Paul McCartney @ SSE Hydro, Glasgow, 14 Dec
At just shy of three hours, with a 39 song setlist – more than half of which is made up of The Beatles – only the Scroogiest individual leaves the Hydro with a frown tonight
Going into any 'legacy act' show, especially one that's probably responsible for more hits than any other, there's a certain amount of apprehension to go with the excitement. Will they play X? Will they sound the same? Will they play too much new stuff? For Paul McCartney tonight, the fact that the set is more than half Beatles material (22 songs) largely renders the above concerns moot.
Sure, he doesn't sound quite the same as he did 50 years ago, but it'd be bonkers to expect any different. Later Beatles and Wings material tends to fare better vocally, as the emphasis on lyrics and arrangement begin to outweigh the raw energy of songs like A Hard Day's Night and Can't Buy Me Love (both of which are dispatched within the first ten minutes). As fabulous as it is to hear songs like Love Me Do and Back in the U.S.S.R., McCartney can't quite match the original pace. Luckily, for the majority of the evening, the crowd is on hand to provide hearty backing vocals.
One thing that McCartney does provide, unlike a Brian Wilson or Rolling Stones, for example, is some new material. However, with only six songs from the last 30 years, it's hardly an imposition, even with the schmaltzy My Valentine. Although Fuh You goes to show that he can still write a hit (that song would be huge in the hands of a Foster the People-esque group).
The band tonight sound fantastic, breathing new life into canonised jams like Something and Eleanor Rigby, while McCartney can still tug the heartstrings with his charmingly reckless piano-playing, as seen on Maybe I'm Amazed and Let It Be. The main set ends in ostentatious style with a pyrotechnics-heavy Live and Let Die before the singular thrill of the Hey Jude singalong; something everyone's done a million times, but now they can say they've done it with the man himself.
The encore delivers festive cheer in the form of the worst Christmas song of all time, Wonderful Christmas Time, complete with a choir from Paisley Grammar School. Serious guilty pleasure territory. Then it's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise), the proto-metal Helter Skelter and the Abbey Road medley to close things out. Just shy of three hours, with 39 songs, it's a lot of McCartney for your money and only the Scroogiest individual is leaving the Hydro with a frown tonight.