Live review: Paul McCartney – On the Run Tour – Echo Arena (20th December 2011)

After playing shows in America, Russia, UAE and Europe, Paul McCartney brought his acclaimed On the Run tour to a close in style with a special Christmas concert in his home town of Liverpool.

The On the Run tour began in July 2011 with a series of shows at various ballparks across North America and Canada. After this first leg of the tour Paul took a break to get married with New Yorker Nancy Shevell in October. The second and final leg of the tour kicked off in Abu Dhabi at the 2011 Grand Prix closing concert. From there the show travelled across Europe playing shows in Italy, France and Finland as well as making a brief stop in Moscow, Russia.

There had been several special guests during the tour, including Billy Joel providing vocals and piano on I Saw Her Standing There at New York’s Yankee Stadium, and Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood jumping in on guitar to help bring the house down with a storming rendition of Get Back at London’s O2 Arena.

Paul had played a series of UK shows at the end of December in 2010 and unusually heavy snow caused many people (including members of the band) to be delayed and almost not make it to the shows. So understandably people were anxious for the snow to keep away for Paul’s UK shows. Fortunately on the day of the show the weather was surprisingly mild and McCartney fans from far and wide were able to descend upon Liverpool problem free.

While the excited audience stood outside on the banks of the Mersey, Paul and the band soundchecked the arena playing many songs that were not included in the main show.


Honey Hush
Honey Don’t
Blue Suede Shoes
Ebony and Ivory
Only Mama Knows
Penny Lane
C Moon
Things we Said Today
San Francisco Bay Blues
It’s So Easy
Sun is Shining
Lady Madonna
Mull of Kintyre

For this particular concert there was no warm up act. Instead DJ Chris Holmes (dressed as Santa) played a half an hour set consisting of rocking mash ups of various Beatles and McCartney songs while people were steadily making their way into the arena. While he was obviously talented and the music was mixed expertly and sounded brilliant, the vast majority of the crowd were unaware of the DJ up on stage, and when his set fished there was very little applause for him.

The lights dimmed slightly and there was then a short collage of Beatles/McCartney/60’s photos and videos presented on the huge screens at either side of the stage, accompanied by various dancey, up tempo songs. The collage finally drew to a close during Booker T & the MGs cover of The Beatles’ 1969 song The End, the lights went down, and the spotlights blazed into life as Sir Paul McCartney stepped onto the stage in front of his ecstatic home crowd.

The former Beatle and Wings front man was followed by his current touring band consisting of guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray, drummer Abe Laboriel Jr, and keyboardist Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens.

The arena went crazy as Paul turned and counted the band in to a hard edged and up tempo version of the Beatles 1967 track Hello Goodbye. He then burst into a fan favourite: Wings rocker Junior’s Farm. The entire setlist consisted of 39 songs spread out over three hours sprinkled with some extra special treats for his home town.

The first treat came in the form of the sporadically performed and not very well known ukulele song Ram On from his 1971 album Ram. The song is usually performed because of an audience request, and Paul couldn’t fail to miss the huge sign held up mid concert that said ‘PLAY RAM ON!’ Later in the show came a crowd favourite: Penny Lane. Performed for the first and only time on the tour, the song was very warmly received by the audience and had every Scouse in the house proudly singing their hearts out.

The highlight of the concert had to be the festive song Wonderful Christmastime, a song only performed at gigs close to Christmas. Performed for only the second time on the tour, the audience went wild as the first ten rows were sprinkled with ‘snow’ that was falling thick and fast from the roof of the arena. To add to the festive atmosphere the band were joined on the stage by the LIPA (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts) choir, of which Paul is the lead patron.

Paul had one final surprise for the audience during the second encore. Mull of Kintyre is a song usually exclusive only to Scotland and Canada; however he performed it due to it being the 1977 Christmas number one. While it was the songs only outing on the tour, Paul still hired Scotland’s famous 23-piece Loretto School Pipe Band, last used at his concert at Glasgow’s Hampden Park in 2010.

The concert was brought to a close with the final medley of songs from the Beatles final studio album. Paul started off on the piano with the slow, sombre and lamenting Golden Slumbers. It then merges into the anthemic sing-along Carry That Weight before barrelling into the screaming rocker The End in which Paul runs from the piano, grabs his electric guitar and joins Rusty and Brian centre stage for an extended three-way guitar duel.

The concert was the most anticipated show of the tour, and Paul repeatedly mentioned that his Liverpool home crowd was always the best crowd to play to. As the clock pushed midnight thousands of satisfied customers flooded out of the arena and on to the docks and headed towards Liverpool’s famous Cavern club to end the night right back where it all began.

Paul McCartney setlist

Hello Goodbye
Junior’s Farm
All My Loving
Drive My Car
Sing the Changes
The Night Before
Let Me Roll It / Foxy Lady
Paperback Writer
The Long and Winding Road
Come and Get It
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
Maybe I’m Amazed
I’ve Just Seen a Face
I Will
Here Today
Dance Tonight
Mrs Vandebilt
Eleanor Rigby
Ram On
Penny Lane
Band on the Run
Ob La Di, Ob La Da
Back in the USSR
I’ve Got a Feeling
A Day in the Life / Give Peace a Chance
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Hey Jude
The Word / All You Need Is Love
Wonderful Christmastime
Day Tripper
Get Back
Mull of Kintyre
Helter Skelter
Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End

Paul McCartney On the Run Tour Dates

15/07/2011 – Yankee Stadium, New York City, NY
16/07/2011 – Yankee Stadium, New York City, NY
24/07/2011 – Comerica Park, Detroit, MI
26/07/2011 – Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada
27/07/2011 – Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada
31/07/2011 – Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
01/08/2011 – Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
04/08/2011 – Great American Ball Bark, Cincinnati, OH
13/11/2011 – Yas Arena, Abu Dhabi, UAE
26/11/2011 – Unipol Arena, Bologna, Italy
27/11/2011 – Mediolanum Forum, Milan, Italy
30/11/2011 – Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, Paris, France
01/12/2011 – Laxness Arena, Cologne, Germany
05/12/2011 – The O2 Arena, London, UK
10/12/2011 – Ericsson Globe, Stockholm, Sweden
12/12/2011 – Hartwall Areena, Helsinki, Finland
14/12/2011 – Olimpiyskiy, Moscow, Russia
19/12/2011 – Manchester Evening News Arena, Manchester, UK
20/12/2011 – Echo Arena, Liverpool, UK
24/03/2012 – Ahoy, Rotterdam, Netherlands
26/03/2012 – Hallenstadion, Zurich, Switzerland
28/03/2012 – Sportpaleis, Antwerp, Belgium
29/03/2012 – Royal Albert Hall, London, UK
15/04/2012 – Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, Uruguay
17/04/2012 – Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asuncion, Paraguay
19/04/2012 – Estadio El Campin, Bogota, Colombia
21/04/2012 – Estadio do Arruda, Recife, Brazil
22/04/2012 – Estadio do Arruda, Recife, Brazil
25/04/2012 – Estadio da Ressacada, Florianopolis, Brazil
05/05/2012 – Estadio Omnilife, Zapopan, Mexico
08/05/2012 – Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
10/05/2012 – Zocalo, Mexico City, Mexico
30/06/2012 – CASA Arena, Horsens, Denmark (Cancelled)
01/07/2012 – CASA Arena, Horsens, Denmark (Cancelled)
11/11/2012 – Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO
14/11/2012 – Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX
25/11/2012 – BC Place, Vancouver, Canada
28/11/2012 – Rexall Place, Edmonton, Canada
29/11/2012 – Rexall Place, Edmonton, Canada

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