For Whom The Bell Tells... Issue 15
There are no two ways to say it: I love touring. It's one of the most interesting parts of the job. Sure, the days are long and the schedule can be gruelling but it’s always a total blast to be on the road with Paul. Since my last report, I’ve been particularly fortunate to accompany Paul to South America for a series of concerts I’ll never forget.
The action kicked off in Peru on 9th May with Paul’s first ever show in the city, which was greeted with incredible scenes of Macca mania. Like last year in South America, hundreds of fans once again set up a makeshift village outside the stadium days before the show started to ensure they got the best possible position at the front once the doors opened. Must be a Latin thing! Similar scenes greeted us when we moved on to Chile two days later for Paul’s first performance in the country since 1993. Thrilling fans who had flocked from across Chile for the event, Paul played a rocking set that lasted nearly three hours and had many in tears – particularly when the man himself addressed the crowds in their native Spanish. Fans and media even camped out overnight outside the hotel afterwards hoping for a glimpse of Paul – with one group of fans even storming the lobby in the early hours singing Macca’s hits at the top of their voices! Didn’t get much sleep that night!
Two sell out shows in Rio followed, Paul’s first in the city in 21 years. To say the city was excited was something of an understatement! I travelled with Michelle Lawley who looks after travel, security chief Mark Hamilton, Paul 'Wix' Wickens and the tour videographer Charlie Lightening and within minutes of leaving the airport on the way to the hotel, I'd spied at least five huge Macca billboards! The local PR rep had called me to say fans camped outside the venue were singing Paul’s songs at full volume and the version of ‘Let It Be’ I could hear in the background certainly sounded very impressive!
The show itself was certainly all they hoped for and the coverage in the days that followed was nothing short of spectacular. Paul was on the front of all the major newspapers and, thanks to Google Translator, I discovered the reviews couldn’t have been more positive either. Mind you, even with my terrible Spanish, I could work out headlines such as 'Monumental', 'El Grande Del Rock', 'Beatlemania Remecio Lima', 'Macca El Concierto Mas Esperado Toda Nuestra Historia' and 'Espectaculos' were only ever going to be good.
There was no time for Paul to rest after the shows though. He returned to London to prepare for something very dear to his heart, the exhibition of Linda McCartney’s photographs that was held at the Phillips de Pury Gallery in early June. The exhibition featured 26 images taken from the newly published Taschen book ‘Linda McCartney: Life In Photos’. Made in collaboration with Paul and his children, the book is a moving testament to Linda and her exquisite photography.
As Stella McCartney explained on the evening “I think the whole thing has an underlying sadness to us as a family, because you remember what an amazing woman she was and you really see that through her eyes and through her work. I personally found it quite fulfilling and quite humorous. The humour in the book and the way she saw us, especially in the family life was really refreshing to me.”
Paul added: “We used to say, ‘When are we ever going to look at these?’ - because you don’t. You take all of these family snapshots and they remain in your camera, or in your drawer. So we said that we would choose one day a year and we’ll just get all of the scrap books out, and we did that a bit. But as Stell said, this whole process was great for that. We had all the old photos and finally we got to look at them all.”
Paul and his daughters Stella and Mary visited the exhibition for a private view with friends and family including Sir Peter Blake, Jo Whiley, David Gilmour, Chrissie Hynde, David Walliams, Tracey Emin, Sam Taylor Wood, Aaron Johnson and Jools Holland. Afterwards, the team and Paul’s friends went for a private dinner at The Wellington Arch on Hyde Park Corner to reminisce, laugh together and enjoy the amazing views in a fantastic location. As Paul said to me on the night, it was certainly “a memory location” as it was such a unique and unforgettable place to be. A very fitting end to a special evening…
Of course, Paul was back on a plane returning to the Up and Coming Tour in the blink of an eye afterwards. This time, he found himself in Las Vegas, where he attended the 5th anniversary of Cirque du Soleil’s Love show and played two huge live dates at the famous MGM Grand to bring his record-breaking Up and Coming Tour to a spectacular end. Fans couldn’t believe their eyes as they watched Macca deliver one of his best shows yet watched by none other than Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, George Harrison’s widow Olivia and legendary Beatles producer, George Martin. All stood and joined in as Paul sang ‘Give Peace A Chance’ in a scene that fans present will definitely never forget. Critics were bowled over too, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal declaring “Some thing’s are ageless, and McCartney’s one of them.”
Certainly, there’s no question that Macca has more energy than the rest of us put together. Within days of finishing the Up and Coming Tour in Las Vegas, Paul astounded us all by announcing the first dates on a brand new tour, to be titled ‘On The Run’. The tour kicks off with two nights at Yankee Stadium in New York on the 15th and 16th July and we can’t wait to see what Paul has up his sleeve this time. He’s never failed to surprise us yet…
Fans had one final treat in June too with the long-awaited release of ‘McCartney I’ and ‘McCartney II’. Initially released a decade apart, the albums were Paul’s first two solo releases after The Beatles without Wings or Linda and were re-mastered especially for the reissue. “The nice thing about re-mastering, full stop, is that you can hear more,” Paul says. “It just makes the quality better – it makes you feel like you’re there – it sounds how it sounded when I made the record. It’s a pure, more accurate sound and quality. Whatever the album has got going for it is exaggerated by being able to hear it better. So, it’s got a kind of indie thing – what would be called now, an indie thing – but for me it was just knocking around, making some sound. Not worrying about how it was going to turn out, because with the Beatles it was more like, this is the next Beatles single. With this it was – I wasn’t really doing it with anything in mind and then other people were saying ‘Oh, so that’s your new album is it?’ – I was persuaded.”
The releases were marked by Paul appearing on the cover of MOJO magazine and gaining a mountain of positive reviews, with respected internet music magazine The Quietus calling the albums “two outstanding records of his solo career.” We couldn’t agree more!
Finally, we’ve always known Macca has fans in high places (hello President Obama!) but word reached us this week that another musical legend has been talking of his admiration for Paul. Following his festival-conquering set at Glastonbury, none other than the iconic Paul Simon told one newspaper that he believed Macca was one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Not bad coming from a man who wrote ‘The Sound of Silence’, ‘Mrs Robinson and ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’ to name just a few…
It’s hard to believe that as I write, Paul is busy preparing for the start of his new tour in just a few weeks. Who knows where it will take us in the coming months? If the last year has shown me anything, it’s that I can never second guess what’s around the corner working for the most popular boss on the planet! I’ll do my best to keep you posted as soon as it happens though…