The first years of a new decade and century saw Paul pursuing the diverse pattern that people had come to expect, with new solo albums, a published collection of poetry and a headline performance at Glastonbury Festival among its highlights. One of Paul’s greatest achievements, though he may not have realised it at the time, was the formation of his touring band in 2002. Guitarist Rusty Anderson, drummer Abe Laboriel Jr, keyboards man Paul “Wix” Wickens and guitarist Brian Ray have surpassed both The Beatles’ and Wings’ line-ups in longevity, and still play with Paul to this day.
Liverpool Sound Collage was a response to the artist Peter Blake’s request for a soundtrack to About Collage, his 2000 exhibition at Tate Liverpool. Extending the collage idea beyond its traditional visual form, Paul assembled elements on the streets of Liverpool, where he interviewed astonished shoppers and passers-by. These local recordings range from snatches of chat with students at The Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts, to the sound of the Mersey, to comments from “the lady who gets me my chips when I’m back in the Pool”.
I compiled sounds and made the basic collage. I asked Cian Ciarán of Super Furry Animals to mix something from it, which he kindly did, and my mate Youth used his talents to add a final touch.
In September 2000 Paul published his first art book. Paintings features 117 colour and 17 duotone illustrations by Paul, with the collection spanning almost 20 years of work.
Paul's first collection of poetry Blackbird Singing was published in 2001. The poems in this collection will be familiar to many, as lyrics to some of Paul's best-loved songs: 'Eleanor Rigby', 'Band on the Run', 'She's Leaving Home', 'Penny Lane'. But among the familiar are never-before-seen poems from Paul's pen, published for the first time.
Wingspan - a compilation album featuring tracks from Paul's early solo career and many classics performed as Wings - was launched in tandem with a feature-length documentary film of the same name that told the intimate inside story of Wings for the first time.
Wingspan: An Intimate Portrait was released in May 2001. The film represented a journey through the ten years of marriage, the four children, 11 albums, ten tours and six line-ups that made up Wings.
It's an intimate scrapbook of us during that time, charting the dramatic turns of events that we dealt with, how we started out with Wings by really going back to square one, right back to basics, and how the band grew to become one of the biggest-selling acts of the Seventies.
The inaugural Adopt-A-Minefield Benefit Gala took place at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in LA on 14th June 2001. The aim was to bring awareness to a campaign that Paul felt had been neglected following the tragic death of Princess Diana. As well as performing a number of songs on his own, Paul was joined on stage by Paul Simon, marking the first time the two musicians had ever collaborated. Paul went onto perform annually at this event until 2005.
On 14th December 1999, 300 people squeezed into The Cavern Club in Liverpool to watch Paul perform at the legendary venue for the first time since The Beatles made it famous in 1963. While the live, in-the-moment experience could only be enjoyed by the lucky few, this 2001 DVD not only allowed even more fans to get a taste of what it was like, but also meant this once in a lifetime show was saved for posterity.
Organised by Paul as a way of honouring the memories of the victims of the 9/11 attacks, The Concert for New York City was held at Madison Square Gardens on 20th October 2001 and was closed by Paul who premiered a new song, ‘Freedom’.
'From a Lover to a Friend' featured on Paul's 2001 album Driving Rain. It was released as a single and spent two weeks on the UK Singles Chart.
Driving Rain as an album represents a burst of creativity from Paul, with many of the songs cut in just two weeks. The closing, hidden track, ‘Freedom’, was written as a response to the devastating events of September 11th, a world-changing moment that Paul witnessed from inside a plane on a New York runway.
People say ‘How do you get your creativity?’ and I think the answer is you just have to be open to stuff.
This star-studded concert – held annually to honour the Nobel Prize laureate – saw Paul join the line-up in 2001, closing the show with ‘Let It Be’.
Described simply by Rolling Stone as “All Killer, No Filler”, Paul’s shows on the Driving USA tour – in support of 2001's Driving Rain album – featured two and a half hours of hits and over 35 songs.
When you’ve got back catalogue, people do want to hear some of that. With me, people would probably be a bit disappointed if they didn’t hear ‘Get Back’ or ‘Let It Be’, because they associate me with that so much. I would actually love to do my whole new album, but I’m aware it might not be the favourite show for the people who pay the money. So I take that into account.
Held at Buckingham Palace Garden on 3rd June 2002, Party At The Palace was a concert in celebration of the Queen's Golden Jubilee. Paul performed alongside the likes of Bryan Adams, Tom Jones, Elton John and Will Young at the event, during which he broke into a spontaneous performance of ‘Her Majesty’, a 'secret track' taken from The Beatles' Abbey Road album.
Paul’s Back In The US Tour picked up where his Driving USA Tour had left off, just a few months before, sweeping through 23 more American cities.
From the breakup of the Beatles to the folding of Wings, from a business nightmare to a Tokyo jail, this companion to the Wingspan album and TV/video documentary traced ten years in the life of Paul McCartney.
Paul scarcely paused for breath after his Back In The US Tour, moving straight on down to Mexico for a further three dates.
Two major tours of the US and a short spell in Mexico were immediately followed by these dates in Japan, a visit that saw seeing hordes of fans literally chasing Paul down the street to try and get an autograph.
A double live album, Back In The US features highlights of Paul’s 2002 tour, in support of the previous year’s Driving Rain album. Like the DVD of the same name, it presented highlights from Paul’s first full tour in nearly a decade, from solo classics to Beatles favourites. It also marks the emergence of Paul’s most enduring stage band, including his long term sideman Paul “Wix” Wickens, the guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr.
Released in 2002 to accompany the double-live album of the same name, the Back In The US DVD was a souvenir of Paul's record-breaking American tour. As with the album, the DVD was a huge commercial success, particularly in America and Canada where it went multi-platinum. The DVD also features three bonus tracks, including the title track from 2001's acclaimed Driving Rain album.
A Concert For George was held at the Royal Albert Hall on 29th November 2002 to commemorate the first anniversary of George Harrison's death. For his tribute, Paul performed 'Something' alone on ukulele before the song morphed into a full-band version.
Back In The World is a double live album featuring highlights from Paul’s 2002 tour. It was released internationally in 2003, following the earlier release of Back In The US in North America and Japan only. As before, it was a mixture of solo classics and Beatle favourites.
The Back In The World Tour saw Paul return to Europe in 2003, where he breezed through a setlist of 41 classic tracks to enraptured crowds
In May 2004, Paul embarked on this 14-date European stadium tour which saw him play shows in places he had never been before, including Portugal and the Czech Republic. The tour culminated with Paul's now historic headline performance at Glastonbury Festival.
Paul's 2004 summer tour ended with a headline slot at the iconic Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, UK. Known for its unpredictable weather conditions, the rainy skies cleared just in time for Paul's storming Saturday night set, where he performed to 120,000 plus festival-goers. Paul went on to win 'Best Event' for his Glastonbury performance at the 2005 NME Awards.
My best memory was that moment we walked out on stage, when we performed there in 2004. The sheer size of the crowd, and the banners and the flags that they all hold up which reminded me of the battle of Agincourt! The crowds at Glastonbury have always reminded me of a medieval battle scene - it looks very heraldic, and to see this iconic scene and particular Glastonbury ‘look’ was very exciting.
Released in 2004, this collection of three of Paul's animated short films introduced a new character to rank alongside Rupert and the Frog Chorus: Wirral the Squirrel. Paul himself introduced the short films, all directed by Geoff Dunbar, and the final short, 'Tuesday', featured a closing monologue by Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman.
'Tropic Island Hum' was released in 2004, but originally recorded in 1995. The song featured in Paul's animated film of the same name.
Each One Believing took viewers behind the scenes of a major music tour and into an exhilarating world. Along with hundreds of press, radio and TV interviews, all conducted whilst on the road, the film was edited and woven together with hundreds of never-before-seen photographs by official tour photographer Bill Bernstein.
An annual, non-profit charity concert organised by Neil Young, Paul joined a stellar line-up of acts at the Bridge School Benefit Concert to perform a solo set and also collaborate with the fellow artists on the bill, including Tony Bennett.
On Sunday 6th February Paul and his band rocked their way through an explosive four-song set at the 2005 Super Bowl halftime show, performing the classics 'Drive My Car', 'Get Back', 'Live And Let Die' and 'Hey Jude'. This was Paul’s second Super Bowl appearance, and his performance was broadcast in more than 200 countries worldwide.
Initially released as a double vinyl album, Twin Freaks saw Paul in partnership with the DJ and producer Freelance Hellraiser, alias Roy Kerr. In the summer of 2004, he toured Europe with Paul, opening each show with a 25-minute set of remixed McCartney songs. The album consisted of 12 re-worked and re-invented classics from Paul's back catalogue.
This live DVD showcased footage from two of the most eagerly anticipated live shows of all time. Featuring classic tracks from Paul's huge back catalogue, the DVD was interspersed with clips of interviews in which Paul talks about his and the Soviet Union's past relationship and the ultimate celebration that took place Moscow's Red Square.
The concert on 2nd July 2005 in London’s Hyde Park was one of ten simultaneous events designed to mark 20 years since Live Aid and encourage the G8 group of nations to redouble their efforts to combat world poverty. Paul opened the show by sharing a stage with U2 to perform ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. Twelve hours later Paul returned to the stage to perform a string of hits, before being joined on stage for an all-star ending of 'Hey Jude'.
Paul returned to his 'creative backyard' Abbey Road for an intimate concert, performing before a small group of fans and friends. The show was filmed in July but broadcast on BBC Two in December and PBS the following year, as a promotional event for his new album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.
‘Fine Line’ was released as the first single from Paul’s album Chaos And Creation In The Backyard.
Released to widespread critical acclaim, and earning Paul three Grammy nominations, Chaos And Creation In The Backyard saw Paul hand over production to the R.E.M and Radiohead collaborator Nigel Godrich. Featuring a black-and-white cover image of a young Paul absentmindedly strumming a guitar in his back garden, it's a deeply personal collection of songs enhanced by Godrich's fairly stark production.
The US Tour was Paul's third North American concert tour of the 21st century and was in support of 2005's acclaimed Chaos And Creation In The Backyard album.
Paul's first children's book High In The Clouds detailed the adventures of Wirral the Squirrel. The book was created in collaboration with Geoff Dunbar, who Paul had previously worked with on the film Rupert and the Frog Song in 1984.
Paul's US Tour featured a very memorable and historic moment when he became the first person ever to broadcast live music into space. The international space station crew, 220 miles above Earth, took a special live musical wakeup call on November 12th in a first-ever concert linkup coming from Paul's show in Anaheim. The broadcast included ‘English Tea’, as well as the Beatles classic ‘Good Day Sunshine’.
'Jenny Wren' was issued as the second single from Paul's album Chaos And Creation In The Backyard. Written in Los Angeles, the song is about a character of the same name from Charles Dickens’ novel Our Mutual Friend. The song earned a nomination for the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance category.
Paul performed with Jay-Z and Linkin Park at the 48th Grammy Award show. The legendary rapper and the hip-hop metallers performed a version of their previous collaboration ‘Numb/Encore’ before sliding into ‘Yesterday’ and introducing Paul to the stage. Paul joked, “This is the first time I’ve played the Grammys, I finally passed the audition.”
Paul’s fourth classical album, Ecce Cor Meum (“Behold My Heart”) is an oratorio in four movements, scored for choir and orchestra. The album’s origin lay in a commission from Magdalen College, Oxford: Paul was asked to compose a piece for the opening of a new concert hall at the college.
Something I found out later, being a complete innocent in the field, was that most people find a text and set it to music, which it would have been very convenient to know that, but I didn’t. So I started writing the music and then putting my own text to it, which is probably completely the wrong way around to do it. It didn’t matter. I suppose, you know, in that respect, it meant that it was a bit less conventional.
The World Premiere of Ecce Cor Meum took place at the Royal Albert Hall in London; Paul was present in the audience and then took to the stage to thank and introduce all the performers.
In 2005, Paul crossed America with his record-breaking, 36-date sold-out US tour in support of his Chaos And Creation In The Backyard album. Better than a front-row seat, this feature-length concert film released in 2006 takes viewers onto the stage and beyond, capturing Paul's out-of-this-world live show which included a performance of ‘English Tea’ beamed straight to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
The David Kahne-produced Memory Almost Full was Paul's first album to be released through Starbucks' Hear Music label. It was a personal album from Paul, one that drew on the past.
A lot of it is retrospective, drawing from memory, like memories from being a kid, from Liverpool and from summers gone.
The opening track to Paul's 2007 album Memory Almost Full, 'Dance Tonight' was released on Paul’s 65th birthday and was nominated for 'Best Male Pop Vocal Performance' at the 2008 Grammy Awards.
On June 7th 2007 Paul played an intimate secret show at the Electric Ballroom in Camden to a fevered crowd of a thousand people. With all the tickets disappearing within minutes of being announced, it was the hottest and most talked about show in town and was Paul’s first UK live performance since his legendary Glastonbury headline performance in 2004. Paul then flew to New York and then LA to perform another two surprise shows.
'Nod Your Head' is the closing track to Paul's 2007 album Memory Almost Full. It was released on 7" vinyl for the first time in 2022 as part of The 7" Singles Box.
The iTunes Festival in 2007 saw over 60 acts play in the 350-capacity ICA venue throughout the month of July, with Paul’s show on 5th July being one of the main draws. As with all acts who performed, Paul went on to release an EP on iTunes featuring tracks from his rapturously received headline slot.
Paul returned to Paris's glamorous Olympia venue on 22nd October 2007, following previous shows there with Wings and The Beatles and treated the crowd to a 24-strong set focusing on a heady mix of classics from throughout his career.
As part of the BBC's Electric Proms series held in the iconic Roundhouse venue in London, Paul unveiled his full canon of classics in front of a rapturous audience. As well as the songs played as everyone remembers them, Paul also introduced a string octet on stage for breath-taking renditions of ‘Only Mama Knows’ and ‘Calico Skies’.
'Ever Present Past' was initially recorded during the Chaos And Creation In The Backyard sessions. The song became the first single from Memory Almost Full in the United States and the second single in the UK.
Spanning four decades, The McCartney Years is a three-volume DVD collection of more than 40 music videos and over two hours of live performances. Volumes One and Two contain the definitive collection of McCartney music videos, all the way from ‘Maybe I'm Amazed’ in 1970 to 2005's ‘Fine Line’.
On June 27, 2007, Paul and his band shocked the music world by performing a first ever in-store concert at the famed Los Angeles record shop, Amoeba Records. Four songs from this now legendary 20-song show were recorded and made available on limited edition vinyl entitled Amoeba’s Secret. The low-quality artwork was purposefully done so that it resembled a legitimate bootleg, with the back cover featuring an incomplete word search containing hidden details from the show.
Alongside the film of the London premiere of the work at the Royal Albert Hall, this DVD also included a 50-minute documentary which took a look behind the scenes at one of Paul's most complex and deeply personal endeavours.
This was not the first time Paul received this honour from the Brits: he had previously been a recipient as a member of The Beatles, who won in 1977 and 1983, making this moment in 2008 his first solo win.
Introducing Dr McCartney! Paul officially joined the Ivy League with this honour from the prestigious Yale University in the US, as he was made an honorary doctor of music.
A celebratory show at the legendary home of Liverpool Football Club on 1st Jun 2008, held to mark the city’s year as European Capital of Culture. Supported by the Kaiser Chiefs and The Zutons and with a surprise cameo from Dave Grohl for Paul's set, Liverpool Sound 2008 was a huge success, with Paul paying tribute to both George Harrison and Linda and including an anthemic run through of Lennon's 'Give Peace A Chance'.
At the invitation of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, Paul performed to hundreds of thousands of people in Independence Square, Kiev, Ukraine on 14th June 2008. This groundbreaking event was free to attend and was broadcast live on Ukraine’s Novy TV to millions of people as well as on screens in cities across the country.
43 years after being banned by the Israeli government, Paul played the Friendship First concert in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Thursday 25th September 2008, marking the first time he'd played in the Middle Eastern country.
Electric Arguments was the third studio album from The Fireman and their first to feature vocals. Its 13 varied tracks were recorded in 13 days, over a period of nearly a year. It's also the first Fireman album to be acknowledged by Paul as his work, featuring his and producer Youth's names on the artwork for the first time.
'Sing The Changes' is taken from Electric Arguments, the third album by Paul and Youth's electronic duo The Fireman.
On 4th April 2009, Paul headlined the Change Begins Within benefit concert at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Change Begins Within raised funding and awareness for the David Lynch Foundation to help teach one million at-risk children to meditate, giving them life-long tools to overcome stress and promote peace and success in their lives.
I like the idea of bringing an ancient practice into the modern world. Who would have thought that by introducing meditation into the education system you could lower people’s aggression levels and get a more peaceful society?
Paul joined a stellar line up at the tenth Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in 2009, held at the Empire Polo Club in a dessert setting in Indio, California. The show on 17th April 2009 marked Paul’s first ever US festival appearance.
Two nights after his acclaimed headline slot at the Coachella festival, Paul down-sized to Las Vegas' 4,000 capacity venue The Joint, to help celebrate the opening of the Hard Rock Hotel's newly refurbished venue. In the process, Paul broke records by selling out the venue in just seven seconds.
In June 2009 the McCartney family started a new campaign: Meat Free Monday. The initiative aims to raise awareness of the environmental impact of meat eating and encourage people to meaningfully reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by having at least one meat-free day every week.
The Halifax Common is an urban park situated in Canada's Halifax Regional Municipality, which has recently played host to rock concerts, as well as sporting events. On 11th July 2009, Paul played to over 50,000 fans, following in the footsteps of the likes of the late Princess Diana and Pope John Paul II in attracting huge crowds.
The Summer Live '09 tour was Paul's fourth North American concert tour of the 21st Century. The tour is best remembered perhaps for Paul’s three nights at the new Citi Field in New York City on July 17th, 18th and 21st, due to the special significance of the venue. When The Beatles played Shea Stadium (as it was then) on August 15th, 1965, it was the first rock concert in a major stadium, with a sold-out crowd of 55,600. Over the three nights at Citi Field, 109,397 people watched Paul perform.
Kicking off, appropriately enough, in Hamburg, the seven-city Good Evening Europe tour followed a summer jaunt across America. Incredibly, it had been 49 years since The Beatles’ historic visit to Hamburg, those early shows now ingrained in rock folklore.
Recorded over three nights at New York's gigantic Citi Field stadium in July 2009, this exhaustive film featured a wealth of McCartney classics (33 tracks to be precise), and also came with a double live album. The deluxe edition format included a bonus disc featuring seven songs recorded for the hugely popular Late Show with David Letterman plus the short film Good Evening People.
Good Evening New York City immortalised Paul’s historic three-night musical christening of New York’s Citi Field, by the site of the former Shea Stadium.
Paul and the band appeared on The X Factor final and promptly ripped through 'Drive My Car', with the help of the original 12 finalists, before delivering an explosive performance of 'Live and Let Die' just prior to the announcement of the year's winner.