For Whom The Bell Tells: 'GOT BACK' Mexico and Brazil Tour 2023

Black and white photograph of Paul McCartney raising his hand in the air while on stage in front of a sold-out crowd at Mané Garrincha Stadium in Brasília.

In the latest instalment of his tour blog, Paul's UK publicist Stuart Bell reflects on the end of the 2023 GOT BACK tour in Mexico and Brazil...

I’ve written before about the sheer admiration I have for Paul’s stamina, and what a challenge it is to keep up with him, but it’s unceasingly staggering to watch him consistently step up to the plate on a schedule that would render lesser mortals exhausted.

I had just one week to recover from the Australian leg of Paul’s Got Back Tour - a jaunt that, for me, included long but fun days juggling my touring responsibilities for both Paul (the list of asks for him is literally never ending), and of course there was the amazing project for The Beatles' 'Now and Then' too.

In that November week, as London’s temperature plummeted, Christmas decorations began to appear in some places and 'Wonderful Christmastime' soared up the streaming charts, it felt a little odd to think about packing a suitcase full of clothes appropriate for sunny climes, but such was the touring team’s predicament as I prepared for the tour to pick up again in Mexico. Everyone around us was excitedly talking about Christmas parties and wrapping up work for the holidays, and here was Team Macca stocking up on Factor 50 about to embark on yet another action-packed adventure with multiple parties with Paul. No rest for the wicked, indeed!


Numero Uno!

It was the best possible start to our time in Mexico: touching down in Mexico City to the news that 'Now and Then' was Number One. A record-breaking feat (marking the longest ever gap between chart-topping singles by one act), it was for everyone a poignant and fitting finale to The Beatles’ recording career. 

I’d been at home as the buzz around the single took hold around the world, listening as radio DJs still marvelled at its existence, and watching as Tik-Tokers really took to the 'Now and Then' theme. It was so exciting to see the song being embraced, loved, and celebrated. We’d all had high hopes, but this news was unbelievable. 

As a new global wave of Beatlemania spread, Mexico fully entered into the spirit of things. The country was already eagerly anticipating Paul’s return, having not played a show there since 2017, but the joy and gratitude surrounding The Beatles’ swan song had raised excitement levels to fever pitch. It was clear to see, amid the billowing banners, blankets of posters, non-stop TV coverage, and with #paulmccartney trending here on socials, that Maccamania was in full effect. His visit was a national occasion.

“McCartney makes explosive comeback.” - El Universal, November 2023

A giant replica of the 'Now and Then' cassette was making its way around Mexico City while we were there, becoming a social media star in its own right as fans attempted to track it down for photo opportunities. Elsewhere, red and blue buses - representing the two new remixed editions of The Beatles’ 1962-1966/1967-1970 compilations - were also spotted on the move. Perhaps they were on a Mexican Mystery Tour?

A bus with 'Now and Then' advertisement on it in Mexico, photo taken by Stuart Bell
⁠Stuck in traffic in Mexico behind this!

But it was the Mexican fans themselves who truly personified the hysteria and adoration that Paul commands wherever he goes. The energy and passion of his devoted following is palpable, and always makes for a special experience. Here in Mexico City, they lined the streets outside our hotel, screaming his name, singing his songs, and being an ever-present source of encouragement and positivity. Despite Paul receiving this reaction many times over many years in many places, I can assure you that it’s not taken for granted for a single second. We were all overawed. 

“McCartney continues to write history as a genius of the 20th and 21st centuries.” - Reforma, November 2023

Sixty-thousand fans packed each of Paul’s two nights at Foro Sol. Every single one of them cheered when Paul spoke Spanish to them, saying hello and acknowledging the language barrier. It was a conscious effort on Paul’s part to ensure he could connect so directly with his audience - what they wouldn’t have known was that before the show, Paul had spent an hour taking a language lesson to get the words right, which meant he’d had to cut back on his daily dose of Family Feud!

The sacrifice was of course worth it: the crowd’s reaction to Paul’s linguistic skills was mighty and euphoric. Not many artists make the effort to communicate so personally with their audiences, but for Paul it is a natural instinct.

“He is capable of making everyone sing,” Reforma reported after the first night, in which Paul kept the Mexicans accompanying him vocally through a string of solo, Wings and Beatles hits - the Quarrymen tune 'In Spite Of All The Danger' , which was the first song recorded by what would become The Beatles, sounded so much more meaningful now, serving as an emotional contrast to the last song they recorded, which was so prevalent at this time.

“It was a show of nostalgia, overflowing energy and a sign that classics never go out of style.” - La Razon, November 2023

Something that I love to see while on tour with Paul is the new generations of fans coming to his shows. It’s not just young people coming to see Paul, it’s young people coming to see Paul with their parents, or even their grandparents, and having such a great time. The music connects them - it connects everybody - despite each song having a different meaning or significance to everyone. I also love those who make an effort when they come to a Paul McCartney concert. The Mexicans didn’t let me down - it was great to see a bunch of them dressed in the full Sgt Pepper uniforms, and turning the event into a real party.

Talking of parties, after the first show in Mexico - as if we were not on a maximum high already - Paul hosted a birthday party for his wife, Nancy, back at the hotel. Lots of their friends and family had flown in for the special occasion. The drinks were flowing and there was lots of dancing, laughing and smiling. A very late but enjoyable evening was had. Paul even made a lovely speech to Nancy - it was a very romantic moment, but to share anything else wouldn’t be fair!

Ahead of the second show and just an hour before greeting his 60,000 friends for round two, Paul took 20 minutes to conduct a Zoom interview for 'Conversa Com Bial (Talk With Bial)', a late-night national chat show with presenter Pedro Bial, to talk about his forthcoming biggest Brazilian tour to date. Paul was quick to celebrate the music and people of Brazil, and it was cool to hear about Lizzie Bravo, the Brazilian fan who in 1968 was invited into Abbey Road Studios to sing with The Beatles on 'Across The Universe'. 

There was also a new face present backstage in Mexico - well, almost a face…! Paul’s label in Mexico, Universal Music Mexico, awarded him a magnificent handmade painted skull in recognition of landmark solo sales achievements in the country (achievements including Band on the Run going platinum, 'Maybe I’m Amazed' going gold, and 'Say, Say, Say' going 4 times platinum and gold). A stunning work of art, it was decorated with amazing vivid colours, with piercing yellow eyes and a broad grin full of shiny white teeth. Paul was very proud of the trophy, and displayed it in his dressing room for all to see. I’ll need to ask him if he’s named it yet!

⁠Handmade painted Mexican skull, photo taken by Stuart Bell
⁠Handmade painted Mexican skull - awarded to Paul for record sales 

“There is something to thank Paul McCartney for this show at Foro Sol: remaining that tireless idol, that legend who loves music and who has marked - as cliché as it may sound - so many generations over time.” - Sopitas, November 2023

I’m often asked what my favourite Paul show is. Well, I don’t have an answer for that, because it’s like being asked what your favourite song is. Sure, there are some standout moments, but generally each show is a different occasion. However, a very powerful memory that I have is of Zócalo Square, Mexico City, in 2012. It was epic.

I remember the sound of the audience. I remember the floor vibrating. I wondered how you could ever top this for a Mexican live experience. But, as I sat watching and singing along with 60,000 people on the 16th November, I had an equally brilliant experience. A different memory, but still incredible. We often joke in the crew that we get once-in-a-lifetime-memories at least once a week working with Paul, but when I think about it, it’s actually not really a joke. It’s the truth!

“Few things in the world are eternal, Sir Paul McCartney is one of them.” - Excelsior, November 2023

Collage of mexican press cuttings taken by Stuart Bell
⁠Mexican press cuttings!


Catching up on work in the brief window of opportunity between legs of the tour, back in London I was able to collect some more bits of good news before the year was out. McCartney: A Life In Lyrics, the podcast accompaniment to Paul’s book The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present in which he is interviewed by poet Paul Muldoon, had been a great success, as the first season closed with over 2.5 million downloads.

The series, which saw each episode exploring and discussing individual songs written by Paul (including 'Eleanor Rigby', 'Let It Be', 'Here Today', and 'Too Many People') was a critical hit - TIME listed it in their Top 10 podcasts of 2023 - and, more crucially, a hit with the fans too - with comments such as “What an incredible insight into the creative brilliant mind of Paul,” and “Best podcast ever!”

Then there was the news that the paperback version of the book itself had spent an unbelievable six consecutive weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List. If there was ever any doubt, Paul was certainly now officially a 'Paperback Writer'!

Anyway, with only just enough respite back home to get the Christmas tree up and decorated before the holidays, it was soon time to hit the road for the final shows of the year. And again, what a paradoxical prospect that was: escaping the frost-bitten streets of London for Brazil, where they’d just endured the hottest temperatures ever amid a deadly heatwave.


“Historical and unexpected!” - Jornal De Brasilia/Agencia Brasil, November 2023

What happens in Brasilia, they say, stays in Brasilia. That is, of course, unless you are Paul McCartney performing your smallest ever gig in the southern hemisphere.

As if the Got Back tour coming to Brazil wasn’t enough in itself, Paul had made a spontaneous decision to mark his arrival with an intimate club show in the country’s capital at the music venue, Clube do Choro. And so it was here that this last part of the tour started in the most exciting and explosive way possible.

In a setting very similar to Star Wars’ iconic Mos Eisley Cantina bar, around 300 lucky people packed into Clube do Choro’s sweaty walls, having picked up tickets only that morning, when the show was announced. It was all a complete contrast to Paul’s debut show in Brazil back in 1990, when an estimated 184,000+ people helped Paul set a world attendance record in Rio’s mega Maracanā Stadium. (Well, that’s how many tickets were sold - legend has it that many more spectators had unofficially sneaked in!)

“It was very emotional.” - Correio Braziliense, November 2023

Clube do Choro’s audience was approximately 0.16% of that day 33 years ago, and from my viewpoint it seemed that many present in the club were unlikely even born then! Mobile phones were prohibited for the performance, and so everyone there was being present in the moment, celebrating their luck at witnessing this unbelievable two-hour, 24-song set in such close quarters, which the Brazilians were quick to compare to Liverpool’s Cavern Club. 

A photo of an empty Clube Do Choro taken by Stuart Bell
⁠Empty Clube Do Choro hours before Paul’s smallest ever show in the southern hemisphere.

Those inside the club were treated to Paul speaking Portuguese between songs. Meanwhile, those outside, who were not fortunate enough to get in to see his first Brazilian gig in five years, were still able to enjoy the show, as Paul’s songs blasted out beyond the walls to those dancing on the surrounding lawn and, apparently, even further: “Sir Paul McCartney proudly shows off Scouse roots on world tour,” the Liverpool Echo reported the next day (referring to his choice of T-shirt that night, which said ‘Liverpool’), from almost 6,000 miles away! 

“The format of this show is further proof that Paul is, in fact, a spectacular person.” - Agencia Brasil, November 2023

There was a better chance for many more to experience the majesty of Paul live two days later, when he performed at the Arena BRB Mané Garrincha stadium, taking to the stage like “an honorary citizen of the capital,” noted Correio Braziliense, still reeling from his historic club show.

One especially lucky attendee was Fabiana Nonato, 40, from Sao Paulo, who had won the chance to meet Paul at the Brasilia show after entering a competition last summer. A huge fan of Paul’s, her dream to see him in person had come true at a particularly poignant time; having suffered a miscarriage earlier this year, Fabiana was especially deserving of some happiness.

“It was such a special moment for me after such a difficult time,” she said afterwards. “It gave me some hope and joy when I needed it the most, and meeting Paul today has been the greatest day of my life. He was so nice and down to earth, and took time to chat with us and ask questions too. I just can’t believe it.”

“Living legend Paul McCartney drives fans into delirium at the Mané Garrincha.” - Correio Braziliense, November 2023

It was an awesome show, and one that some feared might not have gone ahead, as torrential rain soaked Brasilia all afternoon. Fortunately, though, it did little to dampen anyone’s spirits - including those who’d travelled from all over the country and were queuing up outside - and the show was a triumph.

“It was an atmosphere of musical celebration, established with a sequence of hits that began with 'Can’t Buy Me Love' and lasting for approximately three hours.” - O Tempo, November 2023


Sign in ⁠Belo Horizonte saying "Welcome back to ⁠Belo Horizonte Paul!"
⁠Belo Horizonte give Paul a huge welcome!

Paul has had his fair share of brushes with international royalty on his travels, and his visit to Belo Horizonte in South East Brazil proved no different. Visiting backstage at the Arena MRV on the day of Paul’s first show there on December 3rd was legendary Brazilian singer-songwriter Milton Nascimento. This was Milton’s first sighting since announcing his retirement. Milton took to social media to express his sheer joy at being able to go to Paul’s show.

We got to see the pair hook up and enjoy a chat together. They also swapped gifts - Milton gave Paul a signed copy of his 1970 album, Milton (funny that they both released self-titled albums that year!), which included the hit song 'Para Lennon E McCartney' ('For Lennon And McCartney'), and in return he received one of Paul’s tour T-shirts. Brazilian media called it a “significant cultural exchange between two iconic artists.” It was certainly very cool. Milton enjoyed Paul’s show so much that he returned the following night, and then to the Rio show 12 days later!

The only person more excited than Milton that day was Mike, one of Paul’s security team, who is a huge fan of Milton’s. 

“Paul McCartney thrills packed Arena MRV at the first of two shows in BH!” - Estado De Minas, December 2023

That first night had a couple of memorable moments, but not necessarily for the right reasons! The show had started almost an hour late, but thankfully it wasn’t Paul to blame. The stadium, which only opened back in April, was for the first time full to capacity - 42,000 people - and the bottleneck access understandably took some getting used to, and so moved slowly as a sea of people began to fill every spare space.

Then, halfway through the set, Paul had to call a halt to 'Love Me Do', as he noticed someone at the front of the audience was in need of medical assistance. Paul alerted security and assistance was quickly given, and the very appreciative crowd roared their approval when The Beatles’ debut single was resumed.

“This was the biggest and most memorable performance ever received at the young Arena MRV. And there's a good chance it will continue to be that way for a long time.” - O Tempo, December 2023


“Paul McCartney brings the perfect show to Sao Paulo” - O Estado de Sao Paulo, December 2023

Our long weekend in the vast and incredible city of Sāo Paulo was quite a bittersweet one for Paul. On the one hand, we were in this unbelievable place - a bustling metropolis filled with the most amazing people and passionate fans - with three nights of performing to a total of around 165,000 people at the Allianz Parque to look forward to, but on the other hand, there was some sad news and memories that had to be addressed.

We were on our way to Sāo Paulo when Paul heard that Denny Laine, the co-founder of Wings and Paul’s friend, had died. They made such brilliant music together, their songs classic and timeless, and Paul was devastated to learn of his passing. “Denny was a great talent with a fine sense of humour and was always ready to help other people,” Paul wrote in a tribute statement. “It was a pleasure to know you. We are all going to miss you.” 

Paul dedicated a storming version of Jet to Denny, who of course had played and sang on the 1973 original.

“Seeing McCartney on stage is understanding how music crosses generations and age and aesthetic barriers.” - Flora de Sao Paulo, December 2023

Another old friend was on Paul’s mind that weekend. December 8th marked 43 years since John Lennon’s tragic death, and as the anniversary rolled around again, it was inevitable that thoughts of John would prove even more emotional to Paul.

John’s presence is regularly felt in Paul’s shows now - especially with the addition of 'I’ve Got A Feeling' into the set, on which Paul effectively duets with John, thanks to Peter Jackson’s audio technology which extracted John’s voice from the Get Back documentary footage. And Paul has of course been speaking about John a lot lately, too, with all the 'Now And Then' activity. But it was the song 'Here Today' that in particular really moved everyone at the Sāo Paulo shows.

Paul often wells up when talking about John in the song’s introduction on stage, but remembering his friend on this timely occasion and in this overwhelming location was profoundly affecting for everyone.

“If 2023 was the year of international shows in Brazil, there is no one better to close this season than Paul McCartney.” - Omelete, December 2023


Billboard in Curitiba saying "Welcome back to Curitiba Paul!"
Signing in to Curitiba!

⁠Phew! The worst of Brazil’s heatwave may have passed, but it was still pretty hard work getting used to working in the temperatures there - a crazy concept to deal with for a Brit in December! We faced the hottest day of the tour yet when we got to Curitiba in South Brazil, but come rain, shine, or a swarm of grasshoppers (as happened to Paul in Brazil a decade previously), it never seems to affect Paul or his performance.

“The experience of a Paul McCartney live show is much more than any music lover could want from a rock show” - Bem Paraná, December 2023

It was only the third time he’s played in the city, so the Curitiba crowd - which was more than 43,000 people - was particularly pleased to have Paul back there, giving him a suitably warm welcome as he took to the stage of the Estádio Couto Pereira.

It was fantastic to see the levels of passion and devotion coming from the Brazilian crowds all through this tour, but we were all amused to learn that day of an online campaign bubbling up ahead of Paul’s imminent shows in Rio de Janeiro, which saw fans appealing for Paul’s likeness to be projected upon the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, which overlooks the former capital city from the peak of the Corcovado mountain, to honour his arrival there.

“He is the greatest music artist alive, the tribute is more than deserved,” argued one fan, as the hashtag #McCartneyNoCristo gathered momentum. We would have to wait and see whether the authorities were listening…


This wasn’t a normal day, so it didn’t start in the normal way! Opening my hotel window in the morning as I woke, I saw a plane flying down Rio’s Copacabana Beach pulling a massive sign that read: ’Welcome Back To Rio Paul’. What a way to make our man feel welcome!

“Paul McCartney is part of a generation that changed the world in the 1960s. Now, almost six decades later, he continues to transform the view of what a man his age is capable of doing.” - O Estado de Sao Paulo, December 2023

Although Paul has played Rio numerous times since, it was actually way back in 1990 that he last performed at the Maracaña Stadium - to the biggest crowds ever!

As I mentioned earlier, the shows there smashed box office records for a concert. I can remember reading about it in the Guinness Book of Records when I was a kid and having my mind blown by it, so as you can imagine it felt awesome to be there with Paul as he returned to the scene of his past glories.

But there are more recent glories to think about too. Ahead of going on stage, Paul was presented with a special award for selling over two million concert tickets in Brazil - making him the most successful international live artist in Brazil.

Poster congratulating Paul on selling over 2 million tickets in Brazil
Congratulations on selling over 2 million tickets in Brazil!

That day was HOT! I mean… it was so hot that when the pyro went off in 'Live And Let Die' during the show, it felt like air conditioning! But Paul took it in his stride on such a magical evening, in a show packed full of so many special moments. The fans got themselves super coordinated and surprised Paul during 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da' with multicoloured balloons, and used their phones to illuminate them. It was an incredible sight and, as Paul himself said from the stage, it looked “very Disney.” 'Hey Jude' saw the audience raise ‘Na Na’ signs, which created an amazing scene and atmosphere within the Maracaña.

Photo of fans holding signs saying "Na Na!" in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Na Na!

“It is the living presence of one of the great singers and composers of popular music of the 20th Century, doing in 2023 something that seems to have remained there in that century: a great show with great songs, played live, in symbiosis with the public.” - O Globo, December 2023

More than 66,000 people danced the night away with us this time around, but the audience actually reached the millions, as the concert was broadcast live to Brazilians on Disney+. 

There was definitely a carnival atmosphere at the show, as Paul gave it his all on the final night of the tour, and the typically wild Rio crowd voiced their appreciation, shouting a fab chorus of “We love you” that saw Paul reply, “I love you too!”

For me that will go down as one of the loudest crowds I’ve ever seen at any concert ever - with special mention going to Paul’s daughters Mary and Stella, who got just as involved as all the fans in attendance.

When the set reached the last song, it was not only highly emotional for the audience but for the crew too. We’ve been having such an adventure since Got Back got back in Australia, and like the audience, we didn’t want to go home either. We’ve all had a total blast with our second family. We might be thousands of miles from home, but Paul has created such a great family environment that it feels like a home away from home for us. Backstage, the team were frantically dismantling dressing rooms and offices whilst embracing each other and saying their goodbyes for now.

There is a long-standing tour tradition that marks the end of each concert. Once the band and Paul finally leave the stage, they make their way to the tour bus, where Team Macca give the guys a special congratulations and Paul high-fives all the team members as he walks.   

When the Hot City Horns joined the tour in 2018, it gave this tradition another aspect all together as Paul, Kenji and Mike play a celebratory tune to accompany the run of high-fives. The tunes are bespoke to the touring destinations, with some favourites thrown in along the way like The A-Team theme, or 'Eye Of The Tiger'.  

That night, bringing 2023 and Rio’s carnival vibe to a close, the boys played 'Copacabana' to accompany Paul on to the bus. We all clapped and cheered - total euphoria! The hottest show in the world in the hottest city in the world. What a day and what a few months we’ve had.

We couldn’t have asked for a better climax to an unforgettable tour. The memories of those shows will no doubt stick with anyone who was there for a long time - they certainly kept me glowing as I returned back to a frosty London, rolling immediately into Christmas feeling like I’d already received the greatest gift anyone could ask for: being lucky enough to enjoy the remarkable shared experience of love and music with thousands of new friends in the most extraordinary places. 

What can 2024 bring to beat it?