Live review: Paul McCartney – Back in the World Tour – Hallam FM Arena (29th May 2003)

The penultimate gig of Paul McCartney’s critically acclaimed massive global ‘comeback’ tour was held – against all the odds and despite a nasty cold and several cancelled gigs – at Sheffield’s Hallam FM Arena.

After several long years of relative inactivity following the death of his beloved wife Linda in 1998, Paul hit the road in style, embarking upon an epic multi legged tour that consisted of 91 concerts spanning 14 months and grossed upwards of $220,000,000USD (£120,000,000GBP).

The Driving USA leg of the tour kicked off in Oakland, CA at the start of April 2002 and ran until mid May. This was followed by the Back in the US leg which began late September in Milwaukee, WI, and ran until the end of October. Up next was the Driving Mexico and Driving Japan legs in November. A Driving Oz leg of the tour was planned to follow, however due to unforeseen circumstances it was postponed until further notice.

Paul then took several months off in order celebrate Christmas and spend time with his family and then-wife Heather Mills. However he returned to the road in the New Year with his European based Back in the World leg of the tour. This began with a show in Paris on the 25th March 2003 and would finish on June 1st with a massive open air concert in his home town of Liverpool.

Close to two months before this concert Paul had already played at the Hallam FM arena as part of the tour. The plan was to play two night back to back, however throughout the first night Paul was battling a cold which started to affect his voice and singing. When it came to soundchecking for the second show, despite his best efforts Paul could only manage two songs before doctors advised him to pull the plug on the concert. This left the thousands of fans waiting outside – some from as far away as Japan and America – with no choice but to obtain a refund.

Later that evening Paul issued a statement apologising for having to cancel the show, but a make-up show would be fitted into the tour schedule if possible. And as luck had it (and at the expense of a show at Glasgow’s Celtic Park) it became possible. The day of the make-up concert came less than a week after the headline-making historic concert at Russia’s Red Square and a mere 2 days before the epic tour finale on the banks of the Mersey in Liverpool.

As the excited crowd waited outside, Paul and the band soundchecked the arena playing many songs that were not included in the main show.


Coming Up
Honey Don’t
C Moon
Things We Said Today
Midnight Special
Here, There and Everywhere
San Francisco Bay Blues
You Never Give Me Your Money
Lady Madonna

Within minutes of the band leaving the stage, the audience were allowed to start entering the arena. They were welcomed by a distinctly exotic aroma of incense sticks and a towering stage bathed in an ominous blue light. This set the eerily exciting mood for the concert preshow: a Cirque Du Soleil-esque set of characters mingled throughout the audience accompanied by atmospheric, trance like remixes of Pauls music echoed through the arena.

The music picked up and became more beat driven and frantic and the characters made their way to the stage, running, jumping, flailing, dancing, the lights were flashing and the music became faster and faster and louder and louder before an almighty electric guitar chord ripped out and the main screen in the centre of the stage burst to life, displaying a huge silhouette of Pauls iconic Hofner Bass. The audience roared as the silhouette of Paul McCartney himself entered – complete with bass – and the screen lifted to reveal Paul and the band bouncing into a hard edged rendition of The Beatles’ Hello Goodbye followed by a storming version of the Wings rocker Jet.

The former Beatle and Wings front man was accompanied by his brand new touring band consisting ofguitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray, drummer Abe Laboriel Jr, and keyboardist Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens (the sole remnant of the old touring band!), who gave the songs a fresh life and an energy that previous live versions had lacked.

The show was filled with many highlights, including songs from his latest album Driving Rain, songs that had never been performed live before this tour, and an intimate part of the show in which the band leaves and Paul gives some heartfelt and moving renditions of classic songs including Something, We Can Work It Out and Every Night.

Once the band returned to the stage it was action packed, energised song after action packed, energised song. Paul brought main segment was brought to a roaring close with the inevitable but much loved Hey Jude. Despite a small portion of the audience thinking it couldn’t get any better and that Hey Jude must have been the conclusion of the concert, Paul ran back out on stage to perform a fast paced three song encore rounded off with the first song from the first Beatles album: I Saw Her Standing There. And once again he left the stage…but he was still not finished with Sheffield! He soon returned – on his own this time – to perform the classic tearjerker Yesterday.

As the final strains of Yesterday sounded the band returned to the stage and finally closed the concert in style with a medley of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band from the Beatles album of the same name, and The End from the seminal album Abbey Road. Paul, Rusty and Brian traded solos for what seemed like an eternity before the song came to a screaming close leaving no room for any doubt that Paul McCartney really was back in the world.

Paul McCartney Setlist

Hello Goodbye
All My Loving
Getting Better
Let Me Roll It
Lonely Road
Your Loving Flame
Every Night
We Can Work It Out
You Never Give Me our Money / Carry That Weight
Fool On The Hill
Here Today
Eleanor Rigby
Here, There and Everywhere
I’ve Just Seen A Face
Calico Skies
Two Of Us
Band On The Run
Back In The USSR
Maybe I’m Amazed
Let ‘Em In
My Love
She’s Leaving Home
Can’t Buy Me Love
Live And Let Die
Let It Be
Hey Jude
The Long And Winding Road
Lady Madonna
I Saw Her Standing There
Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band / The End

Paul McCartney Back In The World Tour Dates

25/03/2003 – Bercy, Paris, France
28/03/2003 – Palau San Jordi, Barcelona, Spain
29/03/2003 – Palau San Jordi, Barcelona, Spain
01/04/2003 – Sportspaleis, Antwerp, Belgium
02/04/2003 – Sportspaleis, Antwerp, Belgium
05/04/2003 – Hallam FM Arena, Sheffield, UK
06/04/2003 – Hallam FM Arena, Sheffield, UK (Cancelled)
09/04/2003 – Manchester Evening News Arena, Manchester, UK
10/04/2003 – Manchester Evening News Arena, Manchester, UK
13/04/2003 – National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, UK
14/04/2003 – National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, UK
18/04/2003 – Earls Court, London, UK
19/04/2003 – Earls Court, London, UK
21/04/2003 – Earls Court, London, UK
22/04/2003 – Earls Court, London, UK
25/04/2003 – Gelredome, Arnhem, Netherlands
27/04/2003 – Koln Arena, Cologne, Germany
28/04/2003 – Koln Arena, Cologne, Germany
30/04/2003 – Preussag Arena, Hannover, Germany
02/05/2003 – Parken, Copenhagen, Denmark
04/05/2003 – Globen, Stockholm, Sweden
05/05/2003 – Globen, Stockholm, Sweden
08/05/2003 – Koenig Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany
10/05/2003 – Colosseum (inside), Rome, Italy
11/05/2003 – Colosseum (outside), Rome, Italy
14/05/2003 – Stadthalle, Vienna, Austria
15/05/2003 – Budapest Arena, Budapest, Hungary
17/05/2003 – Konigsplatz, Munich, Germany
18/05/2003 – Konigsplatz, Munich, Germany
21/05/2003 – AOL Stadium, Hamburg, Germany
24/05/2003 – Red Square, Moscow, Russia
27/05/2003 – RDS Stadium, Dublin, ROI
29/05/2003 – Hallam FM Arena, Sheffield, UK
30/05/2003 – Celtic Park, Glasgow, UK (Cancelled)
01/06/2003 – Kings Dock, Liverpool, UK

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One thought on “Live review: Paul McCartney – Back in the World Tour – Hallam FM Arena (29th May 2003)

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