What a day. What a gig.
Seriously, I can’t sum up today’s experience but in a short I’ll share as much as I can remember from a whirlwind day.
Yesterday (Wednesday), Paul had been at LIPA speaking with Jarvis Cocker (of Pulp) & his parting gift to the lecture was the announcement he was doing a secret gig in Liverpool on Thursday.
So, there was a Paul McCartney gig happening somewhere in Liverpool & I wasn’t going to miss out this time (1999 Cavern & 2003 Docks).
The alarm clock was set for 6am. I’ve never been woken by an alarm so happy, but today the first thing I did was smile. Quick shower & headed into town in search of the exclusive “secret gig” tickets!
There’s only a few places in Liverpool that can issue such tickets, so an educated guess lead us to The Echo Arena “box office” at 6.45am were we found barriers & security guards… surely a good sign something was happening! After a while, it became pretty obvious that we weren’t the only ones with this idea – as others started to arrive we decided to jump in line & take our chances.
My phone battery dropped from 80% to 20% in the space of an hour as I frantically tried refreshing my feed on Paul McCartneys Twitter & Facebook. It was worth it, eventually the news broke around the world at 9am that Paul McCartney was doing a gig at the Cavern Club at 2pm & that limited tickets would be released at the Echo Arena at 10am. Needless to say, by 9.15am we weren’t alone at The Echo Arena & people had flocked in their hundreds to the docks as they heard the news!
Within half an hour we were ushered in with a “raffle” ticket which we were told we could exchange for a gig ticket. At a time of uncertainty, this was like saying you “might” have won the lottery!
We won the lottery.
By 10.30am we were out the Echo Arena, with ticket in hand & purple wristband – proudly cutting off the blood circulation to our hands. There was no way anyone was taking this off our wrist.
Near midday & it was time to queue for entry at the Cavern Club. Now I’m no stranger to the Cavern Club – in fact I’ve actually played there as many times as The Beatles did – but this was completely different. It was reminiscent of “Beatlemania” that you seen on old films & fans came in their droves as news spread of their gig. The worlds press began to smother Mathew Street. I’ve never seen anything like it. The whole street was buzzing!
Cavern Club. Several flights of stairs & you’re down. There is a lift, but if you are able to take the stairs to the Cavern then you walk. It’s part of the experience! We immediately found ourselves in another queue on reaching the lower level but this time much shorter, within minutes we were in The Cavern “Live Lounge” to be greeted by at least 10 cameras & 50 production staff. This was no ordinary gig!
Tensions raised, with every flicker of the lights the lucky ticket holders believed this was the moment “Macca” would take to the hallowed stage. We weren’t kept waiting too long.
Paul stepped out on to the stage, casually dressed wearing a blue grandad collar shirt (made famous by The Beatles) smiling & clearly relaxed. The first song was a blues jam – presumably while they tested their levels.
First song of the gig was “20 Flight Rock” which Paul proudly announced “this was the song that got me in to The Beatles”. He would follow this with the first of 12 Beatles songs he would perform. Magical Mystery Tour. It was clearly a sign of things to come. For the next 2 hours we were literally taken on a magical tour from the Beatles early days, through Wings & Paul’s solo career right up to his new album. The new album does not disappoint. The latest single “Come One To Me” was one of the best received of the whole gig, as were “Who Cares” & “Fuh You”. Each introduced with a story of how he wrote them – as a songwriter this was massively inspiring.
In all he performed for over 2 hours, his vocal was on form – as was his humour. The gig was full of Paul engaging with the crowd, including a moment of him telling people to put away their phones/cameras as it was putting him off (& you don’t wanna put him off). This was right in the middle of “20 Flight Rock” & at the start of the gig – it set the clear tone that you were here to remember the gig from experience & not by what you capture on your smartphone. Note, I didn’t take the photo above 😂
A personal highlight of the gig was McCartneys inclusion of “In Spite Of All The Danger” which I re-recorded & released earlier this month to coincide with the 60th Anniversary of the original recording session. Never in my wildest imagination did I think I would be watching ‘Macca’ perform that very song in The Cavern Club just 2 weeks later. Paul introduced the song explaining how the recording session came about & by paying tribute to his now departed friends George Harrison & John Lennon who were also in their first band – The Quarrymen. Here’s my version if you would like to have a listen http://smarturl.it/MarcKenny-ISOATD
I’m not going to review the entire gig, it was over 2 hours long & I’m still numb trying to piece together the fact I’ve just seen Paul McCartney live in The Cavern Club. Growing up, it’s a story that’s all too familiar with our parents, aunties, uncles & grandparents etc saying they have a story about The Beatles.
Now I can join the club & say “I’ve seen McCartney at the Cavern” & what a story to tell!