Macca and cries – Paul McCartney in Birmingham

Puppy Fortunately, Lady BSM and I had the entire week off, with the added excitement of seeing Paul McCartney in Birmingham at The NIA, now known as The Barclaycard Arena, for goodness’ sake. The Sexton and Pen had also decided to come along, which was a bit of a surprise, since I never saw my friend The Sexton as a McCartney fan. In fact, when I announced on social media that we had purchased tickets, the reaction proved that Macca wasn’t universally liked. ‘Oh dear, never mind’, ‘He’s rubbish’, ‘My wife hates him’ were just a few of the comments I received. Yes, I was aware of the television appearances he had made regarding events toadying up to the royal family, when he appeared out of tune and out of time, but this was still Paul McCartney, a Beatle and one of the greatest living songwriters of the 20th century. We sat in the upper tier and waited for the show to begin*. I surveyed the crowd, which was different from the Al Stewart and Paul Simon/Sting audiences that I’d studied. This gathering included obvious Beatles fans, now diehard pensioners (perhaps diehard is the wrong adjective),Wings fans (my age group) and people in their 20s and 30s and kids. In short, everybody was represented. He was due to start at 7.30pm, but by 8pm, there was still no sign of him. They were playing all the old hits and showing photos through the decades on the big screens dwarfing the sides of the stage and for a moment I thought that by the time he comes on, we would have heard all the best songs. Of course, almost immediately I knew this was a foolish one. Earlier in the day, The Sexton had explained that Pen had asked if Paul McCartney had written many hit songs, a question The Sexton found to be incredulous. Of course, like the 45 minutes of McCartney/Wings/Beatles tracks we listened to, it would be impossible to name all of the great songs he’d written. Naming just a few would be like picking up a handful of stones on a pebble beach. By 8.10pm, the crowd were getting restless and McCartney was showing how it was done old rocker style. I tried to remain nonchalant, since this was just an opportunity to see somebody that I used to avidly follow as a teenager but didn’t listen to that much these days. The lights lowered. The crowd hushed then a ripple of applause spread out across the large auditorium. Paul McCartney appeared. OHMYWORDPAULMCCARTNEYIT’SPAULMCCARTNEYOHMYWORDMCCARTNEYIT’SPAULMCCARTNEY A voice shouted inside my head and I sprang to my feet, applauding like a seal on angel dust. The band launched into ‘Eight Days a Week’ and I was in raptures. You see, I’d forgotten how much of a fan I was. All those hours spent sharing a bedroom in our council house with my big sister and listening to The Beatles on her portable record player; being in that same room in my teens trying to play Wings guitar solos on my tennis racquet; at college and my early twenties, putting on McCartney’s solo albums. What’s more, his voice was good, the high register particularly so. He rattled through song after song: Can’t Buy Me Love, Listen to What the Man Said, Temporary Secretary, Let Me Roll It, Paperback Writer, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five, The Long and Winding Road, Maybe I’m Amazed, I’ve Just Seen a Face… The only time his voice appeared to falter was during his rendition of’ Here Today’, his tribute to John Lennon, a track from the album ‘Flowers in the Dirt’. This could have been emotion or the fact he was being raised 30 feet into the air on a platform. During ‘For The Benefit of Mr Kite’ I realised that The Beatles never performed the song live and felt quite privileged. He looked great, even his hair looked a normal colour (Lady BSM said that perhaps the stage lights flattered it). ‘Live and Let Die’ reminded me that Wings were an all out rock band, with pyrotechnics, running around and fantastic musicianship. Shame I could never get a ticket to see them, so great was the demand at the time. He sang for nearly three hours, with two encores, including just Paul and a guitar to perform ‘Yesterday’. I left the NIA Barclaycard Arena with a big grin on my face, a bit like the people who sat next to The Sexton, who described them as ‘McCartney train spotters’. To all those of you out there who have decided that McCartney is a nuisance and a joke, I say this: I saw a Beatle, an influential member of the greatest band ever, who has written some of the greatest songs ever and can still perform for three hours without a break even in his seventies. I am still a fan, I’d just forgotten how much of one. We’re going to see Elton John tomorrow. No pressure, then, Elton.   *red lights, green lights, strawberry wine … Wings ‘trainspotter’ fans will get this reference. Name the song.

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About ruralspaceman

A man trapped inside a middle aged body still tries to be hip and trendy. Actually, no he doesn't. He says it as he sees it. as long as it's not too controversial. Living with his wife, Lady Barton St Mary, two children, Miss Katherine and Master Johnny in Randall Towers, he is constantly frustrated by the mechanisms of modern life and the issues raised by being the husband of a high flying executive and member of the aristocracy. All he wants is a quiet life and a full set of Deal or No Deal DVDs. Please help him.
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