herald

Monday 15 October 2018

Review: We still love him

Paul McCartney
The O2

Some had waited six years. Others, their whole lives. Yet, regardless of how long it had been since one of the greatest songwriters of all time entertained an Irish crowd, Paul McCartney's return to these shores was always going to commence with a good old-fashioned stampede towards the O2 entrance; one that quickly reminded security and staff of the phenomenally high regard in which Macca's musical legacy is held.

We are, after all, talking about a man who helped change the face of pop and rock; a living legend whose live shows are, for most people, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Especially these days, what with his latest eight-date tour taking in just seven European cities. Good Evening Europe, he calls it. A fan-bloody-tastic showcase of some of the finest songs ever recorded is how I'd sooner describe it. Yep, it really was that good, folks. Then again, how the hell could it not have been?

Dazzling

An undeniable master when it comes to pleasing a crowd, McCartney only had to give us a wave and we were hooked.

Dressed in a smart black suit with that oh-so-familiar bass guitar swinging from his slim frame, the 67-year-old marvel kicked off his highly anticipated Irish return with the odd yet brilliant Magical Mystery Tour -- the first of many songs to make use of a dazzling mixture of spectacular visuals and lighting.

A master class in rock presentation and performance, the two-and-a-half hours that followed will linger in this writer's mind for quite some time.

Accompanied by some of the finest musicians I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing in a live setting, McCartney delivered it all -- not least an outstanding back catalogue; the contents of which were treated with about as much respect and gusto as you'd expect from a musician of his calibre.

From Drive My Car and Eleanor Rigby, to Back In The USSR, Live And Let Die (Christ Almighty, did you see those flames and fireworks?), and, of course, Wonderful Christmas Time, McCartney presented us with a set-list spanning his career, dipping joyously in and out of his time spent with The Beatles and Wings.

A charming and never-less-than amiable entertainer, he also provided fans with a series of jokes and stories, as well as fitting into the set a rather touching tribute to John Lennon and George Harrison.

Elsewhere, it was lighters in the air and tear ducts at the ready for a couple of marvellous renditions of Yesterday and Let It Be, while I may have fallen out of my seat as soon as the band launched into Get Back.

If there is one bad thing to say about last night, it's that, strangely enough, the majority of the audience took an awful long time to get into the spirit of things.

Thankfully, while it may have been a bit too late in the day, a little tune by the name of Hey Jude changed all of that. There were a few familiar faces among the crowd, too, including Dave Fanning, Ian Dempsey, former Wings guitarist Henry McCullough, and self-confessed Beatles fanatic Ryan Tubridy.

Overall, this was an astonishing performance, and a late -- but by all means, welcome -- contender for gig of the year, if not the decade.

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