Paul McCartney & Friends – Royal Albert Hall, London – 29th March 2012

It’s not every day you get to see members of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Jam playing together on the same stage! But that is exactly what happened tonight as Sir Paul McCartney brought his friends on stage at the Royal Albert Hall to jam on Get Back. Sir Paul is playing tonight as part of a series of concerts in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust charity and he brings a definite sense of occasion to this magnificent venue.

Shortly after 8:30pm Paul Weller introduces Macca as ““a fella I’ve been listening to my whole life” and the band kick things off with Beatles classics Magical Mystery Tour & Drive My Car before letting everyone know that today is the anniversary of the
Paul McCartney @ The Royal Albert Hall, London — 29th March 2012

Albert Hall. “It was opened 141 years ago to this day – not by me, by Queen Victoria,” he joked. I was half expecting tonight’s concert to include more obscure McCartney tunes which I didn’t recognise but these were few and far between, and those that he did play were great and fitted the set perfectly, even the tune from his Fireman side project. And, at 69 years old, Sir Paul is still extremely lively on stage and looks like he’s thoroughly enjoying himself.

As a seated venue, the Albert Hall doesn’t lend itself so much to those in the audience who are itching to dance and there are plenty of miserable people all too ready to insist those that do sit down again. It means the atmosphere doesn’t quite rise to the levels you might expect until later in the night when the majority of the crowd finally give in to the urge to get up and enjoy themselves.

A segway into Hendrix’s Foxy Lady allows Paul to recall the time he met Jimi while on tour with The Beatles and it’s stories like that which remind you that you’re in the presence of a man who is a huge part of musical history. Paperback Writer sounds every inch the perfect pop song, Let Me Roll gives McCartney chance to show his guitar skills before he jumps behind the piano for a rousing run through Let It Be. He dedicates songs to his various wives and plays a beautiful Songbird which he tells us was written for those struggling with civil rights issues in the 60s.

This is no one-man show however. The band tonight all prove themselves as gifted musicians, with drummer Abe Laboriel Jnr also proving himself to be a hilarious character as he joins Paul on the stage to show some dance moves. There’s a lovely tribute to George Harrison during Something, with photos of Paul & George displayed behind the stage, before Wings’ Band On The Run finally has the audience on their feet. Hey Jude ends the main set with the predictable singalong, the whole room filled with “Na na na naa”s and it safe to say that this has already been a night to remember.

The encore is the highlight however. Day Tripper is fantastic but it’s the introduction of Ronnie Wood, Roger Daltrey and Paul Weller on stage for a superb Get Back which really feels like a once-in-a-lifetime moment. It could all end there but we’re treated to a final solo performance of Yesterday before the night is brought to an uplifting end with The Beatles’ Carry That Weight.

The Teenage Cancer Trust is such a fantastic charity and this run of concerts is so important for raising awareness, as well as money, for the cause. “I think we’ve had a good time this evening”, say Macca. I doubt anyone in the Albert Hall would disagree with that.

Review – Steve Gerrard

Photos – Yui Mok/PA Wire & Chris Boland

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