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GLASGOW TO KNEBWORTH
A WEEK IS A LONG TIME IN THE ROCK BUSINESS
by Geoff Baker
Photographs by David Modell
After a six-week break since the 'Brazilliance' of Rio, you sort of expected smiles when the band and crew hooked up again for the Glasgow gig.
Instead, there were tears. Big boys don't cry, they say. Well, these boys were blubbing. The Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, venue for the show, echoed to the sound of one big sniffle.
"I'm OK, I've just got something in my eye", said head carpenter Nick Luysterburghs, nicknamed Spaceman on account of his massive girth filling up most of the known universe.
Oh...Here I go again [sniff]", sniffled Marc Brickman, lighting designer and possessor of two red, sore eyes since Mac had cranked up the band for the first rehearsal.
"It's just an allergy", said Space, "A lot of us Americans get it here".
They were 'allergic' to Mull Of Kintyre, the strains of which had been made doubly-contagious as Mac rehearsed his old mega-hit with the kilted Power Of Scotland Pipe Band. Despite being one of the biggest known hits since Neanderthal man first chanted to the accompaniment of two bashed rocks, the song was never a barn-stormer in America and the Yanks among us weren't innoculated against the emotions that it invariably raises.
The Wee Scotties of Glasgow, however, had heard it hundreds of times. But that didn't stop them crying either as 11,000 of 'em so packed out the SECC that we began fibbing that "no, of course the crowd's not over the fire safety imit, officer...no,no,no,no,no,no...you must be seeing double".
As the show set another personal best for Paul - this being the biggest gig he'd ever done in Scotland - we headed for Liverpool and, the Press would claim later, history.
Initially the Liverpool show was planned for January in one of the city's largest [but still small] theatres. But Mac canned that show after wondering why "I'm hauling this huge outdoor show around the world and am just planning a piddly little gig in my home town"
There being a marked absence of any hall on Merseyside big enough to accomodate much more than the Jimmy Swaggart Fan Club, we built our own gig in a car park on the banks of the river. And as the scaffolding went up, Liverpool became increasingly hysterical over the return of its much-loved son.
"Royal Family Makes Block Booking For Macca Show", claimed the Liverpool Echo, insisting that 'insiders' had insinuated the Queen and her kids were flying up from Buck House for the show.
'Well, she'll have to stand if she does come 'cos all the seats sold out weeks ago", said Clive Dunn, the tour manager.
Most of the seats had been booked by Japanese fans, who were all over the city snapping Liver Birds, posing next to statues of Eleanor Rigby and even marrying one another in the Woolton church where Paul first heard John play at a fete.
"Lobbie...Lobbie Macintosh!", they cried as most of the nation that can't pronounce its Rs pursued the shy guitarist around the hotel.
The other half of the crowd appeared to be all called McCartney as the world's most extended family turned up to slap Paul's back and say 'eh, alright kiddo...where's the ale then?'
There was a lot riding on that back. Just weeks before, the tribute to John had soured Liverpool's mouth with performances which, as Paul admitted later, "would have made John throw up". The home of The Beatles wanted its pride in that fact back and the show had to be good.
With that in mind, God is evidently a groover. The weathermen had predicted rain [again] but Him Up There pulled rank.
Paul had wanted the Liverpool show to be a party. "Come in fancy dress", he suggested, "Dress up in Sixties gear for a laff".
And so they did. The air stank of pachouli oil, essence of hippie. There were babies with flowers in their hair, their mothers in Afghan frocks and sandals. And here and there you could spot the odd guy who'd earlier thought it was a really good idea to put on his old loon flares again and was now hopelessly trying to hide in the crowd, praying for it to get dark soon.
Meanwhile, backstage everyone who wasn't called McCartney was jostling into Tent A - one of two giant pavilions erected for the pre-show hospitality [Tent B was occupied by everyone called McCartney and, despite being the size of an aircraft carrier, was evidently too small for the task] - for the Press Conference.
For a change the history of the occasion - this being Paul's first home-town gig for 11 years and, with an over-capacity crowd of 50,000+, by far and away the biggest he, any Beatle, or The Beatles had ever played here - lent a dignity to the Press and although hacks and camera crews had flown in from the States, Japan and Europe for the show, they didn't attack him in an autograph-seeking frenzy like they normally did.
Like Glasgow, Let It Be Liverpool - as Mac had dubbed it - was a charity show and the Press Conference was staged to launch fund-raising for the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts; Macca's own Fame school, where one day - if they get the dosh