Regina shares her story of Paul’s concert in London.
“When he sang ‘Here Today’ you could hear the emotion in his voice.”
I was lucky enough to get tickets for Paul’s concert in London, on December 16th 2018. I’ve never seen him live before and so I didn’t know what to expect but obviously I was very excited. I didn’t have the best seats but it was good enough for me. Only later did I realize I was sat in the stand above Paul’s family, Ringo and so on.
About an hour before Paul would get on stage, the screens started working. It was like a slide show through Paul’s life. There were pictures of him as a kid, pictures from The Beatles, Pictures of Linda and his family, pictures of Wings and of course pictures of Paul now. His iconic Höfner bass was the end of this slide show. All these pictures were underlined with songs that Paul has written and sung over the course of his career. Soon the song choices became more and more interesting to me, since they seemed to relate so much to what was shown on screen.
Then the concert started with “A hard Day’s Night” a few minutes after 8 pm. Despite being 76 years old he played for 3 hours straight. The setlist consisted of 40 songs from the very beginning (“In Spite of all the Danger” up to his latest records like “Fuh You” or “Come on to me”). That’s an hour (if not more) longer than most of today’s acts concert. That man is literally unstoppable.
When the screen showed pictures of his youth, there would be a rock’n’roll song playing. When there was a picture of Linda it would be a song he wrote for her, like „My Love“. Soon enough there was this picture of John (picture 1). The moment this came up „Oh! Darling!“ started playing. A song Paul most likely wrote about John. A song so full of sadness, a song about being left behind. I don’t believe that this song choice was anything but carefully thought through. It was the first moment of Paul remembering John and it showed me how much he still misses John. He could have put any happy song over that picture that he wrote with John but he didn’t. He chose a song from the break-up period.
Paul’s always been a very guarded man and he likes to repeat the same old stories so as to keep his privacy. The same goes for his tour. He likes to tell the same kind of stories in between songs, which you’ll notice if you went to more than one concert or just if you watch concert videos of his on YouTube. But his way of remembering John isn’t always in his words. It can also be found in his way of performing, which he obviously developed together with John but most importantly it’s in the way he acts and holds himself when he tells those stories of John.
I’ve gone back and counted out how many times he mentioned each of the other Beatles. Ringo, despite being in the audience, only got mentioned when he got introduced by Paul during the encore, where they played “Get Back” together with Ronnie Wood.
George’s name fell about five time. Two of those came when Paul introduced “Something” which acted as his tribute to Georgie, as he called him.
“I’m sure lot of you know, but George Harrison was a really good ukulele player. Let’s hear it for Georgie. You know, he loved the ukulele. He was really into it. And I was round at his place once. He had a big collection of ukuleles. Actually, he gave me this one. Anyway, we were sitting around and I said to him: ‘I’ve learned one of your songs on the ukulele.’ So we played it together then and I’m gonna play it for you now.” – Paul McCartney introducing ‘Something’
John on the other hand, was mentioned about 10 times. Paul talked about their days in the Quarrymen, about their song-writing and how it progressed when they wrote “From Me to You” and then there was the moment when he sang “Here Today”.
This song, which Paul wrote in 1982 to pay tribute to John, tends to make Paul very emotional when he plays it live, so also on this day. Paul always likes to introduce this song with the same kind of story. I’ve seen it in so many different recordings of his live performances. It’s a kind of warning and an invitation to the audience to not do what he did. It is a lesson he had to learn the hard way.
“If you want to say something nice to people, you sometimes put it off. You sometimes go: ‘Oh, I’ll say it tomorrow or say it next week and then it could be too late and you wish you’d said it.” – Paul McCartney introducing ‘Here Today’
This is once again about Paul being a guarded person. Him and John never talked about feelings. They certainly never said “I love you” to the other, as Paul admitted, when talking about this song. This song is his way of finally telling John about his feelings and that he really did love him. It was too late however, since John had died before Paul could say it to him face to face.
When he sang “Here Today” you could hear the emotion in his voice. Especially when it came to the part where he sings those special words (“I love you”).
“Sometimes, it gets a bit emotional, that song”. – Paul McCartney, after singing ‘Here Today’
You don’t need to be a Beatles’ expert to see how Paul is still influenced by the memory of John and how he still misses him terribly. He may not physically show it very often but it’s all there. In his demeanour, his performance and most importantly in his songs. It’s in the ones he wrote with John and it is in the songs he wrote for and about John.
A Paul McCartney concert is always in some kind or form a way to remember John Lennon.