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Old Mar 29, 2002, 12:40 AM   #1
Old Brown Shoe
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Default Driving USA Articles

I decided to post this new thread where the articles reguarding Paul's tour can be posted... I know they will be so many, so, better to put them in just a topic

Let's start!

A Worldy Presence

After A Year Of Transition, Paul McCartney's Effect On Our Lives Has Never Been More Indelible

By Richard Abowitz

The past year has provided ample opportunity for the public to be reminded of Paul McCartney's virtues, which include being good-natured, a humanitarian, a living legend and--to this day--an artist of awesome talents. Of course, the massive success of the Beatles anthology, One, confirmed that group's timeless appeal. Anyone have doubts? But more surprising to some was the Wings anthology that proved Sir Paul's heaven-sent gift for melodies never left him, even if critics of the day sometimes refused to hear it. A lyrics collection also was published that highlighted McCartney's underestimated poetic gifts. Finally, McCartney recently released Driving Rain--his strongest collection of original material in years. So, it is a good time for us to appreciate this man whose rare tours--all shows are sure sell outs--are frankly more a gift to fans, than for any promotion or for McCartney's profit.

Because of the death of George Harrison and Linda McCartney, though he will turn just 60 in June, McCartney has these days the air of a survivor. But he has never let despair of any sort dominate his music. He was among the first to volunteer his talents after Sept. 11 and he became a comforting presence to New Yorkers in the immediate aftermath. It goes without saying this is an unlikely role for a rock star who is not even a United States citizen.

But McCartney is not like anyone else. He was in the Beatles, and just one of the things that must mean is that he has already deeply touched the life of every person--from waiters, to lawyers, to the President--he will ever meet. Who is going to be unmoved by meeting the author of "Yesterday"? Who? It is a responsibility that McCartney has always handled with admirable grace while continuing to maintain a private life and still remain a creative artist and working musician.

On Driving Rain, some of the new songs like "Lover to a Friend" manage to show McCartney's special vulnerability in a way that has not always been true of his post-Beatles music. Also on Driving Rain, McCartney pulls off some fantastic base-playing and makes plenty of joyful noise. But as good as the new music is, audiences are going to hear McCartney sing the songs that changed their lives, and he obliges, since he has always been as much a showman as an artist.

Critics are frequently accused of being negative, and the reason is that it is much easier to come up with a clever put-down than interesting praise. So, while it sounds foolish and uncritical to say it, the truth is that McCartney is one of the few artists who can't be appreciated or praised enough. If you have a ticket, just take a moment during the show, to appreciate, and I mean truly appreciate, just how lucky you are to be basking in McCartney's performance. Can you imagine what your life would be like without his songs? I can't.

"Because there wasn't any reason left to keep it all inside"
- Paul McCartney, 1982
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Old Apr 01, 2002, 07:19 AM   #2
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He Can Work It Out: Paul McCartney's Late Passage

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 31, 2002; Page G01

It's been a knight's hard day.

After high-profile appearances on two of the year's most watched television programs, the Super Bowl and the Oscars, Sir
Paul McCartney finds himself in Oakland, Calif., working on all the last-minute problems that must be solved by tomorrow,
when he commences his first tour in nearly a decade. Hundreds of thousands of tickets for shows in 19 cities -- including those
at MCI Center April 23 and 24 -- sold out in minutes.

McCartney's sudden omnipresence is, in part, a matter of meticulous planning. This tour would likely have happened to support
"Driving Rain," a CD released in November that has sold somewhat disappointingly. And the Oscar performance was attached
to McCartney's Oscar-nominated song for the Cameron Crowe film "Vanilla Sky."

But events beyond his control have also conspired to bring him back to center stage. In mid-November, McCartney and Ringo
Starr visited George Harrison at a New York hospital -- a poignant last reunion of the three surviving Beatles, just 10 days
before Harrison died of cancer.

At their last meeting, the 59-year-old McCartney got to do with Harrison what the Beatles had sung about so memorably --
hold his hand.

"We'd wanted to hold everyone in the world's hands," McCartney says, "and we'd never managed to hold each other's."

And then there's the Sept. 11 factor: McCartney and his fiancee, Heather Mills, were on the runway at John F. Kennedy
Airport that day, bound for England, when the hijacked airliners struck the World Trade Center towers. Grounded, they
returned toMcCartney's East Hampton home and watched events unfold on television.

McCartney, speaking by telephone Wednesday evening, said he had been close to planning a trip to Russia in conjunction with
the CD's release.

"I wanted to go there and sing 'Back in the USSR' -- I've never done that," he explains. "But we couldn't leave the country, and
in the end, we're glad we couldn't because we had a lot of friends and relatives in New York and it was kind of good to
experience the whole thing with Americans and be right there as the British support group."

McCartney, whose father had been a volunteer fireman in England during World War II, was so moved that he put together the
"Concert for New York" at Madison Square Garden. Intended to aid the families of victims and to honor the heroes, living and
dead, of New York's police and fire departments, the televised October event raised $30 million. There the former Beatle
unveiled the anthemic "Freedom," which he later performed at the Super Bowl.

It became another in a long line of songs by McCartney and/or his former mate John Lennon that provided support for battered
spirits, from "Let It Be" and "Hey Jude" to "Imagine."

"It's funny, isn't it," McCartney muses. "The word 'allies' is apolitical, but certainly since World War II we know in England that
Americans really helped us, and there's a residue of feeling that things might have been different without the Americans."

The year 2001 was one of furious activity, even before September. McCartney published his first collection of poems,
"Blackbird Singing," and embarked on a series of public readings; staged several exhibitions of his paintings, as well as
photographs taken by his late wife, Linda McCartney; and oversaw the release of the "Wingspan" album and documentary,
tracing the '70s success of his "other" group, Wings.

But McCartney's not mired in yesterdays. Four years after the death of his beloved wife and partner of 30 years, and just a few
weeks before his 60th birthday, McCartney is set to marry Mills, a 34-year-old activist for the rights of amputees. Mills, who
lost a leg below the knee when she was hit by a motorcycle, has crusaded to rid the world of land mines and to provide
prosthetic limbs for victims of those mines.

The rumored date is June 6 in New York, but McCartney dismisses this as "newspaper speculation. I can tell you it's not true.
Watch this space for more predictions!

"It's a private thing, particularly in my case," he adds.

Less so will be that June 3 Party at the Palace. That would be Buckingham Palace, site of the 50th anniversary celebration of
Queen Elizabeth II's ascension to the British throne. The house band will include old pals Eric Clapton, Elton John and Phil

Will they perform "Her Majesty," McCartney's 22-second tribute that was the last track of the last album the Beatles recorded

"I don't know," McCartney says with a chuckle. "I'd certainly like to. I haven't decided yet, but it looks like a good possibility."

He's also hoping that the royal family responds to a popular movement to award the first-ever posthumous knighthood to
Harrison. In 1965, all four Beatles were awarded the MBE (Member of the British Empire, a middle-ranking honor) and
McCartney became Sir Paul in 1997, despite admitting to having smoked marijuana in the palace loo at the previous ceremony.

McCartney had known Harrison long before he knew Lennon: They took the same city bus to the Liverpool Institute, spending
the hour-long ride talking about guitars and rock-and-roll.

His final visit with Harrison was "very sad," McCartney recalls. "We all knew he was very ill, but we laughed and we joked just
like we always did."

At a certain point that day, he took Harrison's hand. "Being Liverpool guys, I wondered whether it would be the right thing to
do," McCartney says. "But I did -- and for me it was a great blessing and a great memory in the tragedy of him dying, which I
still can't believe. It's difficult to think of my little mate on the bus . . . "

He adds: "There was some light in the gloom. I look for the good in the gloom. It's a strong theme in my life. The way I figure it,
nobody's got that long, so whatever time you have, go, enjoy it. One day you enjoy, the next day you enjoy and you add all
those days and it turns out to be a life, and you've had an enjoyable life. I don't have any deeper philosophy than that."

Sorrow has been a frequent companion for McCartney these past few years, particularly since the passing in April 1998 of his
soul mate, Linda. In 30 years together, their longest separation had been the eight-day week McCartney spent in a Tokyo jail
in 1980 on a marijuana possession charge. The two years between Linda's diagnosis of cancer and her death were followed by
18 months of grieving.

What put McCartney back on the long and winding road to recovery were a pair of projects encouraged by Linda: the
collection of poetry and "Run Devil Run," a 1999 album of classic rock songs. McCartney celebrated Linda's life and work
through a traveling exhibition and two books of her photographs and the continuation of her successful vegetarian food

Even the "Wingspan" project seemed part of a campaign to ensure that Linda's achievements not be underestimated. The
documentary, compiled by their daughter Mary and her husband, was as much love story as band history.

"I knew that Linda wanted to set the record straight and not just leave all these bad criticisms," McCartney says. "So we put
together a record that said: Judge for yourself -- was it any good or wasn't it? That was dealing with the end of a period in my
life, really, with Linda's passing.

"Linda knew I loved rock-and-roll, knew I sang it around the house, and she said, 'You must do a rock record.' It was true of
the poetry book. When you've been married that long, you share things, like I do now with my girlfriend, Heather. I'm very
lucky to have found another great woman."

It was "Magic," a joyful ballad celebrating the night McCartney met Linda Eastman, that truly brought him out of the shadows.

"I found myself looking at the positive aspects of my relationship with Linda and looking to the future with my relationship with
Heather," he says of the song from his current album. "It was one of those things: Can the two live side by side? They seemed
so opposite-ends-of-the-spectrum, but I've found that they do, and I'm very lucky for that."

Another song, "Back in the Sunshine Again" (written with son James), includes the line "Life's too short to be lonely."

"It was a bridge, which is kind of what 'Driving Rain' is about," he says. "I didn't intend it to be like that, but when you look at
what we recorded and what we left off, it's become that, a reference to the past but a bridge into the future."

Such optimism should hardly surprise anyone who knows McCartney's work.

"It's always been my thing. I think it's just something to do with my personality. . . . Some people like movies that are a bit dark
and doomy. I must say, I like them to have an upbeat end, if possible. . . . I don't like to sit in gloom, it's a very difficult state to
be in, so I am always looking for a way out."

He has also spent a lot of time looking after his place in music history. The most written-about musical group in history seemed
to have the final word with 1995's "Beatles Anthology" documentary and accompanying albums and 1999's massive oral
history of the same name. Yet McCartney concurrently authorized Barry Miles's biography, "Many Years From Now."

It's a rich work, particularly in detailing the songwriting collaboration at the heart of the Beatles phenomenon. But it's also a
challenge to the cult of John Lennon, which has only grown since Lennon's murder in 1980.

"It was an answer to the revisionism that was happening at the time," McCartney says. "There were people saying I did nothing
in the Beatles! And I thought it was laughable and many people knew the truth, but it was being put about in some quite high
quarters, and I just thought: 'If that gets on a hard disk 100 years from now, history could end up being rewritten!' I just wanted
people, when they call up data in the future, for my side to be there."

McCartney and Lennon each struggled with their joint legacy, the dozens of pop standards crafted in an unparalleled burst of
creativity between 1962 and 1970. The two had worked together closely at the start of the period, and in a more fragmented
fashion later on, though they continued to share songwriting credit and royalties without regard to who wrote what.

McCartney was the most prolific ex-Beatle -- he recorded more albums than the other three combined -- as well as the most
public, particularly through concert tours. Yet history has seemed to downgrade his role in the Beatles, partly through
oversimplified portraits of the artists as young men. Lennon tends to be cast as the artsy, aggressive, intellectually-politically
passionate Beatle, while McCartney is the soft, sentimental, superficial Beatle, the writer of silly love songs.

Still, in the 100th edition of the British music magazine Mojo, McCartney recently named John Lennon as his hero, citing his
"massive talent, great wit, courage and humor. He influenced me, very much so. Did he ever disappoint me? Yeah, from time to
time, whenever we were having a barney. But only infrequently."

Those tensions "between me and John," he said Wednesday, "are completely resolved. There's no problem. As some people
say, John's camp is another affair."

And the business battles that helped break up the Beatles continue three decades on. When "The Beatles Anthology" was being
put together, McCartney made a special request to Yoko Ono, executor of the Lennon estate, that the songwriting credit on
"Yesterday" -- the most played song in the history of pop radio, which has always been acknowledged as McCartney's solo
creation -- be switched from "Lennon-McCartney" to "McCartney-Lennon." Ono refused.

Part of McCartney's concern has to do with technology. McCartney first recognized a potential problem in a Rome bar where,
sneaking a peek at the pianist's "fake book," saw "Hey Jude" -- another of his solo creations -- credited to "John Lennon"
because there wasn't enough room on the page for both names. A similar problem exists in the Internet world, where limitations
of data storage often knock off the ends of sentences -- or, perhaps, songwriting credits.

Another legacy issue concerns the use of Beatles songs in commercials. Neither McCartney nor Lennon's estates control the
use of these songs. Their publishing rights have long been owned by Michael Jackson, who notoriously sold "Revolution" to
Nike in 1986.

The Super Bowl that featured McCartney's performance in February also signaled the first broadcast of a 30-second Allstate
insurance commercial that made use of "When I'm 64," whose basic melody McCartney wrote when he was 14. Making it
doubly ironic was that the jingle was performed by Julian Lennon. It was the first time he had recorded a Beatles song.

But a new Lennon-McCartney feud is not imminent. "It's a dumb move on the publishing company's part because I don't think
it helps the songs in the long run," McCartney says. "But if anybody's going to do it, I'd rather it be Julian. I've got to laugh at

For "Driving Rain," as with "Run Devil Run," McCartney revisited the Beatles' early methodology, mainly playing his trusted
Hofner bass and singing, leaving additional instrumentation to others. He worked in a Los Angeles studio with a small group
over a short period, looking to recapture the spontaneity and energy of the early '60s. The album, his first of original songs since
Linda's death, received generally positive reviews but has yet to achieve gold status since its November release. His previous
album of originals, 1997's "Flaming Pie," had opened at No. 2 and gone gold in three days.

This has to be disappointing, particularly given the sales of the Beatles "1" compilation (No. 1 in 34 countries, with worldwide
sales of 23 million, including 8 million here) and even "Wingspan" (2 million copies in the United States).

Retrospective material apparently sells itself, while new, unfamiliar material by a mature artist meets a brick wall. Perhaps
McCartney's playing with the notion that his career is in the toilet: The cover of "Driving Rain" is a grainy self-portrait of the
artist in the loo, taken with a tiny camera built into his watch.

He dismisses that interpretation, invoking a previous album-cover furor: "I was not dead when I took my shoes off" walking
across Abbey Road.

In fact, McCartney is doing rather well for someone who's been rumored to be dead for so many years. Last April, the Sunday
Times of London's annual list of the country's wealthiest people crowned McCartney the pop world's first billionaire and 11th
richest person in England, with a wealth estimated at close to $2 billion.

Yet McCartney not only continues to work but does so in new mediums, risking ridicule as much as reward. In 1982, at age
40, he took up painting, a hobby encouraged by his pal . . . Willem de Kooning. But he began exhibiting only in 1999, when a
German gallery sought out his work; the catalogue for that show was published in 2000 as a coffee-table book, "Paul
McCartney Paintings." A show of his paintings, sculpture and photographs opens next month at Liverpool's Walker Art

At age 50, one of the world's best-known lyricists began writing poetry, moved to do so by the death of Ivan Vaughan, a
classmate at the Liverpool Institute with whom McCartney shared a birthday. It was Vaughan who on July 6, 1957, introduced
15-year-old Paul McCartney to another schoolboy chum, 17-year-old John Lennon. When McCartney gave his first public
poetry reading, he did so at Liverpool's Cavern Club on the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' first gig there.

"I'm sure there are people who say, 'Don't do this . . . just rest on your laurels,' " McCartney says. "But I never thought that
was a very good idea."

2002 The Washington Post Company

"Because there wasn't any reason left to keep it all inside"
- Paul McCartney, 1982
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Old Apr 01, 2002, 11:23 AM   #3
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Ready for the road
Paul McCartney plans lean and mean U.S. tour

Culver City -- Paul McCartney stood in the middle of a vast Los Angeles soundstage, dwarfed by a huge array of video screens. He and his new band were working the kinks out of the former Beatle's first tour in almost a decade, which kicks off tomorrow at the Arena in Oakland.

The warehouse was dimly lit. The soundmen and video choreographers were a football field away. A smattering of onlookers sprawled across two thrift- store couches on the bare concrete floor.

McCartney was trying to coordinate a particular moment in which he'll raise his famous violin-shaped Hofner bass guitar over his head, timed to an accompanying video image above.

He muttered some instructions into the microphone. His amplified voice rattled around the cavernous building. Then he caught himself.

"I hope somebody's listening to me," he joked. "I just got the feeling I was talking to myself."

More than any pop star of the rock 'n' roll era, McCartney has not lacked for an audience. He is, of course, one of the best-selling songwriters and recording artists of all time. The Beatles' astounding achievements have been well-documented, and McCartney's 1970s band, Wings, scored seven No. 1 albums. In 1999 he was named the Greatest Composer of the Last 1,000 Years in a BBC poll, beating out such also-rans as Mozart, Bach and Beethoven.

Of late this world-famous man has been keeping a heightened profile. The Oscars, the Super Bowl, the Concert for New York City: Even for Paul McCartney,

that's called exposure.

"We don't do any shows with an audience less than a billion," teased the ever-merry ex-Beatle, muffling the words around a mouthful of noodles during a break in rehearsal.

The night before he'd worn all black to the Oscars, where he performed "Vanilla Sky," his title track to the recent Cameron Crowe-Tom Cruise movie. Sitting in his comfortable trailer on the studio lot, however, he's in casual mode -- a black T-shirt, an unbuttoned dress shirt plucked from the laundry pile and a pair of plaid flannel pajama bottoms.

"Smelly socks!" he yips, peeling them off.

On the "Driving USA" tour, which will cover 19 cities through May 18 (including the Compaq Center at San Jose on Wednesday), the crowds will be in the 12,000-to-18,000 range. Most of the shows sold out in 15 or 20 minutes.

For McCartney, who turns 60 in June, the excitement is nothing new. One segment of the tour will feature a retrospective of black-and-white Beatles footage on the big screens. With McCartney crooning "All My Loving," it's as thrilling as ever.

The tour will feature songs from all phases of his career -- Beatles classics such as "We Can Work It Out" and "Back in the U.S.S.R.," Wings hits including "Jet" and "Maybe I'm Amazed" and a few cuts from his new album, "Driving Rain."

"I'm doing some stuff I've never done before," he says. An acoustic interlude will be the first time he has ever played guitar onstage without accompaniment, he claims.

"In the early days we used to have John (Lennon) on a crappy little organ." He laughs, mimicking the sound of a cheap keyboard. "We sounded like a little church group."

Clearly McCartney is feeling expansive and reflective. Besides celebrations of his Beatles and Wings careers, the show includes tender tributes to his late wife, Linda, and his late band mate, George Harrison.

His last visit with Harrison came in November, two weeks before George died.

"We were laughing and joking, just like old times," McCartney says. "The only difference, really, was that I was holding his hand."

He looks off for a moment. "Because he was pretty frail, you know. It was very lovely, very emotional, very warm. I came away from the meeting thinking, 'Gosh, I held his hand for the first time in my life.' That was sort of a plus.

I mean, out of this terrible, negative thing came something very positive."

The same might be said of his relationship with Heather Mills, the model and activist McCartney plans to marry this summer, four years after Linda's death. It's obvious that their affection has re-energized him. Mills is the muse of several songs on "Driving Rain."

After recording the album, the couple tooled around Southern California in McCartney's rented Corvette. To hear him tell it, they acted like kids, giggling excitedly each time they played the CD.

"It's one of those cool albums to drive to," McCartney says. "It drives well."

He's extraordinarily wealthy, and his accomplishments are beyond compare. Why go on the road again?

It just feels right, he says. Every time he makes an album, Capitol Records prays that he'll decide to tour.

"I always say, 'We'll see when the record's done,' " he says. This time, the decision was easy: "I like the players. I thought, 'I've got an instant band.' "

"Driving Rain" producer David Kahne, a former San Franciscan who worked on records with Pearl Harbour, Translator, Romeo Void and many other local '80s groups, says he assembled the McCartney band from musicians he knew in Los Angeles.

"Paul met them in the studio and 10 minutes later they were recording," he says. Despite a few trademark intricate arrangements, "Driving Rain" sounds like a live band at work, in the moment.

"That's exactly what I was shooting for," the producer says. "Paul wanted to make a more aggressive record, and so did I."

Of the current group, keyboardist Paul "Wix" Wickens is the only McCartney veteran; he toured in 1989 and 1993. Guitarist Rusty Anderson was in the band Ednaswap and has played with Elton John, Ricky Martin and Sinead O'Connor, among others. He met Kahne working on a Bangles record.

At rehearsal, hefty percussionist Abe Laboriel Jr. thumped his drum kit, his shaved head tilted way back as he sang improbably lovely harmonies into a microphone. Anderson and guitarist Brian Ray added their own effusive backup vocals, such a key component in the McCartney songbook.

In an age of blockbuster performances that require technical wizardry, daredevil physicality and more and more recorded music, it seems the McCartney tour will have a refreshing back-to-basics feel. At the rehearsal, the band was loud, raw and excitable, making even the relative trifle "Coming Up" sound like a force.

"I like that," McCartney says. "If we make a mistake, you'll hear it. We'll have to stop."

He slips into an absurd, too-cool voice for comic effect: "It's on the edge,


With so many hit songs and fan favorites in the storage bin, making up the set list has been one of McCartney's few headaches. It's a good problem to have.

"We're leaving out things like 'Penny Lane,' " he says. "Anyone else would do that. It's a nice number, a good arrangement."

One of the new songs, the boisterous album-opener "Lonely Road," features a telling line. "I hear your music and it's driving me wild again," McCartney wails.

Lucky ticketholders will know just what he means.


Song of the moment-Band On The Run
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Old Apr 02, 2002, 12:15 AM   #4
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Pictures from the concert.

Some of the songs played are:

Hello Goodbye
Here Today
My Love.

(I'll hopefully know more later )

"Because there wasn't any reason left to keep it all inside"
- Paul McCartney, 1982
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Old Apr 02, 2002, 12:16 AM   #5
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Here's another source.. a bit different, or more complete
CB = Complete Band, AS = Acoustic Solo
Hello Goodbye (CB)
Jet (CB)
All My Lovin (CB) (clip with young Beatles and fans screaming)
Getting Better (CB)
Coming Up (CB)
Let Me Roll It (CB)
Lonely Road (CB)
Driving Rain (CB)
Your Loving Flame (CB)
Blackbird (AS)
Every Night (AS)
We Can Work It Out (AS)
Mother Nature's Son (just with an accordion)
Vanilla Sky (AS)
You Never Give Me Your Money (just with a kind of electric keyboard)
/ Carry That Weight (")
Fool On The Hill (CB)
Here Today (just with a piano)
Something (George's pictures in the background, just with ukulele)
Eleanor Rigby (CB)
Here There and Everywhere (CB)
Band On The Run (CB)
Back In The U.S.S.R. (CB, Paul at piano)
Maybe I'm Amazed (")
C Moon (")
My Love (")
Can't Buy Me Love (CB)
Freedom (CB, Paul at guitar)
Live and Let Die (CB - clip from 007)
Let It Be (CB)
Hey Jude (CB, all together singing)

First "Encore":

The Long and Winding Road (CB)
Lady Madonna (CB - clip with famous women, from Anne Frank to a skater)
I Saw Her Standing There (CB)

Second "Encore":

Yesterday (AS)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band (CB)
The End (CB)

[the last list I got]

[This Message Has Been Edited By Amalthea On April 02, 2002 03:23 AM]
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Old Apr 02, 2002, 08:44 AM   #6
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Paul McCartney has nothing left to prove.

He's a Beatle. He's a knight. He's an honorary American. He's been everywhere, done everything.

But in Oakland Monday night, he showed up simply "to rock 'n' roll." And after a 2 1/2-hourlong feast for the eyes and ears, McCartney had done his job. He left a sell-out crowd of 15,000 satisfied.

With a non-stop set dominated by Beatles tunes from "Can't Buy Me Love" and "Yesterday" to "The End" and "Getting Better," which McCartney claimed had never before been performed in concert, he rocked, he rolled, he paid tribute to John Lennon and George Harrison, but, mostly, he brought the Beatles back to life. And the audience, dominated by gray-haired, 50-somethings who grew up with the Fab Four, loved him for it.

McCartney, who turns 60 in June, hit all the high points of his Beatles, Wings and solo years - a career that now spans more than four decades.

He's one of the best-selling songwriters and recording artists of all time. McCartney's 1970s band, Wings, scored seven No. 1 albums. In 1999, he was named the Greatest Composer of the Last 1,000 Years in a BBC poll, beating Mozart, Bach and Beethoven.

He's kept an especially high profile recently, showing up at the Academy Awards, the Superbowl and the Concert for New York City.

Monday was the opening night of his "Driving USA" tour, which will land in 19 cities through May 18.

A parade of costumed characters, from court jesters carrying balloons to contortionists to a man on stilts and a woman walking on a gigantic rolling ball, began the evening's entertainment. They frolicked in the audience and on stage until McCartney appeared in sillouette on a screen holding his famous violin-shaped Hofner bass guitar high in the air.

He was backed by a group of tight, well-rehearsed Los Angeles musicians, several of whom performed on McCartney's latest release, "Driving Rain."

McCartney was the consummate entertainer. He strained to hit a few high notes, he messed up some lyrics and his voice sounded a bit hoarse at times, but his energy was infectious.

Women screamed when, after a few songs, McCartney stripped off his charcoal jacket and rolled up the sleeves of his gray shirt.

He sang "All My Loving," against a bank of video screens that played black-and-white Beatles footage. He told the story of "Blackbird" and how it was meant to tell about the Civil Rights-era struggle of a young black girl.

The stripped-down, acoustic set, which McCartney says is the first time he's ever played guitar onstage without accompaniment, also featured "We Can Work it Out,""Mother Nature's Son," and "Carry That Weight," during which he was forced to improvise: "This is the part where I don't remember the words. Maybe I'll remember them by the end of the tour," he sang.

No one seemed to mind. The mistakes made him human, made the crowd love him even more. By the time he got to "Hey Jude," it was a full-fledged love-fest, with ear-to-ear grins and waving arms filling the auditorium.

He indulged the crowd with two encores, wrapping things up with "Sgt. Pepper" and fittingly, "The End."

I ain't no fool and I don't take what I don't want.

[This Message Has Been Edited By PaulisMine On April 02, 2002 08:44 AM]
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