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Last Updated:  Friday, 4 April, 2003, 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK
McCartney is back in the world

By Robert Nisbet
BBC News entertainment correspondent

Sir Paul McCartney has started his UK leg of the Back in the World tour.


Sir Paul McCartney bounces on stage for the soundcheck at Antwerp's Sportpaleis.

Sir Paul McCartney
Sir Paul is one of the world's wealthiest musicians

A gaggle of clowns, who make up part of the warm up show, applaud and cheer each song which reverberates around the empty stadium.

This is clearly what grizzled old roadies call a 'happy' tour. And for good reason.

Sir Paul McCartney and his band of young musicians have been on the road for exactly a year - racking up a fortune in ticket sales.

The American leg alone grossed $126m (80m), making it the most successful tour of 2002.

It's likely to repeat that feat in the UK when the first chords are played in Sheffield's Hallam Arena on Saturday.

In a year's time, the tour will come to an end with a concert, fittingly enough, in Liverpool.

Our role is to lift peoples' spirits, to get out there and remind people of the value of peace and love, which most of our songs are about
Sir Paul McCartney

"The audience will be my relatives, most of them," says Sir Paul. "Where we are playing is on the bank of the Mersey and I like the idea of finishing there, finally bringing the whole thing home."

Before then, he will also play a concert in Russia: "It's the first time I have ever travelled there.

"It's exciting (because) we were chuffed in the 60s when we heard The Beatles were big in Russia.

"We thought, 'Wow! The power of music! We've even got behind the iron curtain.' Also (although) I wrote Back in The USSR, I have never been there and sung it. But lots of other people have."

Peace and love

Sir Paul McCartney is aware that the timing for the start of this second part of the tour couldn't really be worse: Operation Iraqi Freedom began a few days before the first concert in Paris.

He says he didn't even consider calling the tour off.

"Our role is to lift peoples' spirits, to get out there and remind people of the value of peace and love, which most of our songs are about."

I go out there to earn money. All of us go to work to earn money and if we earn a lot of money we're pleased.
Sir Paul McCartney

But the avid peace campaigner who protested against the Vietnam war, the conflict in Biaffra and wrote the song Give Ireland Back To The Irish doesn't toe a predictable line when it comes to the current crisis.

"It's a very complex issue," he argues. "World War II for my parents was 'Hitler is going to invade England, so let's stop him'.

"But now after 11 September, there's another threat, so it's a very dfficult call."

One made even more difficult for someone whose close relative (whom he refuses to name) is currently serving in the Gulf.

"The bottom line for me is that I have a relative out there. I wouldn't do anything to bring them down. I am not a politician."

Musical incarnations

He is, however, a businessman.

The world's wealthiest musician with an estimated fortune of 713m admits that he carries on working at 60, not just for the thrill of the crowd's appreciation, but also for the cash.

"I go out there to earn money. All of us go to work to earn money and if we earn a lot of money we're pleased. I am the same."

And the singer, whose concert includes songs from all his various musical incarnations, says he has no intention of retiring when this tour come to an end.

"I certainly wouldn't announce it was my farewell tour because of all the people that say that and then, after a year, they say: 'well, it's not quite my last tour - I'm coming out again!' I'm just not like that."


SEE ALSO:
Macca rocks Sheffield
06 Apr 03  |  Entertainment
Sir Paul backs city culture bid
01 Apr 03  |  England
McCartney gig 'could disturb Pope'
31 Mar 03  |  Entertainment
McCartney to play Liverpool gig
26 Mar 03  |  Entertainment
McCartney earns rich list title
06 Mar 03  |  Entertainment


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