
Paul McCartney, currently enjoying global chart success with ‘FourFiveSeconds’, a collaboration with Kanye West and Rihanna, announces plans to bring his ‘Out There’ tour to Europe in 2015 for his first full concert in the UK in over three years. The O2 show will coincide with the 50th anniversary of one of the world’s most loved and most popular songs of all time, ‘Yesterday’.
Although the exact writing dates remain uncertain, it will be 50 years this May since Paul finished writing his classic anthem ‘Yesterday’, a cross generational song that continues to stand the test of time. He is first said to have composed the melody in a dream whilst living at Jane Asher’s family home in Wimpole Street, London. Famously, the working title of the song remained as ‘Scrambled Eggs’ for some time afterwards while Paul worked out the exact lyrics. In late May 1965, he finally completed the ‘Yesterday’ we all know and love today during a long drive on holiday in Portugal.
Paul then began recording the track at Abbey Road on June 14th 1965 and it later appeared on The Beatles’ fifth studio album ‘Help!’ The rest is musical history. Although originally not released as a single in the UK, ‘Yesterday’ went on to top the charts across the world including reaching the Number 1 spot on the US Billboard Hot 100.
The song went on to win countless awards including the Ivor Novello Award for ‘Outstanding Song of 1965’. ‘Yesterday’ was also voted the ‘Best Song of the 20th Century’ in a Radio 2 poll in 1999 and was the third most played song on US radio in the 20th century. Guinness World Records has even declared it to be the most covered song ever written, with over 2,200 versions of the song having been recorded around the world by 2013. Even Paul’s very own hero, Chuck Berry, has said ‘Yesterday’ is the one song he wishes he had written himself.
Speaking about the anniversary, Paul said,
“I’m often never aware of these anniversaries until someone points it out. People always say to me ‘hey, did you know it was 30 years since this and 30 years since that’, so it’s impossible to stay on top of it all. But I never need an excuse to celebrate so it’s always nice to hear! For me it’s a happy coincidence that The O2 show falls at this time. It’s great that people all over the world reacted so well to the song, it’s all you can hope for! It feels like it has taken on a life of its own over the years. The song still is and always has been an important part of our live show. It’s always very emotional for me to hear crowds singing it so loudly at my concerts and I’m looking forward to singing it along with the audience at the O2 in May.”
The concert at The O2 Arena also marks another special career moment for Paul as it will be his 50th solo performance in the UK’s capital since appearing at Live Aid in 1985. Since then, Paul has performed in a number of London’s most iconic venues and locations including the 100 Club, Royal Albert Hall, Earl’s Court, Electric Ballroom, ICA, Roundhouse, Battersea Power Station, Hyde Park, the Olympic Stadium and of course, Buckingham Palace. His most recent London performance was in 2013 when he played a pop-up show in Covent Garden’s Piazza.
It is also fitting that Paul celebrates his 50th London solo performance at The O2. As well as playing there twice previously in 2009 and 2011, Paul used the Millennium Dome (as it was then known) as a rehearsal space in 2004 for his massive stadium ’04 Summer Tour’ which ended with Paul’s headlining performance at Glastonbury, widely agreed to be one of the festival’s greatest moments ever. […]
From The Independent, May 24, 2015:
“The great thing about playing in London, said Paul McCartney shortly after the start of his first gig in the capital for three years, is that you can have your kids and grandkids here watching you,” adding as if noticing the double takes from some of the audience, “well, it is 50 years since ‘Yesterday.’ […]
Yes, that 50th anniversary of ‘Yesterday’ seems to have become a bit of a thing, with the song predictably one of the encores. And, who would be so irreverent now to point that at the time it was just an album track, not deemed worthy of a single release? Besides, the predictable, even the pyrotechnics of Live and Let Die, or the audience sing-along with Hey Jude, are not the highlights of a McCartney show. The highlights are the surprises, those unexpected songs whose deceptive simplicity and infectious happiness immediately evoke an era. The opener was just such a one, 1964’s rarely performed Eight Days A Week.
Those surprises included pure McCartney moments that heightened the already high emotions in the audience, I’ve Just Seen a Face,’ ‘We Can Work It Out,’ ‘And I Love Her,’ a rousing version of ‘All Together Now’, his children’s song from the Yellow Submarine film, to set alongside the better remembered ‘Eleanor Rigby,’ ‘Lady Madonna’ ‘Let It Be’, and ‘The Long and Winding Road’, the purity of his voice when he sat at the piano for those last two making a nonsense of claims that it has lost its lustre. […]
The rarity of an empty stage uncluttered by equipment and rows of musicians, with just McCartney and his two fellow guitarists occupying the expanse of the 02 main stage, and the drummer and other musicians on a tier above, gave a focus and a genuine rock’n’roll rawness to the show.
And so McCartney, jacket off and sleeves rolled up, did a full 40 songs. That he could have selected a quite different 40 songs and still each one would have been a classic is tribute enough to his songwriting skills. That he can still put on a show that really left the audience on such an emotional high is tribute to extraordinary longevity. It can’t go on much longer? They were saying that 20 years ago.
From LoudWire, May 26, 2015:
The night before their headlining gig, Grohl surprised Paul McCartney fans at London’s O2 Arena by coming onstage and performing “I Saw Her Standing There” with the Beatles legend. According to Time Magazine, this is only the second time the pair has performed that song together. The first was at the 2009 Grammy Awards, and that time the Foo Fighters’ singer was on the drums.
From For Whom The Bell Tells, July 17, 2015:
The opening night at The O2 also turns out to be Paul’s 50th solo show in London and half centuries clearly appear to be in the air. Before he hits the stage, he is presented with a special award by British TV favourites Ant and Dec to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the composition of his song ‘Yesterday’.
Ahead of the shows, Paul spoke to London’s Evening Standard newspaper about nerves and the perils of on-stage blunders, saying: “I used to be terrified, as are most entertainers, of making a mistake. Now I realise the audiences don’t mind. In fact – they quite like it. You get these little ‘eureka’ moments – you make a mistake and go ‘Christ’. I did one a few years ago in Paris. I started ‘Penny Lane’ with the wrong verse and I had to stop the song and start again. We ground to a halt and the audience went mad. They enjoyed it and I said, ‘At least it proves we’re live’. The review said it was the most marvellous bit.”
For the record, I watched both London shows and I don’t see any mistakes. Over the weekend, the backstage corridors at The O2 are full of famous faces including Dave Grohl, who comes on stage as a guest to play ‘I Saw Her Standing There’. […]
Last updated on March 3, 2021
Setlist for the soundcheck
Setlist for the concert