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Wednesday, 15 December, 1999, 14:09 GMT
Sir Paul rolls back the years

wide shot of the Cavern Sir Paul live at The Cavern for the first time in 36 years

The BBC's Spencer Leigh was one of the lucky 300 at Sir Paul McCartney's exclusive, one-off concert at the Cavern. He describes the electric atmosphere.

"I'm a little mixed-up but I'm feeling fine," sang Sir Paul McCartney in his homage to Elvis Presley, All Shook Up.

I too am a little mixed-up but I'm feeling great as I have seen Sir Paul play what has been dubbed "the gig of the century" - that is, his return to the Cavern.

close up of Sir Paul Sir Paul mostly performed songs from his album
I could be cynical and say that Sir Paul did this gig to promote his album of obscure rock'n'roll covers, Run Devil Run, but if he did, good luck to him.

It was a tremendous night and he and Sir Cliff Richard can teach those young Turks a thing or two about marketing and promotion.

For years, Sir Paul has been lamenting the loss of the Cavern and now he accepts that the new building at the same address is the Cavern and that this was his 281st gig at the venue.

In that sense, it was a pity that he chose to play in the larger back room rather than in the arched area which so closely resembles the original.

The stage was too small for the band's hi-tech equipment and the modern lighting effects.

Sir Paul on video screen Thousands more fans watched Sir Paul on a video screen
Not to worry as Sir Paul was in brilliant form playing 12 songs in 40 minutes, mostly from Run Devil Run.

Someone shouted for Satisfaction, but he said he didn't do requests and impersonated Mick Jagger's lips.

In a lovely nostalgic moment, he thanked the Cavern's original DJ, Bob Wooler, who was in the audience.

In any other circumstance, it would be a major boost for Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour to be playing Liverpool.

Here he was one of the twin electric lead guitarists with Mick Green from the Pirates.

I am sure that Mick Green's contribution to Sir Paul's CD has been understated as so much of the CD sounds like the Pirates reviving old rock'n'roll songs and indeed, Sir Paul has plundered their powerhouse arrangement of Honey Hush.

Sir Paul limited himself to short, pertinent introductions. He said that "Lonesome Town" was "for lovers, past, present and future", - make what you will of that.

He told us that John Lennon was impressed that he knew the words of Twenty Flight Rock, then he stuck to Chuck Berry's original lyric for Brown Eyed Handsome Man - repeating Chuck's reference to the "Milo de Venus" (sic).

He contorted his face like Gene Vincent when he sang Bluejean Bop, or maybe that's the only way to sing the song.

B/W The Beatles I Saw Her Standing There was the one Beatles favourite
Sir Paul's current single revives the skiffle song, No Other Baby. I thought that this song was inconsequential but it sounded so much better live and it was good to hear him slow down the tempo and the volume for one number.

Sir Paul reeled off a couple of new songs - What It Is and Try Not To Cry, but the biggest applause was for I Saw Her Standing There... quintessential Beatles, quintessential Paul McCartney and total magic.

Although the large man in front of me did his best to obscure my view by waving his hands, this was the best moment I have ever seen on stage anywhere.

No doubt about it, Sir Paul got back to where he once belonged.

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See also:
14 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Return of Beatlemania
10 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Sir Paul's Cavern gig winners
09 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Beatles crowned the greatest
02 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Beatle gets back to his roots

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