Paul McCartney, O2 Arena, review: Macca masters his past for a thrilling show
Big songs for the big stage dazzle a star-studded crowd
26 May 2015
Hits parade: Paul McCartney showed that he was as at ease with himself as with his Beatles career
He's now a grandfather of eight, a knight of the realm and in his 73rd year. Yet Paul McCartney will always be defined by his decade as a Beatle, popular music’s most popular group.
Ever canny, McCartney is not a slave to his past, nor does he reject it. Starting in Brazil in 2013, the Out There tour came to London over the weekend and on his second of two O2 nights, McCartney was the perfect judge of his own career. Crucially he accepted that even a three-hour, 41-song show would barely scratch the surface of his hits, let alone his catalogue, so he pleased both himself and an adoring crowd including Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, David Walliams and Simon Pegg (Ant and Dec, Brandon Flowers and Game of Thrones star Kit Harington attended the first night).
Paperback Writer was played with the guitar McCartney used on the recorded version and Beatles classics nestled alongside the less-heralded Another Girl from Help!. Wings staples, including a deftly re-arranged Listen to What the Man Said, slipped into solo oddities, most notably a wholly spontaneous Ram On and the rarely aired punk-Kraftwerk of Temporary Secretary.
A deft sprinkling of 2013’s New kept him contemporary, while dedicating My Valentine to his current wife and audience member Nancy Shevell and the stirring Maybe I’m Amazed to first wife Linda showed a man as at ease with himself as with his Beatles career. A tightly drilled four-man band neither played a note out of place nor stole a second of the limelight, leaving McCartney to simply be Paul McCartney. Wisely neglecting to mention the previous evening’s duet with Foo Fighter Dave Grohl, he was everyone’s avuncular uncle.
Despite recent 100 Club and Electric Ballroom shows, McCartney is an arena act with big songs made for the big stage. The light show dazzled, the screens were giant and an all-guns-blazing Live and Let Die featured eardrum-rattling explosions, giant plumes of flame, lasers and indoor fireworks. Let It Be and Hey Jude might be dulled by over-familiarity, but in the hands of their creator, these cornerstones of 20th-century popular culture were given the senses-tingling settings they deserve and in the process we rediscovered what made them great.
It may be impossible to hear Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da without sporting a grin as daft as the song, but mighty, charged versions of Band on the Run, Helter Skelter and Eleanor Rigby underlined McCartney’s undeniable status as a serious and seriously great songwriter.
Rock aristocracy may be all around us in 2015, but there is still only one Paul McCartney.
Paul McCartney Actually Played ‘Temporary Secretary’ & Sang with Dave Grohl Over the Weekend
By Marissa G. Muller
May 26, 2015
Paul McCartney‘s list of hits runs deep, so it’s not often that he deviates from the classics.
But audience members at London’s O2 Arena were treated to an even more special McCartney show when the former Beatle played a rare, unexpected song as part of the setlist.
Five songs into his set, Macca debuted “Temporary Secretary,” a cut from his experimental, synth-heavy second solo album, McCartney II. The premiere was even more unexpected since it came after he played more obvious tracks like the Beatles’ “Eight Days a Week” and”Can’t Buy Me Love,” the Wings song “Listen to What the Man Said” and his solo track “Save Us.”
That wasn’t the only surprise during his 40-song set, though. When he was winding down his first encore with the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There,” Macca had help from Dave Grohl, who’s recently become a pro at singing other artist’s songs.
Plus, Grohl and Macca have become accustomed to playing songs from each other’s catalogues. Two summers ago, Macca and the surviving members of Nirvana—Grohl and Krist Novoselic, along with Pat Smear—ran through their Sound of City collaboration “Cut Me Some Slack” and a handful of Beatles songs and covers.
For a chance to see McCartney pull out more surprises on this tour, check out his upcoming U.S. shows below.
Paul McCartney 2015 Tour Dates:
06/19 – Dover, DE @ Firefly Music Festival
06/21 – Philadelphia, PA @ Wells Fargo Center
06/23 – Charlottesville, VA @ John Paul Jones Arena
06/25 – Columbia, SC @ Colonial Life Arena
07/31 – Chicago, IL @ Lollapalooza