A homecoming gig is always bound to be a special one, so when Paul McCartney brought his Out There tour to Liverpool’s Echo Arena for his first full concert in the city in 3-and-a-half years, a special night was guaranteed for all.
The last gig in Liverpool was on Paul’s On The Run tour in 2011, it was an absolute crowd-pleasing christmassy extravaganza, (full Liverpool 2011 concert review here), however he has skipped his home country in the following years. So when four UK dates were announced as part of the Out There tour, tickets were snapped up in next to no time.
The day of the show was bright and mild, and as the thousands of fans from all corners of the world descended upon Liverpool, they got to fully enjoy all it had to offer without the threat of a traditional UK downpour!
It was soon approaching showtime, and as the legions of fans waited outside on the banks of the Mersey, Paul and the band soundchecked the arena, playing songs not included in the main show.
Blue Suede Shoes
Let Em In
It’s So Easy
I was fortunate enough to obtain special guest passes that allowed access to the backstage area prior to the concert. In a room backstage, guests were allowed to indulge in the generous buffet and the fully stocked free bar. While partaking in a drink or two we noticed members of Paul’s family and tour crew mingling with the guests.
With friendly staff ready to help however they could, this experience was enough of a treat! However more special guests started to appear, including long time band member Paul “Wix” Wickens and Macca’s brother Mike McCartney. And then suddenly and totally unexpectedly Paul McCartney himself strode through the door and over to family members for a quick chat. While I was completely starstruck I was conscious that I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’! So I played it cool and didn’t bombard him with photos (though I did get a sneaky one on my phone) or autograph requests and just gave him an absolute bog standard Northern “you alright?” as he headed back out of the room. I was rewarded with a high-five as he passed and a genuine “Alright! Enjoy the show!” from him. I was more than happy with that!
Next into the room burst comedian Peter Kay, shouting, laughing, joking, encouraging people to take photos and selfies, which most of the room happily did! He spent quite a while in the room just entertaining people before he was dragged out by his girlfriend and we were ushered into the arena and to some fantastic upgraded seats. The backstage experience itself was fantastic and made the concert even more special and unique.
At around 8:20pm the band – consisting of Rusty Anderson on guitar, Brian Ray on guitar/bass, Abe Laboriel Jr on drums and Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens on keys – took to the stage.
Opening the show with Beatles hit Eight Days a Week it was clear that there was an electric, party-like atmosphere in the arena that the Birmingham show the previous night sorely lacked (full Birmingham concert review here). And mentioning the previous nights show, it was evident that Paul’s voice was in just as good if not better condition than in Birmingham, a valid concern with back-to-back shows.
There was also a special surprise for Paul from the fans: upon entering the arena, record sized posters had been handed out to as many people as possible, on one side a Union Jack love heart and on the other the words ‘WELCOME HOME PAUL’. As he took to the piano for The Long and Winding Road, fans throughout the arena held them up, a touching gesture that clearly brought a lump to Paul’s throat.
Some highlights of the show included performances of the 1980 early electronica Temporary Secretary, and one of the very first performances of his most recent tracks Hope for the Future, written specifically for the video game Destiny. In a show studded with more hits than you can shake a stick at, some of the big crowd pleasers were lesser known tracks: the relatively new Queenie Eye, the jauntily feverish Beatles singalong All Together Now and the piano driven Wings rocker Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five.
Living up to the tours name, half way through the show Paul made his way onto a platform that rose several meters into the air to sing two songs alone, accompanied only by his guitar: the quiet Blackbird and Here Today, his tribute to John Lennon. A platform was a very nice feature, but for the people right up front he rose too high for them to see. Still, it gave the rest of the audience a slightly better view of the main man for a while.
To top the show off there was an on-stage proposal. The guy (obviously having had a few too many drinks) was brought up on stage, got down on one knee, and proposed to his girlfriend…and Paul. Repeatedly! Luckily he did eventually get serious and do it right, although as the newly engaged couple embraced each other, Paul congratulated them and jokingly added to the lady: “if I was you I’d get him to ask you again in the morning when he’s not pissed!”
Paul brought the show to a close with a screaming rendition of Helter Skelter and the sweepingly epic Golden Slumbers medley from The Beatles’ final album Abbey Road – a perfectly fitting end for a concert of this scale.
One incredible thing about Paul McCartney is that he never took a break. 3 hours hopping between bass, electric guitar, piano, acoustic guitar, ukulele…all without a sip of water or a moment to relax. While this is standard practice for him, it is still pretty inspiring to see a 72 year old man that has been in the business for over half a century with more energy and life in him than some people half of his age!
Filing out of the arena into the cool night air, fans were contentedly aglow knowing that they had just witnessed a legend bringing his A-game to his home town. And so in their droves they headed over to Mathews Street, to The Cavern for a few drinks back where it all started over 50 years ago.
Paul McCartney setlist
Eight Days a Week
Got to Get You Into my Life
Listen to What the Man Said
Let Me Roll It / Foxy Lady
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
The Long and Winding Road
Maybe I’m Amazed
I’m Looking Through You
We Can Work It Out
Hope for the Future
And I Love Her
All Together Now
Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite!
Ob La Di, Ob La Da
Band on the Run
Back in the USSR
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Hi Hi Hi
Can’t Buy Me Love
Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End