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Macca returns

The Liverpool Sound, highlight of Capital of Culture year, has happened. Angie Sammons watches the much-loved Paul McCartney to see if he still cuts the mustard

Written by . Published on June 2nd 2008.


Macca returns

BY rights, we should have all been sitting in the Salthouse Dock watching Paul McCartney on Sunday night. In what was always going to be the crowning height, the apex of Culture year, The Liverpool Sound was originally meant to be a spectacular feast for the eyes, as well as the ears.

While Anfield may have not been
built for song, the acoustics are tremendous. It's
what makes You'll Never Walk Alone sound so hair-raising when the Kop is
going at it full pelt

A star-studded concert surrounded by photogenic buildings (think DVD sales) was the vision. The dock was to have been drained, to pile in the crowd, and the fish therein stunned until the gig was over. Sound complicated? It was.

But wherever Paul McCartney was going to set up his amp in 2008, you had to be there, and so it was that 35,000 people dutifully trooped into Anfield on Sunday night.

Thirty-five thousand, all giving it large on the hallowed turf of Liverpool 4. They punched the air at the massive proscenium arch stage that was built the entire length of the Anfield Road end; they chanted (more of that later); they sat on shoulders; they danced with glee and finally, in Capital of Culture year, there was a party for the people.

There are only two things to remember when you go to a Paul McCartney gig. First, you are in front of one of the world's greatest pop songwriters - and don't argue. Second, you are being treated to that very person performing those selfsame greatest pop songs the world has ever known.

Forget the frigging Frog Chorus and that idiotic line people spout, with moronic predictability, in ill-thought debates they will always lose about McCartney being a lesser talent than Lennon.

McCartney is (still) quite the powerhouse and his extensive catalogue has defined a good half-century. Trouble is, his stuff, and the man who made the left-handed Hofner violin bass his own, are as familiar as your own left arm, so it's easy to take 'em for granted. Do so at your peril. One day, in your children's lifetime, there will be no Beatles in the world.

And so to The Liverpool Sound. In a turbulent couple of years when Capital of Culture has been termed many things, this was the big chance; the main event that could not be blown. Everyone, despite a mass booing at MC Peter Kay's mere mention of the council, really wanted this to work.

MPL, McCartney's own production company, took the running of the show out of local hands just a few weeks ago, and you can tell these people know their stuff. The Liverpool Sound ran like clockwork, and the only time you noticed everything was not just so was when the big man fluffed the odd lyric or two.

In songs that are indelibly etched on the collective psyche, we instantly noticed - and we let him off. As Macca himself said: “This is my show, I'll do what I like.”

The Zutons were fabulous on a big stage, but the sheer energy and verve of The Kaiser Chiefs is blinding. If you were to custom build bands to play stadiums, this lot would be the prototype.

After their blister, it was immediately apparent that Macca's voice, still cutting it as bluesy as ever, mind, was mic'd up a notch and he was certainly pacing his delivery to go the distance of the gruelling set. Meanwhile, the volume on the rest of the band was just a teeny, tiny notch down to equalise it, meaning no vocal straining but making it all sound as if someone had turned the telly down.

The ex-Beatle, 66 in a couple of weeks, is still in sprightly shape, though, and did his fair share of regular vaulting from piano to front stage to prove it.

After the opener, Hippy Hippy Shake, which was all over the shop, the band quickly recovered to deliver a set of goodies for almost two hours, aided and abetted by the excellent David Grohl, and, as far as the ecstatic crowd went, nothing else mattered.

And then the songs: Stunners written for Linda like My Love and the not-oft-performed Let Me Roll It, and the eternally glorious Got To Get You Into My Life. As dusk came over Anfield, so the air was stilled by the opening riff of Blackbird, followed by hit after hit.

Back in the USSR, written only for studio, finds its true home in front of the masses, and it would be a mortal sin to allow George's Something, tonight on ukulele, to never be performed live again. The Live and Let Die fireworks did not disappoint, nor did Penny Lane, after a false start, and anthems like Band on the Run, and the balladeer's sterling performances of Let It Be and the Long And Winding Road sealed the day with the entire stadium on its feet.

And what of the venue? While Anfield may have not been built for song, the acoustics are tremendous. It's what makes You'll Never Walk Alone sound so hair-raising when the Kop are going at it full pelt, and tonight there were similar goose bumps when all colours united on Hey Jude and John's Give Peace A Chance.

It may have been second best choice, but this was Premier League stuff for the population.

Good enough, indeed, to stun even the fish.

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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

youngerthantwiggyanywayJune 2nd 2008.

Great piece of writing there Angie! I was really impressed by Macca, minor squeaks and all. It is so easy to forget that he really IS talented. Also, as I watched and listened, I kept on thinking, what IS he thinking? "Here I am, and Lennon and George are dead, and this city is where I came from and..." He must have been very emotinal.

DaveJune 2nd 2008.

I just thought the Macca Gig was truly fantastic. Th eother bands were great but I went with my 10yrs old daughter to really see Macca and he was even better than i could believe. The atmosphere was beautiful and to hear everyone singing was amazing. We both loved every minute and wanted it to go on for ever. Macca u are the man !

merseygirlJune 2nd 2008.

A fantastic night - but slightly spoiled by the confiscation your own carry out - only to make you pay for their rubbish food (don't be on a diet if you go to Anfield!) - and expensive drinks. It sucks. But apart from that - absolutely wonderful.

AnonymousJune 2nd 2008.

Spot on. I was there and you capture the thing and all

Anne FieldJune 2nd 2008.

It sounds GREAT! People stumped up £85 to have their sandwiches, bags, umbrellas and cameras confiscated, and the toilets were a disgrace.This is what Storey and his Culture Co show our international visitors!

BrianPJune 2nd 2008.

I have been to every Macca concert in Liverpool - and this was way, way the best - shows that some mature with age - he was unstoppable. Thanks to Macca and his crew, also Angie's review was spot on. GREAT !!!

LouJune 2nd 2008.

What a really class night. We had a whale of a time - a stunned whale of a time you might say. LOL!!

proud mancJune 2nd 2008.

it really was bloody marvellous..I wasn't a macca fan until sunday night, he really excelled and worked the crowd so well, yet still managing to appear like one's friend. Well done Lpool!

Penny LaneJune 2nd 2008.

This is the fourth time i've watched Macca perform and he just gets better and better. Live and Let Die was just amazing - never fails to disappoint. Loved the Concert!

red snapperJune 2nd 2008.

Loads of people had their cameras confiscated, only to never see them again.

anfieldangelJune 2nd 2008.

I went with my boyfriend and loved every minute of it. being born and brought up in anfield myself and having Paul McCartney play down the road was amazing! didnt even notice the little mistakes people had mentioned as was too wrapped up in the atmosphere and singing. it was truly a once in a lifetime experience!

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