People that came on my London Beatles tour on Thursday 7th June 2007 were in for a surprise – they got to see Paul McCartney play live – for nothing!!
Paul’s ‘secret gig’ at the Electric Ballroom, Camden Town, was only announced at about 3pm the previous day. When I read the report on the official Paul McCartney website my reaction turned from excitement to despair in a few seconds. They were giving out armbands for the concert at 12.30pm – when I would be in the middle of my Beatles tour!!! I wouldn’t be able to get to Camden until about 2pm. Would I miss out on seeing Paul McCartney because I was doing a Beatles tour! How ironic.
Due to the short notice there was no way I could get another guide to do the tour – and I thought that ‘taking a sickie’ to get tickets for Paul McCartney would have been a bit too obvious. I spent a sleepless night wondering how on earth I could be in two places at the same time.
I decided to go down to the Electric Ballroom early the next morning to see what the situation was. I arrived at about 8am and was amazed there were only 14 people in the queue! I was fully expecting there to be several hundred by then. When Paul did the signing for Ecce Cor Meum in December scores of people slept outside Virgin for the night. It seemed the late announcement of the concert has prevented many people from coming.
I asked the security guys when the bands were to be given out and he said between 12 and 12.30. I still had a problem. However, I stayed in the queue for a couple of hours and by 10am only another 6 people arrived. Then I had a brainwave. I was sure that everyone who arrived for the tour that day would like to see Paul live. Tottenham Court Road is only about 10 minutes on the underground from Camden. I could go down to the start point of the tour, bring them to Camden in good time for the handing out of bands at 12.30 and do the tour in the afternoon. Luckily London Walks agreed with my plan. My spirits were improving. Then just as I was about to leave Camden I got a call from Paulmcartney.com to say I had won tickets to the concert in their draw. Things were certainly looking up!!
About 25 people turned up for the tour and I told them the plans. Most were really excited but one or two had theatre tickets and couldn’t go to see Paul.
We got back to Camden at 11.30am and there were still only about 30 people in the queue. It seemed everyone on the tour would get in.
We did the tour in the afternoon and had some free time before the show. I recognised many old friends in queue, some I hadn’t seen for years.
The doors opened about 7pm and by then a fairly large queue had formed. However I heard later that all the fans who were outside managed to get in.
I was wondering whether there would be any merchandise available and was amazed to be given a FREE Memory Almost Full T Shirt as I walked into the ballroom.
The Electric is a large ballroom with a large downstairs area with a bar in the middle and also a small upstairs balcony. It holds around 1000 people. Even though it was standing only and I’m only 5 ft 5 inches tall I still I managed to get a good view of the stage.
Amongst the celebs present included Pierce Brosnan, Jeff Beck, Dave Gilmour, Kate Moss and McKenzie Crook.
Paul came on at about 8.40pm and launched into Drive My Car. Not a bad start! The crowd went wild. Paul was in great voice and great spirits. He seems to love playing these smaller gigs and throughout was interacting with the audience. The whole band seemed to having a great time and the atmosphere was electric from the start.
The set list was as follows:
‘Drive My Car’
‘Only Mama Knows’
‘The Long And Winding Road’
‘I’ll Follow The Sun’
‘That Was Me’
‘Back In The USSR’
‘Nod Your Head’
‘House Of Wax’
‘I’ve Got A Feeling’
‘Let It Be’
‘I Saw Her Standing There’
The songs from the new album sounded really good – especially Only Mama Knows which was better live than on the CD. It deserves to be in any Macca set list for years to come. House of Wax and That Was Me were also really good.
The crowd was raucous from the start. Inevitably The Beatles songs got the most reaction but the new songs were greeted well too. Throughout the show Paul joked about the founder of Camden ‘Camp Den’ – who was very good with his hands’. Was he talking about Denny Laine??? He also made fun of someone shouting at him by replying ‘There’s always someone shouting something unintelligable’ and then did a neanderthal man impersonation!
By far the most emotional moment of the concert was when Paul sang ‘Here Today’ – and dedicated it to our ‘fallen heroes’ John, George and Linda. I think it’s the first time he’s included Linda in the dedication for this song and he was clearly very emotional when he sang it. He said at the end ‘That’s always a dangerous song to sing’.
Highlights for me were ‘Back In the USSR’ “I’ve Got a Feeling’ and storming version of Carl Perkins’ ‘Matchbox’. It was also great seeing him play Get Back and I’ve Got a Feeling just hours after I was on my tour outside 3 Savile Row.
Paul left the stage after singing ‘Hey Jude’ but the crowd kept on singing it, and after a few minutes Paul and the band came back on and continued to play it.
After a wonderful encore of Beatles classics the concert was finally over. I suppose one surprise was that he didn’t sing Yesterday – barring the short Cavern Club gig I think it’s the first concert Paul’s done since 1973 when he hasn’t sung it. In all, the concert lasted about 1.5 hours. It was totally superb – especially as it didn’t cost a penny to get in!
Many people that had come on my tour came to thank me. I guess I made a few new friends :>)
Blogger Richard Porter Guides five Beatles walks a week for London Walks. Please go to http://www.beatlesinlondon.com for more information.
PS – about a year after the gig, I received an email from one of the walkers who were at the gig that night and had a great time. Their child was born 9 months later :>)