For Whom The Bell Tells...Issue 8
Thursday 18th March - Reporting live from Londons O2 Arena
Today finds Paul, the band and the team in North Greenwich at
a little, under-the-radar location for rehearsals, also known as the
O2 Arena. Just months after an electrifying Christmas show that
brought 2009 and the 'Good Evening Europe' tour to a close, Paul has
returned to the scene. Its a slightly different sight that will greet
Bat Man today though; the seats are empty, the arena is cold, no beer
is being served (shame!) and there's not a sellout crowd of 20,000
people screaming their hearts out to some of the worlds most loved tunes.
There is however an arena full of 31 trucks worth of touring
equipment, massive video screens, fancy computers, but most
importantly, a stage setup with instruments on display, just waiting
to be brought to life. Where does the world's biggest rock star
rehearse ahead of a monster tour? At a place that's fitting for him -
the world's most famous music arena, The O2.
This isn't a normal rehearsal, as this is not a normal tour.
Today is the production rehearsal, which means the entire crew get to
rehearse their jobs ahead of the opening. The riggers practice putting
up the lights and getting the stage up and taking it all down again.
The lighting team practice fancy new displays and the sound guys get
to play about with some new ideas. Each part of the show needs to be
nailed before hitting the road. The final but integral piece of the
puzzle goes without saying: Paul. Production rehearsals give Paul the
chance to get a feel for how the entire thing will look. Although,
this got me thinking there is one experience Paul will never actually
get to enjoy and that's watching the experience that is the Paul
McCartney live show.
So, its all go down here at the Dome! Paul is weeks out now
from the opening night of his new 'Up and Coming Tour'. Final
arrangements are being prepared and the entire band and all the crew
are assembled together for the first time since the 22nd December,
2009. Spirits are high.
At almost exactly 13:00 the Batmobile arrives and Paul steps
out. With little time to spare he heads straight to the stage stopping
for quick hellos, hugs and handshakes on the way. When Paul takes to
the stage with the band the empty arena comes to life and you can
begin to imagine what the new show is going to look like. Paul and the
band jam and road test a few new ideas, having to relearn some of his
classic tracks at the same time. We wont give anything away but
amongst the team there is a feeling of a genuine excitement and total
desire to get going with the tour and let the world share in our excitement.
Right now Paul should be focusing in on the shows but as ever
there are a million (slight exaggeration) other questions being asked
of him. Paul is very patient with us all and deals with our endless
questions distracting him from the job in-hand. In the PR department
we are always trying to schedule in interviews and promo shoots for
the various projects Paul is working on. Today we interrupt Paul
again, this time for a special cover feature that UK leading music
magazine, Q Magazine, are putting together on Paul which will hit the
shelves in the coming months. More news to follow on that soon. This
is no ordinary assignment for the magazine and as such they have sent
down their top man, editor-in chief, Paul Rees. Our Paul graciously
takes time from todays rehearsals to have a chat with Q. Earlier in
the day Paul visited David Baileys studio for the cover shoot, which
Paul tells us went very well whilst giving us a spot on impression of
one the worlds most famous photographers. At the end of the interview
we talk about the fact that every time Paul announces a tour someone
in the world writes, This is Paul McCartneys Final Ever Tour. He tells
us that he always receives a flurry of texts from his friends saying
they will have to come and see his show as they dont want to miss the
last one! Paul jokes that it is probably a promoter trying to sell
tickets. For the record, we can confirm this is not Pauls final tour.
I made a note to myself that next time Paul announces a tour he should
call it This Is Not The Final Paul McCartney Tour, although I expect
some hack looking for a story somewhere would still manage to
interpret that as Paul announcing his last ever tour! After the
interview Paul returns to the band to get on with his proper job.
As we leave Paul rocking out on stage something caught my eye
above Pauls head. Hanging over him were two massive fancy looking
balls. They looked very cool but I wasnt quite sure what they were. So
I headed to the lighting directors setup. He explained that they are
called Puffer Spheres. The spheres have images (custom designed by
Paul) projected onto them and the results looks surreally awesome.
They are hard to describe properly but the audience is in for a treat.
With delight I can confirm that the Up and Coming Tour boasts the
coolest balls in rock n roll!
Meanwhile, the backstage offices are a hive of activity. The
Paul-related requests from around the world are coming in thick and
fast. On a weekly basis we are literally receiving hundreds of
requests, but when touring comes around the requests almost double!
All around the world dignitaries are asking for meet and greets,
celebrities want tickets, fellow rock stars want to say hi, media want
passes and the list goes on.
Towards the end of the rehearsal session I return to the main
arena to watch what Paul and co are up to. The lights are down and the
guys are all looking very serious, reviewing some of the screens. At
one moment there is a long pause whilst they are waiting for a new
image to appear on the screen and in complete stillness and darkness a
famous voice can be heard over the PA system. Police are looking for a
man who has stabbed six people in the eye using a knitting needle They
think hes following a pattern. The crew erupts silence broken. Its
going to be a fun tour!
The next few months are going to be mega. Another manic
whirlwind of activity. The team are all set and cant wait for it.
Keep tuned to PaulMcCartney.com in the coming days to see some
exclusive rehearsal images and videos.
Photography by MJ Kim