La Défense Arena, Paris Touring in Britain Wed- Sun
You’d think, by now, that Paul McCartney might have had his fill of it all. But there he was in June, turning Carpool Karaoke into a tiny gig in a Liverpool pub that has racked up 35 million views and probably generated more joy than any other musical moment this year.
There he was in September, releasing a sparky solo album, which went to No 3. There he was in November, reissuing The Beatles’ White Album in a subtle remix that reached No 4. And here he is now, starting his eighth tour in a decade.
The man is 76.
He does offer two concessions to the encroaching years. One is a little joke – when Live And Let Die ends with a bang, he sticks his fingers in his ears, like a grandad in a sitcom. The other is a decision, finally letting his hair go grey. That queasy shade of chestnut is now history.
As, in another sense, is McCartney’s career. To go and see him is like being given a guided tour of a great museum – by the artist who made half the exhibits.
Paris’s newest venue, a roofed-in rugby ground with room for 40,000, is sold out. A small boy and girl perch on their parents’ shoulders. Later I see them sitting on the floor with some colouring books and wonder if they’ll remember this night. Either way, they’ll tell the grandchildren.
McCartney could easily get away with playing 20 songs. Instead he gives us 38, and at the soundcheck he played another nine. Sometimes his gigs suffer from a lack of live horns. He’s fixed that now, hiring a trio who add bursts of warmth to Let ’Em In and Lady Madonna.
He plays three tracks from the new album, all built for a choir of thousands. It’s as if Macca has been doing his homework for Glastonbury.
If so, he’ll be reaping what he sowed. The mother of those mass singalongs is Hey Jude, now 50. Rounding off the main set, it produces two magic moments: McCartney at the piano, singing simply, conversationally, then the crowd revelling in the na-na-na-nas.