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From Birmingham Mail, May 27, 2015:
It would be fair to say I was a little wary ahead of seeing Paul McCartney.
Not because the man is anything less than a living legend, but because at forty songs I expected the set list to test both his endurance and mine.
To be fair, while his voice isn’t as powerful as it may have been in his pomp, it doesn’t drop in quality as the gig goes on. If anything, when the Beatles tracks sync back into the set later on, things pick up.
That’s predictable. As are the tributes to late Beatles George Harrison and John Lennon.
The biggest band of all time feature as heavily as you would expect and hope, providing both the highlights of the set and the backdrop to the stage with nostalgic images.
Still, let nobody say McCartney relies on them too heavily. The tracks from his latest album stand up firmly alongside the classics. As does the song he provided to the video game Destiny.
Naturally though, Beatles tracks stand out a mile. And aside from the obvious moments that are Hey Jude and Live and Let Die, Blackbird stands out a mile.
McCartney rises high above the crowd to play a solo and it works wonderfully as a vintage performer embracing the arena.
Most impressive of all is the variety displayed across the entirety of a career. We see country, classic rock, ballads, pop and even (whisper it) a little bit of dance.
So there was no need to worry about McCartney and his endurance. By the end, he was still springing about with me left exhausted.
He might be slightly sounding his age by now but he still belongs on these huge stages on this showing.
From For Whom The Bell Tells, July 17, 2015:
Paul arrives in Birmingham just before 5pm, looking extremely smart in a black jacket, crisp white shirt and dark blue jeans. He hotfoots it to the stage where he chats with the boys in the band – Wix, Brian, Abe and Rusty – before opening the soundcheck with a bluesy jam and ad-libs about the host city – “Well, well, welcome to Birmingham,” he sings from the stage. When Paul changes from his Les Paul to his Hofner, the soundcheck attendees go mad shouting out their requests. Many of the “soundcheckers” (as Paul calls them) are part of the ‘Fans On The Run’ group of devotees that we see at many of the shows. They are a terrific collective and always fun to hang out with. Like their idol they have boundless energy and are always up for a great time. Thanks for the badges, guys!
Much to their delight, Paul and the band play ‘One After 909’, a song rich in history written after he and John Lennon first met 58 years ago and first performed in the studio while The Beatles were recording ‘From Me To You’, and famously performed at the rooftop ‘Get Back’ concert in 1969.
Halfway through the soundcheck a fan shouts to the stage, “I saw you in Liverpool yesterday”, which Paul hears and teases: “Did you? That wasn’t me, it was my lookalike. I don’t go anywhere, I just stay in a room all day.” Pointing at himself and much to the amusement of those gathered around, he continues: “This is my lookalike. He (Paul McCartney) doesn’t come out for concerts and things. He just sits in his room watching telly.”
Today’s soundcheck also includes ‘Drive My Car’, ‘C Moon’, ‘Let ‘Em In’, ‘It’s So Easy’, as a special request from the audience (or “A vulgar loudmouth lout” as Paul jokes), ‘Hope of Deliverance’, ‘Follow The Sun’ and ‘Lady Madonna’.
I’ve written about Paul’s soundchecks previously, but it’s pretty impressive when you stop to think about it. Artists for whom I’ve worked with over the years will just run through a couple of songs and check the instruments, but Paul’s soundchecks are almost like a concert in their own right – and often longer than The Beatles shows ever lasted!
Shortly after soundcheck finishes I head backstage to find the man who “just sits in his room watching telly” and, ahem, I can confirm that he is actually sitting in his room watching telly! But I’m certain this is actually the real Paul McCartney and not a lookalike. I have a few pictures to run past the boss for his social media. The team in France have sent me some cool pictures of Paul posters on the street of Paris and in the Metro, and he thinks these could be fun to post on his Instagram feed so we do so.
The show at the Barclaycard Arena marks Paul’s first visit to Birmingham since 2003. Back then, he played an impressive 37 songs; this time he goes even further to play 40 songs.
Tonight’s performance prompts the Evening Mail in Birmingham to run a piece headlined, “Six things we learned from seeing Paul McCartney live”, which were as follows:
1) Paul McCartney is fitter than you or me
2) Wings have some real fanatics
3) He still has it as a songwriter (with big props to ‘Hope For the Future’)
4) The Beatles are the focus of the show
5) Fans of all ages
6) ‘Live and Let Die’ is loud
And here is the verdict of the NME about tonight’s show:
“They [the band] play with the studied perfection proper rock bands don’t usually achieve, but there are fragile moments too – midway through the set, McCartney takes to a riser to perform a solo ‘Blackbird’, and mobile-phone torches twinkle in the crowd. He follows it with ‘Here Today’, his love song for John Lennon, and proves himself to be a wily assassin of an audience’s heartstrings.
“The end of the main set arrives with a feeling of the inevitable: he chimes out the opening chords of ‘Hey Jude’ and the arena rises to its feet. Suddenly, you’re just one of 12,000 people having a good old sing-song, and you get the kind of tingly, everything’s-OK-with-the-world-really feeling you’d need the cynicism of Charlie Brooker to resist.
“McCartney returns with an encore that peals even more from that incomparable back catalogue, including the most mega of all mega-ballads (‘Yesterday’), out-there rockers (‘Helter Skelter’) and a closing number to please the pickiest of Beatles heads – the ‘Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End’ segment from the magisterial closing medley of ‘Abbey Road’.”Stuart Bell
Last updated on March 3, 2021
This was the 1st and only concert played at Barclaycard Arena.
Setlist for the soundcheck
Setlist for the concert