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Old May 10, 2003, 04:45 PM   #1
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Default Paul Plays Historic Show In Rome

May 10, 8:30 PM EDT

McCartney Performs Historic Show in Rome

Associated Press Writer

ROME (AP) -- Ringed by the crumbled walls of the Colosseum, Paul McCartney strummed his acoustic guitar and belted out Beatles tunes Saturday night during a rare concert of old hits such as "Yesterday" and "Hey Jude" at one veritably old venue.

The exclusive charity show took place before a few hundred people who paid up to $1,490 each to listen up-close to McCartney inside Rome's ancient gladiatorial stage - bathed in multicolored lights and covered in wafting smoke for the occasion.

"As you can imagine, this is a magnificent occasion for us," McCartney said, apparently awed by the setting. "I keep wanting to look around."

Tickets for Saturday's show were auctioned online, with profits going to Rome's archaeological offices and to Adopt-a-Minefield, the anti-landmines charity backed by the singer and his wife. The event brought in just over $287,000.

The largely acoustic 100-minute show included many of the Beatles best-known hits, including a solo guitar performance of "Blackbird," a raucous "All My Loving" - and even a blunder that briefly halted "Eleanor Rigby."

"I've done it again!" McCartney exclaimed. "I wrote this song and I always forget the words."

A bizarre solo ukulele performance of George Harrison's "Something" was also an oddity, as was an Italian tribute: "Volare."

The show came during McCartney's "Back in the World" tour - his first in Europe for a decade. McCartney was also playing a free concert Sunday on a stage outside the Colosseum, with hundreds of thousands expected to fill the Via dei Fori Imperiali that leads toward the aged arena and is lined with Ancient Roman relics.

McCartney's promoters said earlier that he might drop some loud rock numbers Sunday, so the outdoor concert would not disturb 82-year-old Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.

The performance inside the Colosseum on Saturday was rare but not the first. A year ago, another benefit featuring Ray Charles was billed as the first concert there.
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