Page last updated at 04:19 GMT, Monday, 2 June 2008 05:19 UK

Magic night for Macca and his mates

By Ian Youngs
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Paul McCartney
The crowd began singing as soon as Beatles' songs began

With white shirt and black braces, his hair starting to stray and brow starting to shine, Sir Paul McCartney stands with acoustic guitar aloft in one hand and the other palm up to the crowd.

Fans must react pretty much the same wherever he plays, whichever city he's in, but tonight looked like he thought it was a bit special.  

He wasn't exactly emotional, but he did look like he was savouring the experience.

After most songs, he took a few moments to take in the reaction, punching the air or raising his arms to soak up the applause.  

"We're just going to take a moment to take this all in," he said at one point, clutching his chin in mock serious mode and looking out at the masses.  

It was a bit special because it was Liverpool, and he was playing to "my mates", as he referred to his home crowd.  

And it seemed a bit special for most of his 36,000 mates, who still appear to hold him dear.  

One of their own

Sir Paul's gig was celebrating the city's 12-month claim to be the European Capital of Culture.  

But the crowd was also celebrating him – a legend, and one of their own.  

His last appearance in Liverpool was five years ago. Now a couple of weeks off his 66th birthday, he looks as fit as ever - but at the rate of one gig every five years, how many more chances will there be to celebrate him at home on the big stage?  

He raced through 45 years in 110 minutes, starting with the Swinging Blue Jeans' Hippy Hippy Shake before moving on to Wings' Jet and the Beatles' Drive My Car from Rubber Soul.  

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Highlights of Sir Paul McCartney's Liverpool Capital of Culture concert

The first half of his set mixed favourites like The Long and Winding Road with assorted career curios – the crowd was polite but not passionate about solo songs Calico Skies and Flaming Pie, and Wings album tracks like C Moon and Let Me Roll It.  

He was no doubt pleased with the warmer reception for Dance Tonight, the lead track from his latest solo album Memory Almost Full.

But the crowd really erupted at the first sign of a Wings hit – Band on the Run or Live and Let Die – and hardly needed a breath to start singing as soon as a Beatles song began.  

After the slightly scenic route through his catalogue, the second half of the show was crammed with crowd-pleasing tracks for which the terms "hit" and "classic" seem inadequate.  

Eleanor Rigby, Penny Lane, Let It Be, Hey Jude and Yesterday can only be described as national anthems.  

As each song struck up, the stadium immediately turned into a communal karaoke, unified in singing and swaying.  

Sir Paul moved between acoustic moments on guitar, piano or even ukulele, and full-on rock mammoth mode, most notably on Live and Let Die, when huge flames shot out of the stage.  

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl helped with the rock quotient on three songs, and looked like he was living out a schoolboy fantasy.  

No Frog Chorus

The only period Sir Paul seems to have disowned is his tuneful vein of early 1980s cheese.  

No room for No More Lonely Nights, no Pipes of Peace and definitely no Frog Chorus. Which is a shame, because as legendary as he is, they were his last big hits.  

And apart from Peter Kay, who introduced the set, Grohl was the only surprise guest. No emotional reunion with Ringo.  

The Kaiser Chiefs have no Liverpool connection, but did a good job in warming the crowd up with an energetic set and a Mexican wave
For a show that was billed as Liverpool Sound, there was an argument for featuring more artists from the city's past and present.  

The first support band, The Zutons, are Scousers, and handily have a song about "a night in the city of culture".  

Unfortunately the "dogs and the vermin mooching the streets" and "sense of threat in the air" from the song's lyrics were probably not the images organisers would have chosen to convey.  

The Kaiser Chiefs, second on the bill, have no Liverpool connection, but did a good job in warming the crowd up with an energetic set and a Mexican wave.

But Sir Paul alone was more than enough for most fans, and was welcomed home with open arms.


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