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Paul McCartney Kings Dock - 1st June 2015

By Jean Catharell, Liverpool Beatlescene

Macca comes home to a whole lotta love

For me 1 June had been a long time coming.  Macca was returning home to Liverpool for the 90th and final show of his current world tour.  He’d been to every corner of the world almost, but this was the only “MUST SEE” show on the tour, not just for me, I saw him in Madison Square Garden last year but Liverpool beat that hands down, but for Paul, the band and everyone seated in the King’s Dock, Liverpool.  

What a venue.  A purpose built arena on the banks of the Mersey.  A warm, balmy evening, the lights becoming brighter as darkness began to fall, the shadowy outline of the Cathedral, the Liver Buildings and the dock area itself – pure magic.  I always think there's something wonderful about listening to music in the open air.  This venue can't be beaten.

First up was the sound check where the band jammed on various instrumental tunes that included a very bad interpretation of “Ferry Across The Mersey” – it was all taken in jest as they laughed at each other trying hard to get the tune right.  They never did, but it was interesting to listen to – someone requested it from the side stage and I bet it was Paul!!!  The jamming session ended abruptly as Paul appeared on the stage and hugged each band member.  You’d have thought they hadn’t seen each other in weeks!

The total band sound check included:  India, Coming Up, Volare, Honey Don't, Matchbox, Instrumental Jam, Celebration (where I lost it!), C' Moon, Things We Said Today, Here There & Everywhere, Midnight Special, San Francisco Bay Blues, Lady Madonna, Blackbird, Jam. (not in this order).  After a couple of songs Paul removed his jacket and caused a ripple of screaming from the “tiny audience”.  During this sound check Paul proved that he is not just a Bass maestro – what an awesome lead guitarist he is too.  The Gibson came out and he was rocking away, nice guitar licks too.  Paul continually looked across the arena at the pre show sound check crowd and acknowledged the whoopin’ and hollerin’ with “thank you tiny audience”, “thanks to the people in the corale” – LOL.  He thanked the fuzz by saying “I see the firemen are in.  Oh, it’s not the firemen it’s the fuzz (police) but we thank the fireman anyway”, St, John’s Ambulance and other voluntary workers in the arena.  He was in an excellent mood and we knew this was going to be a night to remember.  The eyes of the world would be on Paul tonight and there’d be high expectations combined with lots of love and emotion.  He delivered on all three.

Almost at the end of the sound check Gerry Stickells, tour production manager (I think), known for wearing loud Hawaiian shirts, appears at the front barrier.  Paul says “This is the man who tells us to stop”.  I’d noticed a row of ladies all wearing the same shirts lined up at the side of the stage.  On the given word they march in front of the stage and dance.  Paul stops playing and laughs and then sings “There’s only one Gerry Stickells”  Pointing to the ladies he says, “Oh look, they’re multiplying.”  This tour must have been a total blast to work on.  One huge family having fun.

End of sound check, everyone disappears off stage.  Doors open almost immediately and the arena filled fairly quickly with people running to be at the front or to find a suitable place to stand.  On this tour people have been able to send text messages to a huge screen on the stage.  The usual smart remarks are there for the world to see and it entertains the crowds as they wait.  Typical scouser type messages like “Paul check your Limo, it’s on blocks”…lol

The pre show began with the performers mingling in the crowds.  Then…..the biggest image of a man and a Hofner bass held high appears in silhouette behind a very large screen.  Suddenly Paul, who limbos under the screen slightly in his eagerness to be in front of it appears on stage to a tumultuous welcome.  Everyone gets to their feet and goes crazy as he stands on stage with a huge smile on his face soaking in the amassed love hysteria from the crowd – THE man is home.

He looked amazing and very emotional as he stared out at 35,000 people standing applauding him.  This was just a taste of the emotion that ran through the whole show for Paul and for us also.  He wore his heart on his sleeve and was teary all evening.  First up, as with other shows, Hello Goodbye.  He did a number of songs before he actually spoke and then said “Hello Liverpool, it’s good to be home and we’re here to rock you.”

Paul was very relaxed and seeing him amongst his own people was special for him and for everyone else.  He adlibbed and deviated sometimes from the script of all the other shows which showed he was comfortable.  It was like being at a private McCartney family party!  This was always going to be the biggie.  Paul himself said “We’ve been to Moscow, we’ve been to Rome but this is LIVERPOOL – this is the one.”

The show was peppered with lots of reminiscences of his earlier life in Liverpool.  He talked about John, George, Stuart Sutcliffe, the hospital where he was born, his family.  The screens showed his red eyes during these moments and it was like he’d suddenly realised who he was, where he was, where he came from and how far he’d come in his lifetime.  He made a very pointed comment to his family.  He looked over to where they were sitting (same place as myself) and in a choked voice said “"I just want to say that as long as we're sitting out here on the banks of the Mersey, that I DO love each and every one of you.”

I’ve included the set list at the end so I’m not going to go through each song one by one.

The crowd were going wild and then during his tribute to John (Here Today) you could literally have heard a pin drop – it was eerie to hear the crowd suddenly go silent.  35,000 people just stopped talking and Paul lost it with the words “I love you……”  His tribute to George though was somewhat different in that everyone sang along.  Around the arena you could hear the voices build, singing “You’re asking me will my love grow, I don’t nooooooo, I don’t nooooooo” – wonderful!  Everyone began shouting “What about Ringo” to which Paul struck up “Yellow Submarine” mentioning that he’d told Ringo he would be doing this at the show.

Although I wasn’t going to mention every song I have to tell you about one or two and the line change in “Two Of Us” – Paul sang “All roads lead to Liverpool”.

He made a comment about being born at Walton Hospital and pointed in the direction of Walton.  Another emotion filled moment as a look crossed his face that said something like “I got from there to here” – it was like he was seeing his life in another perspective.  He was draped over the magic piano at this point and you can see the look in the picture on this page.

Maggie Mae – now there’s a song!  Paul sang all the verses of this well known Liverpool song telling the crowd “We chucked this in for tonight.”  The backdrop changes to images of Liverpool and the crowd go wild cheering each image – the Cathedrals, the docks, The Cavern Club, Eleanor Rigby, the Football grounds, Forthlin Road, LIPA and others.  Shortly after Paul tells the crowd that his brother Mike took the photos that were shown during “Something.”

Before he sang Michelle Paul began telling the story of how the song came to be.  As soon as he mentioned being arty and wearing a black polo neck sweater the girls at the front began screaming.  This was hilarious.  Paul entered into almost a private conversation and each time the polo neck was mentioned the screams followed.  He then said “I think it’s really sad to scream at a garment”….LOL  Carrying on with the story the black polo neck became “the garment”…..you had to be there…this is an in joke amongst a certain crowd of people!!!  We are all black polo neck people and I’m saying no more…..

During the show Paul gave each of the band the opportunity to say a few words.  Wix said that Paul had told him Liverpool was the capital of Ireland!!!  He then produced this silly Guinness hat and actually put it on.  

Rusty said that it was amazing to be playing in Paul’s hometown with Paul.  It was something he’d never forget.  He then said he was going to take a picture of the audience and asked “Would everyone bunch together” (see the pic above).  Lovely, lovely guy.  He then introduced “Maybe I’m Amazed” and this has to be one of the best live versions I’ve ever heard.

When Brian’s turn came he referred to Liverpool as Liverpaul!  He turned to look at Paul saying “Liverpool, you’ve raised a great guy”.  The crowd went nuts!

            I don’t recall what Abe said….sorry Abe!

Frank Skinner was in the audience and at one point he began the chant “Macca’s coming home” to the well known tune of “Football’s coming home.”  Paul listened as the chant ran around the arena and smiled when he realised what it was – I have to say it was pretty awesome to hear.  Skinner then shouted “Top that Macca”.

Cards bearing a red heart and the words “Home is where the heart is.  Liverpool 1 June 2015” were passed throughout the crowd.  During Hey Jude everyone held the hearts up in the air.  Paul began to loose it slightly saying “oh…everybody, what are you doing to me?”  During the fade out he adlibbed a little with words like “And our hearts go out to you too”, “I love you”, “I don’t know what to say now.”  Now I’ve never believed this because I’ve seen Paul in a state of emotion before in various situations but in the past he’s been accused of not being able to show emotion but on the banks of the Mersey he proved the world wrong.  His emotions were in the heart that was on his sleeve the whole evening.  He found it hard to contain the tears as 35,000 red hearts fluttered in the Mersey breeze, he patted his own heart in acknowledgement.

Throughout the show he constantly made references to the fact that this would not be his last tour – which is great news.

I don’t recall at which point in the show he said this but he referenced Liverpool’s bid for the European Capital of Culture by saying “Capital of Culture is coming up, but "Liverpool is the capital of the universe." (After such a great weekend the announcement was made on Wednesday 4 June that Liverpool had indeed been awarded the title of European City of Culture in 2008)

During one of the encores Paul came on with an acoustic guitar saying “When I was 14 years old I wrote my first song.  I have an uncontrollable urge to sing it now and I don’t know why.  I’m not sure it’s a good idea.”  He chuckled at this point as he tried desperately to find the opening chords and tune.  “I’ve forgotten it!” “No I haven’t.  Hang on” – then he launched into “Lost My Little Girl.”  A lot of the crowd appeared not to know this song but then not everybody does I guess.  They sang along to just about everything else though with certain songs getting everyone to their feet.  Band On The Run, Back In The USSR, I Saw Her Standing There, Lady Madonna to name a few.

As the show came to a close Paul did the usual round of thanks to everyone.  The crew, Pab from Crosby who’s at LIPA and is on the sound desk tonight (what an opportunity), the band (his mates), his friends and family.

Paul tried to tell everyone they had to go home.  The crowd shouted “NO” and he said “YES”, the Yes and No went back and forth as Paul hugged the band, took bows and cried.  Shouting “We’ll see you next time” as the fireworks began.  Paul was the last to leave the stage, popping back to throw a fist in the air.

He left the stage again and appeared once more waving the Union Jack flag

It was over.  It was amazing, a fantastic band, fabulous atmosphere, terrific audience.  Paul had been on stage for more than three and a half hours.  It was a very personal and emotional show for him.  The setting added to that emotion.  He sounded like a 25 year old and the quality of his voice is beyond any comprehension for someone his age.  He is an incredibly unique human being with the ability to bring out the best in everyone he touches.  He is filled with “whateveritis” and when we know what that is we’ll bottle it.”  I remember Alistair Taylor once saying “The Beatles had Brand X, if we knew what it was we’d have bottled it”.  Paul still has that Brand X, whateveritis.  

As home-comings go, they don't get much bigger or better that this and I for one will never forget this evening.  As I sat there listening to the music that has become the soundtrack of my life my thoughts wandered back to the day when I saw Paul McCartney for the very first time in Mathew Street.  How lucky am I to have discovered this exceptional man and his three band mates all those years ago?

But the question still remains.  “How can 4 people change the world the way The Beatles did and how can one man achieve so much in his own lifetime and remain a man of the people.”  We will never know the answer.

And in the end……he came home…

Thanks to Jean Catharell, from Liverpool Beatlescene for this report.

>> read review of Paul's Cavern performance 1999

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