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Christopher Graham Nicolls Paul McCartney Plays Hamburg
Here's an example which was sent to Hamburg English Pages in 2003, as an excellent example, for our new REVIEWS section in the Hamburg English Pages forum:
Archive Review
Paul McCartney Plays Hamburg - 22nd May 2003
Written by and reproduced with permission of Kevin Curran
Sir Paul McCartney came to Hamburg on Wednesday evening, May 21 for a concert at the AOL Arena which is an outdoor venue. The last time he toured in Germany was 10 years ago. This one is called the "Back in the World Tour" and indeed McCartney has released a CD from one of their live shows from Earl's Court in the U.K. in March 2003. The list of songs they played Wednesday night was essentialy the same as those on the CD. Our seats were to the side and not very close to the stage but the large video screens and excellent accoustics made sure the experience was an interesting one.
I am not familiar with the other musicians making up the band McCartney plays with today; suffice to say they were tight and were able to create versions of the music as close to the studio version as possible. I didn't bring a camera with me so the only way for me to provide a picture to share was to bring along the tools of a "cub reporter" namely a pen and a pad of paper. I wrote down the names of the songs played (which I could also find online later). It was during the anecdotes in between the songs that I was glad I took notes on because I'm not sure I could have recalled them all from memory.
I think Hamburg will always be a special venue for McCartney to play since the Beatles first literally "got their act together" honing their skills on stage in this port city. In fact John Lennon once remarked: "I was born in Liverpool but I grew up in Hamburg." The Beatles spent the better part of two years (1960-62) off and on in Hamburg. I'm under the impression that all of the Beatles learned more than the basic German phrases of please & thank you and how to order a beer and a meal. In fact I'm sure they learned enough "German to survive" (Deutsch zum Ueberleben). I've seen McCartney interviewed on German TV and he can hold his own to a certain extent with the language. I'm sure he bantered in German with audiences during shows earlier during his current tour in Munich and in Cologne. But he had an extra story or two to tell here that were Hamburg specific which was a nice touch.
McCartney shares qualities with two of his contemporaries namely Bruce Springsteen & Mick Jagger. I'll touch on the Jagger angle later but I think McCartney & Springsteen are similar in that they love to spin a yarn with the audience although their styles differ a bit. Whereas Bruce has a down to earth way about him that's quintessentially American, Paul still has that dry & irreverent humor that was evident with the Beatles in their 'Hard Day's Night' & 'Help' movies. This was also on display on Wednesday night.
A group of dancers came on the stage around 8PM and entertained for a half hour. Then McCartney & Co. came on and played for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Below is a list of the numbers they performed and where and when Paul told an amusing story or had something interesting to say in English or German after a particular number I've added it in the appropriate place. An English
translation of any German he said I've put in parentheses.
1. Hello Goodbye
After opening with this number, Paul did say hello to the audience and then quipped: "I learned German in school when I was 12 years old. I also learned more German when I came back to Hamburg years later with the Beatles but I can't repeat the German I learned here in front of this audience."
A moment later he added: "Ich habe ein bischen Deutsch gelernt und fast alles auf der Reeperbahn." (I have learned a little German and almost all of it on the Reeperbahn.) The Reeperbahn is Hamburg's rough and tumble red-light district with the strip clubs, brothels and some of the clubs the Beatles played at then and that Paul mentioned such as the Indra, Kaiserkellar, Top Ten and the Star Club.
2. Jet
3. All My Loving
4. Getting Better
Paul: "Das erste Mal, dass ich dieses Lied im Konzert gesungen habe." (The first time that I have sung this song in concert). He is referring to this tour since they have been doing this song 'Getting Better' at each of their venues.
5. Let Me Roll It
6. Lonely Road
7. Your Loving Flame
At this point in the show, the rest of the band left and Paul played solo either on the piano or with the acoustic guitar.
Paul (to audience): "Jetzt bin ich allein mit euch." (Now I am alone with you) Then by way of introduction to the song he was about to go into he said: "The song 'Blackbird' came about and was inspired by the Civil Rights movement for blacks in America during an earlier time when we were touring there. And it ended up appearing a year or two later on the White Album."
8. Blackbird
9. Every Night
10. We Can Work It Out
11. You Never Give Me Your Money
12. Carry That Weight
13. The Fool On The Hill
The next two songs were tributes. By way of introducing the first song which
he sang as a tribute to John Lennon he said: Sometimes there are things you
mean to say, you never get around to saying them and then the person you
wanted to say them to is taken away from you. Ich habe dieses Lied nach dem
Tod meines Freund John geschrieben." (I wrote this song after the death of
my friend John.)
14. Here Today
Paul: "One day George came around with a ukelele. George liebte es, die Ukelele zu spielen." (George loved to play the ukelele.) Paul then grabbed a ukelele and sang George's memorable song from 1969.
15. Something
As you can imagine, the crowd was moved. Then the band came back on, he introduced them very quickly and said hello to two of his old German friends Horst Fascher & Tony Sheridan. Paul then remarked that someone in the audience had asked: "What about Ringo?" At this point the audience
spontaneously started singing "We all live in a Yellow Submarine." on their own for a good minute and a half.
16. Eleanor Rigby
17. Here, There and Everywhere
18. I've Just Seen a Face
19. Heather (dedicated to his current wife)
20. Two of Us
Paul: "Komm mit uns nach Frankreich." (Come with us to France.) Then they went into the next number.
21. Michelle
22. Band On The Run
23. Back In The USSR
24. Maybe I'm Amazed
25. Let 'Em In
26. My Love (dedicated to Linda)
27. She's Leaving Home (he mentioned that they were doing this song for the
first time on this tour)
28. Can't Buy Me Love
29. Birthday
Paul (mock seriousness): "Wir machen eine Ausweiskontrolle! Alle unter 18 muessen den Ort verlassen!" (We're doing a check of identity papers! Everyone under 18 has to leave the town!) Paul's anti-authoritarian irreverence and sense of humor showed itself . George Harrison was expelled by the Hamburg authorities in November 1960 because at 17 he was not old enough to work. He was three months shy of his 18th birthday and had to take a ferry back to England. John Lennon also had to leave Hamburg for England less than a month after George did because he too had trouble for some reason securing the required residence and work permits even though he was 20 at the time. All four Beatles were back in Hamburg soon enough after that though.
30. Live and Let Die
31. Let It Be
32. Hey Jude
During the "na-na-na-na Hey Jude" refrain that is sung at the end of that song, Paul was directing the audience to sing as well by encouraging them: "Nur die Maenner." (Only the men.) "Nur die Frauen." (Only the women). "Jetzt alles zusammen." (Now everybody together.) Then the band went off for a bit before coming back for two encores.
1st Encore:
33. The Long and Winding Road
34. Lady Madonna
35. I Saw Her Standing There
2nd Encore:
36. Yesterday
37. Sgt. Pepper (Reprise)
38. The End
This was without a doubt one of the best concerts I have ever attended of all time (it's in my Top Five). I saw him in 1976 with Wings but this show blew that one away. Back then he only did two or three Beatles' tunes max. In this show, 26 of the 38 numbers performed were Beatles' songs.
I looked at the local newspaper (Hamburger Abendblatt) on Thursday morning and Paul said he would not have time on this trip to check out some of his old haunts in Hamburg because he was in & out. He flew into Hamburg at 4PM Wednesday, went straight to the stadium for the sound check, did the show and then flew back to London after the concert not even staying overnight inHamburg.
Like Jagger, McCartney is a savvy businessman who runs a disciplined tour and is meticulous about the details but who also puts all his energy and talent into the performance. This is why his shows (as well as the Stones' and Bruce's) are top notch. I would also add that it seems like McCartney's voice has not lost much over the years at all. At least no difference that I'd ever notice. He can still hit all those high and low notes it seems so effortlessly with one of the greatest rock voices ever. So Paul still has the pipes to get the job done. Great effort & show. Very impressive! Well done! (Gut gemacht!).
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