I wasn’t even born when the Beatles did their one and only tour of Australia. And they broke up the year after I was born. So I never got to see the Fab Four.
I missed Paul’s first Australian tour with the Wings – I was only six.
I never got to see John or George. I’ve seen Ringo a handful of times.
However, I saw Paul 124 times. Yes, triple digits, really!!
My friends and family laugh at my obsession with Paul. And don’t tell my mother how much I spent following him around the world. Although, even I couldn’t tell you.
But whatever it is, it’s worth every penny.
It all started around 1979. I had learned a few Beatles songs in class when I was younger. You know, those ABC books, “Let’s All Sing” or something that all the kids sang in class. The very stuff that John Lennon accused Paul of doing, “Granny music”; classics such as ‘Yellow Submarine’ and ‘Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da’, etc.
I was 10 and really getting into music. For my sister’s birthday, she received a present from our grandparents. It was a tape of ‘Back To The Egg’ by Wings. I didn’t know much about it, but I liked the cover. I listened to it and fell in love with it. This tape became mine (sorry, Linda.) I still have it.
I first saw Paul in 1989. I had moved to London the year before and was talking about timing. After a decade without touring, naturally due to John’s shocking murder, Paul was ready to hit the road again.
I had already been extremely lucky to meet him several times by this point, spending most of my free time in Soho Square and Air Studios, where he had recorded (Flowers in The Dirt), and he was always charming and friendly. with me.
As a member of his fan club, I was invited to several warm-up shows.
I think the first was in late July 1989, at the Playhouse Theater (owned by criminal and convicted author, Jeffrey Archer) near the banks of the River Thames. It was for around 200 fans only. I took my position just ahead. The stage was maybe three feet high and there were no security barriers. The good old days.
It was totally awesome.
The second time I saw him was the next evening, because he did two rehearsals. I was again almost in the same place.
I had been bitten by the Paul bug!
Do you know the song “I’ve Been Everywhere”? Well, I could make my own Macca version. I’ve been everywhere to see it, man – I’ve seen it in Melbourne, Miami, Manchester, Moscow/Sydney, San Francisco, Stockholm, Sheffield… and that’s just the opening verse!
Why do I love Paul so much? I don’t know why I should even have to explain it. The guy is amazing. Without doubt the best musician, songwriter and performer of my life. Not only an amazing bassist, he’s also a gifted guitarist and pianist, and not a bad drummer. He also plays several other instruments more proficiently.
And of course that voice! From tender ballads to that raw rumble, it’s gorgeous.
It never hurts to be this ridiculously handsome either. Although, in addition to being a magnificent rockstar, he is also an exemplary human being. A beautiful model and a loving and caring dad. Not to mention a vegetarian, who was committed to saving animals and planet Earth long before it was considered cool.
So many shows have been special; Red Square in Moscow. For this one, I had traveled with friends, without tickets. I don’t think there was a way to buy them outside of Russia, but I had a feeling it would be fine. And he did. About an hour after we paid about $80 each for standing tickets to the back section, one of Paul’s members spotted me with my begging sign (slightly) and asked if we’d rather “those ” tickets. “These” tickets being for the mosh pit. Right in front of the stage! It was a pleasure to see thousands and thousands of people singing along to each song, knowing that most of the audience spoke very little English.
Putin was present that evening. In fact, he arrived late, forcing Paul and his band to play ‘Back In The USSR’ for the second time that night.
Watching him play in Melbourne is always special to me. Being my hometown and all.
In Paul’s fandom, we like to hold up signs for him to read. It became part of the show. He timed several of mine, and even read a few, which is always a huge buzz. I made friends all over the world thanks to Paul. We are bound by Macca. I’ve known some of them since my late teens (and I’m in my 50s now!)
Paul turns 80 on June 18. And he’s still awesome. When he announced a US tour earlier this year I had to be there, so after many calls with my dear friend Tessa (we were in New York on 9/11 to see Paul at a reception. But that’s another story), we decided to go to the first shows. Tessa is a Seattle resident, so it was lucky that the opening night of the Got Back tour was in Spokane, just a five-hour drive away (or six, if you manage to throw your phone out the window , descending at 70 mph some Highway…).
Seeing him again, especially after more than two years of the pandemic, was indeed a tonic.
That’s the thing about Paul McCartney: he brings unbridled joy. To so many people. To billions. Literally.
His shows are like religious experiences. There are people from all demographics, from all cultures.
Paul looked awesome, sounded great, the band was awesome, everything was just…awesome. I saw the first six shows of this tour, from front row (Oakland) to nosebleeds (Los Angeles).
They were all great, but I really like the front row better! Receiving a wink or a look of recognition from Paul is money you just can’t buy!
And while I personally would love for him to do a show for us diehards, pure deep cuts, it never moves me to see kids in Beatles t-shirts with their fathers and grandfathers all singing along to ‘Hey Jude’, or the delighted faces of mum and 9-year-old daughter as the stage explodes for ‘Live And Let Die’.
Happy birthday Paolo. Thank you for the music and all the memories. My life wouldn’t be the same without you.
And, as I once wrote on a sign, thank you for being born.
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