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You’re starting the tour with your first ever show in U.A.E Is it somewhere you have always wanted to play?
“Abu Dhabi? Yes, it’s interesting, I don’t quite know what to expect. It may be a lot of ex-pats, or maybe a lot of local people, or maybe a mixture. So, I’m into it. I like good weather and I think we can expect some there! I think the particular excitement of going to Abu Dhabi is the F1 aspect. For me and particularly for some of the members of our crew who are F1 fans.”
Are you a fan?
“Yeah, I am but the crew are avid. It’ll be good. I hope to see some if we have time. We’ve been trying to get some of my guys into the pit.”
There have been a few drivers that have been in touch that want to meet you…!
“Yeah? That would be good!”
Have you been to a Grand Prix before?
“Yeah, with The Beatles. I’ve been to Monaco – that was good but loud! Even louder than our show”
This tour will see your first trip to Italy since the legendary Coliseum show in 2003. Are you looking forward to going back to Italy and do you have any lasting memories of that night?
“Yes, it was a brilliant, romantic, beautiful night. I mean, being in Rome is always fantastic, but being in front of the Coliseum with half a million people enjoying a free show was fantastic. We had a great time so I look forward to going back. I can still remember the people on the balconies above the street. Having their dinner to the sound of our music!”
You’re also going back to the O2 in London. Did you enjoy performing there in the past?
“Yes, I love the O2, it’s one of London’s great venues. I think one of the things I like about it is that before the O2 arena was built, we rehearsed in what was then the Millennium Dome. I remember my promoter bringing round an American guy who said, ‘We are going to build an arena within this dome’. And we all thought it was a great idea, and now that it’s a reality, it’s especially cool to play. I’ve seen some good people there. I saw the Zeppelin reunion that was there. That was amazing. I’ve seen it from both sides and it’s a great place to play. It’s always great to play in London. It’s the home ground and it’s always nice to be home.”
You will also be touring Sweden and Finland for the first time since the ‘04 Summer’ tour. You spoke to the crowds in their own language – can you remember the language or are you going to be doing some crash courses?
“I will be brushing up on my Swedish and Finnish. I can remember a little but the good thing is that those people speak such good English. But yes, I will be relearning some local phrases, because I like languages – it’s always nice to speak to people in their own languages but I will be brushing up.”
Talking about difficult languages – the tour will also see you going back to Russia. Is it important for you to go to places that The Beatles were not allowed to visit?
“It’s interesting because most places in the world weren’t denied The Beatles, so it’s strange that in some places The Beatles were illegal – it adds a certain fascination to realise that you are playing to a group of people that once weren’t allowed to listen to you.”
Do you have any lasting impressions from when you played there previously?
“Yes. In Russia, playing in the Square, it was amazing. It was great to play ‘Back in the USSR’ twice to the audience, because I’d always wanted to go and play that song. Other performers had gone to Russia before I got there and they had played it. Looking around the architecture of Red Square and The Kremlin was amazing because you’ve seen it all in books. St Petersburg was a complete eye opener because I think that in Britain, years ago, we would have thought of it as kind of a grey place. To go and to realise that Catherine and Peter the Great made this incredible city – just to think about the money that must have gone into it. You have to appreciate what a beautiful place it is and then of course, finally, the people. You know – Russians are cool!”
You’re closing the tour in Liverpool a year to the day since your intimate show there last year, was that a conscious decision?
“No, I actually didn’t know that until you told me. I think that the idea of going back to Liverpool – when you play Lima, Peru, Santiago, Chile, Brazil, Buenos Aires and then you go to Yankee Stadium, NY or Wrigley Stadium in Chicago – there is always that feeling of ‘it would be good to play this for the home crowd’. Just to show them what we’ve been doing all year, so now it’s become a bit of a tradition, to have a bit of a homecoming. Obviously for me that’s Liverpool. Most of the people in the audience would be friends of mine. We love it, and the audience does too. So that’s an unbeatable combination!”