Driving USA Tour

From Apr 01, 2002 to May 18, 2002 • By Paul McCartney

First date:
Apr 01, 2002
Last date:
May 18, 2002
Number of concerts:
Number of countries:


From Wikipedia:

The Driving World Tour was Paul McCartney’s first concert tour of the 21st century and of any kind since 1993’s New World Tour. For the first time in nearly a decade, McCartney returned to the road following the death of first wife, Linda McCartney, the death of George Harrison, and 9/11. This was in promotion of his 2001 album Driving Rain. Paul “Wix” Wickens returned on keyboards and is credited as Musical Director. New to the fold were Americans Rusty Anderson, Brian Ray, and Abe Laboriel Jr. Paul McCartney’s then-fiancée Heather Mills accompanied him on the tour and was in the audience for every American performance.

The tour began on April 1, 2002 when the American leg was kicked off in Oakland, California. The official release chronicling the first U.S. leg of the tour was the CD and DVD Back in the U.S., which itself would be promoted by another leg in the States. The second American leg was followed by visits to Mexico and Japan. A remix of The Fireman tracks and a performance by Cirque du Soleil opened each show. […]

Q: When you went to make the ‘Driving Rain’ album was the idea of doing this tour already in your head?

Paul: No, not really. What happens with me is it’s just always in order and it’s just one step at a time. So it was like: I had enough songs for an album, so then it’s like ‘OK, let’s look around to record it’. My producer, David Kahne, then said ‘Shall we do it with a band or do you just want to multi-track yourself?’

I said ‘Probably with a band, but if it doesn’t work out we’ll multi-track’.

So it was just one step at a time; we got out to Los Angeles; did the album and realised that because the album was going a little bit live and the basis of it was sort of live playing, then it would be interesting to take this out on the road and to work with this band. So that was really about as far as I got. And then we did a benefit concert for Adopt A Minefield in LA, just a little one-off, and I was working with the band there. That worked out OK, so then that was like the first little toe in the water — did I fancy playing live again? But that was like a benefit audience, so I still didn’t know.

And then, after September 11th, the Madison Square Garden concert came up, which again still wasn’t a straightforward audience, there was still a benefit aspect, but it was getting nearer. So I then said to myself and to people who were asking me ‘Well, this will be the toe in the water for me.’ Fairly big toe in a fairly big pool of water! But if I like and enjoy this evening then I’ll probably enjoy touring.’ So it was all these singular events that culminated in the idea that it would be good to get back out on the road.

From the 2003 Back To The World tour book
Paul and the band in LA by Bill Bernstein, 2002
Paul and the band in LA by Bill Bernstein, 2002
Promotional shoot for Driving USA Tour, , 2002
Promotional shoot for Driving USA Tour, , 2002

Paul hadn’t toured in almost a decade at this point. How did the talk of the 2002 tour start?

That was amazing. Working up to the first show was a lot, even though I was so familiar with a lot of the Beatles songs and the bigger Paul McCartney songs. Once you start figuring it out …

Who told you the tour was happening and you were on it?

[Tour promoter] Barrie Marshall probably did. That’s been Paul’s guy forever. He’s just an amazing bloke. He has an English medal of some sort. He’s a wonderful guy and he’s Mr. Detail, and he’s on it.

But I got word about these things. Then it just becomes, all of a sudden, the team. The machine starts kicking in. They all make it happen, and take care of business. That’s also very comforting. Touring on a very small level or a local level, there’s a lot of hats to wear you need to think about. You don’t need to think about any of them when you have a machine like that.

The rest of the band was insanely talented.

They’re so good. [Keyboardist] Wix [Wickens] is very multi-talented. Abe [Laboriel Jr.] is just mind-blowing. A fantastic drummer, and sings very well. Very musical guy. He can play other instruments too. Brian is an incredible guitar player. Super talented. I think once the whole band came together, we realized this was some sort of chemistry that went way beyond anything we could think about.

To zoom out to all these years later, it’s still fantastic to still be playing with these guys. It’s very spiritual. It’s almost sexual in a way since when you’re making music together, in a way, it’s very interactive. Everybody is in this sort of state. It’s hard to explain if you’re not a musician. But it’s very therapeutic as a human. I really miss it when I’m not making this incredible music with these guys. That’s why the band has stuck together a long time.

There’s so many incredible musicians, guitarists, drummers, bassists, keyboard players. There’s so much talent out there. The fact that it just sort of happened the way it happened isn’t lost on me.

Going back to 2002, where did you rehearse for the tour?

We rehearse all over the place. We’ve rehearsed in London, the countryside of England, New York, L.A., and sometimes in venues before the first show. It really depends.

He hadn’t gone out in almost a decade. It’s a new band besides Wix. And you’re playing songs like “Getting Better” and “Hello Goodbye” for the first time since he recorded them in the studio with the Beatles.

The thing about those songs, and I can just speak for myself, is you’re so familiar with them. You know the form of the song. That makes it easy. Then you start really listening to the songs. Speaking for myself, and the rest of the band, really, you want to honor the songs as they go, and the hooks. You want to make sure the hooks stand out, and you don’t mess that up.

You also want to give it some life, some expression, some slight English to it, and angles that are an expression of yourself as the player. Those things, I sort of did naturally. You have how you want to hear the song, how you want to express the song, how you want it to feel, especially in a live situation. You don’t want to be doing a karaoke of it. That wouldn’t really serve the song.

Was Wix helpful in this early period since he’d toured with Paul before?

A little bit. We all sort of figured out our parts and what to do. A lot of it fell into place. Paul plays a lot of instruments. On certain songs, he’s playing bass. On those ones, Brian and I will both be playing guitar. Then he’s playing piano or acoustic guitar, and Brian will switch to bass. It varies. People are switching up guitars and tunings and instruments. It sort of somehow all became intuitive.

That 2002 tour was super exciting since he’d been gone for so long. I’m sure you felt all that energy on the stage.

Absolutely. There’s nothing like it. Doing shows with Paul and to have that amount of appreciation and screaming, and looking into the audience and seeing people cry … It’s intense. You have to look away or you’ll get caught in it. […]

A tour with five-star hotels and private jets and big arenas was new territory for you in 2002.

Absolutely. It was more of a five-star situation than anything I’d done before. I have to say, if that would have happened to me in my twenties, it might have been spoiling, almost problematic. I feel bad looking at childhood stars like Michael Jackson since they don’t have any perspective on life. You don’t have any appreciation.

Having it happen later, I was much more able to appreciate the incredible gift of that situation. And it’s these same thing with my daughter, who I had later in life. I think if I had been in my twenties or something it would have been really hard.

Rusty Anderson – Interview with Rolling Stone – October 11, 2023

Last updated on October 15, 2023

27 concerts • 2 countries

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