More from year 2023
Oct 17, 2023 • Australia • Adelaide • Entertainment Centre
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On the eve of the Australian tour opener for his “Got Back” tour, Paul McCartney and his band held a private rehearsal at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre. Afterwards, Paul participated in a 25-minute Q&A session with 30 competition winners, moderated by journalist Sean Sennett. He then performed a six-song, 25-minute set, reprising material the band had previously rehearsed. All phones were confiscated at the door, and the only ones aware of the timing and location of this event were the competition winners and select members of the media.
Speaking words of wisdom, Sir Paul McCartney sits on stage surrounded by a small coterie of his most adoring fans. The scene is very different from the one that greeted the songsmith upon his arrival in Australia 59 years ago, at the peak of Beatle-mania. Back in 64, an estimated 350,000 people lined the streets of Adelaide to catch a glimpse of McCartney and co.
At a sneak peek ahead of the music legend’s Wednesday-night gig at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, a much smaller — but equally effusive — audience was treated to a far more intimate Q&A encounter as McCartney reflected on his life and work.
“It was just great, it was fantastic — it was something special,” McCartney said, in response to an audience member who asked about the Beatles’ Adelaide visit. “It was overwhelming really, because … we’d seen big crowds and we’d had all the screaming and stuff, so we weren’t kind of bowled over by that — but that many people, it was insane.”
McCartney’s current tour Got Back is intended as a medley of music from different stages of his career, which has spanned more than six decades and included songs with The Beatles and Wings, as well as his solo output. While the show itself is not quite a magical mystery tour, McCartney believes there is thaumaturgy in melody. In many respects, music is the theme that runs through his life. It has made him who he is today, and still consumes many of his waking moments — and some of his sleeping ones.
“Someone said to me once, ‘Do you believe in magic?’ and I said, ‘Well, I’ve kind of got to’, because a couple of my songs I sort of didn’t write. I woke up one morning and then there was this tune in my head and it turned out to be Yesterday,” he said. “It just arrived and I didn’t have to sit down and write it or anything.“
Let It Be emerged from the ether in similarly mysterious circumstances, in one of “those kind of dreams where there’s someone you’ve lost and there they are”.
“It’s magic,” Sir Paul said. “I had a dream and my mum came to me, and she’d been dead for 10 years, so it was such a blessing to see her in this dream. My mum said to me, ‘Don’t worry … it’s going to be OK’. She said, ‘Just let it be’, and I thought wow. I woke up with that in my mind and wrote that song.”
The reflection accords with a remark he made in the recent McCartney 3,2,1 documentary miniseries, in which he spoke of especially congruous combinations of musical notes, of notes that get along together. Elaborating in Adelaide last night, McCartney made a tongue-in-cheek confession about the observation.
“I’ve nicked that line off Mozart — because someone said, ‘How do you write, how do you compose?’ He said, ‘I like to find the notes that like each other,’” he said.
Music has been more than kind to McCartney, but has not been without its dissonant moments, even — or perhaps especially — at those times of greatest glory.
“One of the lucky things with The Beatles is that [fame] was gradual so you kind of got used to it on that level, then that level, then that level — then when it went to the stratosphere, you were kind of used to it,” he said. “It was great — until it wasn’t. After a while we got fed up with it, so we retired [from touring] and made Sergeant Pepper.“
Asked by a fan about what, after loved ones and pets, he would rescue if he were ever to find his house on fire, McCartney paused — but only for a moment.
“I’d probably grab my guitar. There’s a piano but it’s too heavy,” he joked. “I’m always sitting down with a guitar or a piano and just seeing what comes, and if you’re lucky, it’ll be a fresh idea. I love it. That’s all there is to it. I love music.”
Paul’s return to Australia has been hotly anticipated and the day before the band took to the stage in Adelaide for the first show of the tour, Paul held an intimate Q&A with some lucky local fans. Here are some of our favourite questions (and answers!) from that special day…
Paul: Well, hello Adelaideans! Great to be here!
Rachel: Hi Paul! Thank you so much for giving us this opportunity. As a born and bred Adelaidean, I wanted to ask about when you came here with The Beatles in 1964, and you were looking out at a huge crowd. What were you feeling? What were your emotions at that time?
Paul: It was overwhelming really. We’d got famous and had seen big crowds full of screaming fans and stuff, but seeing that many people, on this scale… it was insane! So, we were just standing there like, ‘This’ll do!’ It was fantastic, you know. It was something special.
Alida and Dana: We just got off the plane a couple of days ago. We took a long flight from the United States and Canada. We were wondering: how do you get over jet lag? Because we’re struggling!
Paul: Sleep a lot, basically! When we came out here the first bit of the flight was from Los Angeles to Fiji. Only trouble was, it was at night when we got to Fiji, so we didn’t really see anything except the airport. But then we slept the whole way. So, when we got here, we kind of started sleeping again, and a friend of ours gave us some tablets that are meant to help with jet lag. A couple of those helped!
Greg: Hi Paul. I’m Greg.
Paul: Hi Greg, I’m Paul!
Greg: This is your fifth visit to Australia, and I wondered if you’ve ever written a song while you’ve been here in Australia?
Paul: I think so. But I can’t specifically say, ‘Yeah, I remember sitting down and writing that song’. But I’m always writing songs, so there’s a very good chance I did! Songwriting is kind of my hobby. So, if I’ve got a day off, it’s likely I might write something just because I love to do it.
Olivia: Hi Paul. My name is Olivia, and I’m here with my fiancé Bill. I do have a strange question: I would like to know if you could only choose one, what would you choose? Bread or potatoes?
Paul: Bread or potatoes? Ha! That is a strange question, and I would have to go for bread. Although I like potatoes too… well, if you’d have said chips, I would have been persuaded!
Kim: It’s an honour to see you here in Adelaide. You’re my favourite artist. My dad is from Liverpool, and I have a lot of friends and family who say hi. My question for you is: do you still have your Rickenbacker bass? The bass you used during your time with Wings?
Paul: Yeah, I do. I don’t play it as much now. I play it sometimes in the studio, but I’ve really got used to my Höfner bass that I play in the show, which is a good one. The Rickenbacker is a bit heavier, physically, so that when I put the Höfner on, it’s so light it kind of makes you play differently. I have to say, I do like the Höfner.
I bought my first bass for about £30, it wasn’t an expensive bass. But now it’s worth a bit more! They turn into investments, which is crazy, but guitars do that no matter who buys them. If it’s a really nice guitar, they tend to go up in value.
Nicola: Hi Paul, I’m Nicola and this is my dad, Vince. It’s Dad’s birthday, so this is going to be the best birthday yet! You have made such an impact on my dad’s life, and in turn, my life. So, I wanted to ask you: who is that person for you that’s made the most profound impact on your life?
Paul: In music? It’s so difficult just to choose one person, really. I’d probably have to choose John Lennon.
Nicola: Dad guessed that.
Vince: I was hoping you would say that, Paul!
Paul: It was so nice because we met through a friend of mine, a schoolmate. And we just got on really well and kept writing and performing and stuff. He was an amazing guy. Really kind of crazy in one way, but very loving in another way. And he was a genius, you know.
Last updated on November 18, 2023