Sir Paul McCartney live at London O2 Arena
- By Greg Rose -
- Dec 09, 2011
Sir Paul McCartney bounds onstage live at the O2 Arena in London. Has The Beatles legend still got it? 35 songs and two hours 45 minutes later, the answer is a wholehearted yes. How does he do it?
When you were one half of one of the world's greatest and most prolific songwriting partnerships, it could be easy to get complacent, and McCartney perhaps has at various points of his career. However, here in London he is careful to give the crowd what they want - namely, a lot of Beatles songs. 'Hello Goodbye', 'All My Loving' and 'Drive My Car' all flash past as Beatlemania imagery flickers in the background.
Macca is careful not to overplay the Fab Four card though, and drops in a song by his side-project The Fireman, as well as a choice selection of Wings' cheesiest cuts. 'Jet' is as naff as ever, but 'Band On The Run' is still a euphoric piece of pop. He keeps the atmosphere airy with some well-honed chat, mocking his role as rocking ol' grandad to his grandchildren in the crowd and sharing some tributes to his old mop-topped mates.
It is surprising which songs get the largest reception, with the more advanced in years among the crowd going relatively wild for the likes of an admittedly jolly 'Ob la di, Ob la da', but then sitting back down as the youngsters got stuck into 'Paperback Writer' and 'Back In The USSR'. The five big ballads - 'Hey Jude', 'Let It Be', 'Blackbird', 'Yesterday' and 'The Long and Winding Road' are all received with reverence. It is the latter which is most touching, its simple arrangement allowing Macca's poignant lyricism to shine through.
The most peculiar part of the set is watching McCartney's band - highly skilled players to a man - performing parts I've only previously seen on grainy old documentary footage. Hey, Rusty Anderson - stop singing John Lennon's bit on 'I've Got A Feeling'! Get the hell off George Harrison's solo on 'Something'! These guys must have grown up listening to these songs on old vinyl players in their bedroom the same as me, but now they are onstage playing them with the guy who actually wrote them. Surreal.
Nevertheless, the performance never stems into parody or sheer nostalgia. The bite of 'Helter Skelter' is still there, the loveable tackiness of 'Live And Let Die' enhanced by some pyrotechnics and Ronnie Wood's ramshackle guest appearance on 'Get Back' keeps the fun factor sky high. As an 'Abbey Road' medley closes an unforgettable evening, it is clear Sir Paul McCartney still has the vitality and appetite to do justice to his own back catalogue. Long may he continue to enjoy playing as much as everyone in the O2 Arena enjoyed listening.
Here's the setlist:
All My Loving
Drive My Car
Sing The Changes
Let Me Roll It
Long and Winding Road
Come and Get It
Maybe I'm Amazed
I've Just Seen A Face
Band on the Run
Ob la di, Ob la da
Back in the USSR
I Gotta Feeling
A Day in the Life/Give Peace A Chance
Let it Be
Live and Let Die
The Word/All You Need Is Love
Get Back (joined by Ronnie Wood)
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End