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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 April, 2003, 01:19 GMT 02:19 UK
Macca rocks Sheffield
by Linnie Rawlinson
BBC News Online in Sheffield

Paul McCartney, Back In The World Tour, Hallam FM Arena, Sheffield 5 April 2003

Album cover
As Paul McCartney arrived in Sheffield to kick off the UK leg of his Back In The World tour, the big question was: Could Macca carry the weight of his Beatles legacy?

Things looked shaky to start with, as the show began with a dreadful overly-dramatic mess that might have been the opening ceremony of the Millennium Dome.

From all four corners of the arena entered a budget version of Cirque de Soleil who gambolled in front of shots of the Acropolis. It was all very Spinal Tap - though sadly without the dwarves.

This rather bizarre opening climaxed as a guitar appeared on the largest screen, closely followed by a silhouette of a rather trimmed-down Macca himself.

Bizarre? Certainly. Pompous, for sure. But the crowd roared - some had been waiting for this moment for 40 years.

Macca magic

He sprang into a hyped-up Hello Goodbye, backed by an effective Ringo-inspired drummer, keyboards and unremarkable guitars.

But McCartney's bass lines shone through - the Macca magic and charisma were still there.

At 45 for nosebleed seats, money may not buy you love but it does get you nearly three hours of classic Beatles songs

Then came a couple of tracks from his latest album, Lonely Road and Driving Rain.

It is only fair to say that these were the weakest of his set - next to songs some 40 years older, they were amiable enough but bordering on the bland.

McCartney's acoustic interlude was headed by a touching rendition of Blackbird and a fresh and hopeful sounding We can work it out.

Harrison tribute

His tribute to John Lennon received one of the biggest cheers of the night, and was followed by a affectionate ukulele version of Something dedicated to George Harrison, erstwhile George Formby fan.

Then McCartney returned to the stage to rescue the recently-butchered Long and Winding Road

Fool on a Hill followed tales of New Orleans and Tokyo masseuses, then came Eleanor Rigby before the band returned to the stage for a faithful rendition of Michelle.

It was now time for Macca to wig out with the Wings songs, which worked brilliantly in the arena setting.

The theatrics of Maybe I'm Amazed and Band on the Run were positively foot-stomping.

Enhanced by the video shots of 70s planes and Paul and Linda living the jet-set lifestyle, you couldn't help but feel that McCartney was perhaps happiest then.

Genuine

As we entered the final stretch, we were treated to an acapella She's leaving home, Can't Buy Me Love, and a bombastic Live and Let Die, heralded appropriately by fireworks in all the right places.

The finale of the main set was a triumphant Hey Jude, complete with audience participation and shots of Heather Mills, Macca's wife, waving her arms in the air (yes, she was there too).

Then McCartney returned to the stage to rescue the recently butchered Long and Winding Road, which, once free of its Pop Idol mauling, proved sweet and genuine.

Lady Madonna followed, played against a cloying backdrop of female icons - but this was saved by a whoo-inducing, head-shaking Saw Her Standing There.

Smug yet justified

Hearing Yesterday played by the man who wrote it was revelatory, underlining how stunningly fresh the Beatles songs still sound.

Then McCartney and co rounded up the evening with a storming, yet strikingly appropriate, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

At 45 for nosebleed seats, money may not buy you love but it does get you nearly three hours of classic Beatles songs.

McCartney was friendly and relaxed throughout, and though he was perhaps a little smug, the sheer volume of back to back hits left him thoroughly justified.

The tour plays Sheffield Hallam Arena 5 and 6 April, Manchester Men Arena 9 and 10 April, Birmingham NIA 13 and 14 April, London Earls Court 18, 19, 21, 22 April and Liverpool Kings Dock 1 June.




SEE ALSO:
Paul McCartney UK tour: Your views
06 Apr 03  |  Entertainment
McCartney to play Liverpool gig
26 Mar 03  |  Entertainment
Back In The World: Your views
20 Mar 03  |  Entertainment
McCartney's world gig
17 Mar 03  |  Entertainment
McCartney earns rich list title
06 Mar 03  |  Entertainment
New dates for McCartney tour
21 Feb 03  |  Entertainment


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