The Paul McCartney Project

Unplugged 1991 Summer Tour

From May 08, 1991 to Jul 24, 1991 • By Paul McCartney

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From WogBlog:

These were impromptu concerts at mostly smaller clubs, inspired by the “MTV UnpluggedTV concert and subsequent album. A further concert at Paris L’Olympia was planned, but not announced. It was cancelled when Linda McCartney’s father, Lee Eastman, passed away during the tour. Paul felt that he owed l’Olympia a concert and eventually returned to play there in 2007 on that “other” Secret Gigs Tour.

At Cliff’s Pavillion, Paul and his band backed guest poet Adrian Mitchell on the recital of his poems “Song In Space,” “I Like That Stuff,” “Maybe May Time,” and “Hot Pursuit“. They also added “I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside” to their set list.

Paul McCartney has always been keen on doing secret shows. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, rock tours would cover most of Britain, showing up in the country’s smaller cities to entertain fans. More recently, with a dearth of major arena venues in the UK, big tours tend only to visit the bigger cities – a typical national tour, for example, will play London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Liverpool. In 1991, Paul played a series of surprise shows, including a show in Barcelona and a set at the Mean Fiddler in Harlesden, London. The latter was the smallest venue Paul McCartney had played at since taking a final bow at The Cavern club in 1963 (he would then return to that venue in 1999). He also played shows in Cornwall after his team realised that Paul had never played there, not with Wings, not even with the much-travelled Beatles. The shows were a way for Paul to connect with his audience in a more direct way than he would in a giant stadium.

From paulmccartney.com

There they were, tucked away from blustery May winds in the barn that viewers of the Put It There home-video would instantly recognise, Paul and the band in rehearsal, checking out material and loosening limbs for a return to the road, of sorts, last left in Soldier Field, Chicago more than nine months before.

You might think that after 102 gigs, rehearsals would not be necessary, that chords and notes would be so deeply embedded that they would drop neatly into place at the twitch of a plectrum or stroke of a keyboard. Not so.

Number by number, though, in the barn, the sound of an exciting, tight 24-song set came together, with the odd jam thrown in for good measure just to underline that spirits were high and wavelengths tuned together. Thirteen acoustics and eleven electrics suggested themselves, a varied blend of styles and tempos. Then discussion about riffs and roles, song balance and sound balance.

Taking time out after rehearsals, Paul told CS why the secret gig plan was finally being brought to fruition. “It’s really to keep the band active,” he explained.

Blair [Cunningham] played with us when we did Wogan [to plug ‘All My Trials’] and in the dressing-room after the show I thought we’d better invite him to join us, make it official. And Wix was funny, he said, ‘Yeah, welcome to the group, Blair, and a year off, because they knew I was going to do the Oratorio. And Blair was saying, ‘I love playing, I love playing’ so I thought, ‘I can’t get him in the group and then have nothing for him until October…’

Paul reveals that Blair Cunningham’s joining was another good reason for playing on the MTV Unplugged show. “It kept the band’s hand in, gave us a little bit of a challenge and, yes, it introduced Blair. And now it’s an album, so suddenly he’s on an album, which settles him further, and now we must play. I can’t just be rehearsing the Oratorio all the time.” […]

From Club Sandwich 58, Summer 1991

Interview of McCartney about those secret gigs:

Last updated on June 19, 2019


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