Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best of the 2000s

Best of the 2000s

I promised in my review of 2009 to be brief, and didn’t really succeed, so I’ll try and make this one short, really more a series of lists, than any big analysis. Who the hell remembers the early part of the decade anyway?! – I know time flies when you get older, but my memory ain’t what it used to be..
The lists are perhaps in some semblance of order of preference. Looking forward to arguments, contradictions, fallings out, etc..

As I mainly review albums, films and concerts on my blog, I’m going to mainly stick to those three for the purposes of my 2000s review. I have written about plays, art exhibitions and plays in the past, so feel free to scroll back.

But, to cover them briefly –

Plays - I saw lots of great plays at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, (the likes of Friel, Pinter, Chekov, Wilde etc) but if I had to pick out two others, I’d go for Shadowlands (with Charles Dance) in London a few years ago or All My Sons at the Abbey about ten years ago.

TV – somewhat hit and miss, but the good stuff was very good including The Sopranos, The West Wing, Bleak House (BBC 2006), Sense & Sensibility (BBC 2007), Jane Eyre (BBC 2007), The Office, Peep Show etc. Plus some good documentaries. There’s a theory that the higher quality of TV drama is down to not just HBO but much of the talent moving into television that in the past would have worked in film.

Sadly, the dross is still out there. Reality TV is a depressing concept – is this the best people can come up with? And it’s hard to know whether to feel sorry for people who watch X Factor or not. If they just enjoy the excitement of the format and the personalities, maybe that’s ok. But are people not being deluded if they think this is anything innovative or original from a musical point of view? Such a lot of fuss over what is essentially a karaoke show, with nothing but bland covers of old songs. Maybe the Rage Against the Machine Christmas No 1 victory will shake up a few kids out there to maybe think about forming a band, or writing a song of their own. And to think that Louis Walsh is Irish, my God are we partly to blame for the boyband / X Factor phenomenon (?!) – and to think Ireland used to be known for great bands, great songwriters and quality traditional Irish music! Anyway end of rant..

Books - as usual, I’ve been reading way too much about music, and a lot of old fiction, and recent non-fiction. But, if I had to pick three recent novels I’d go for; Never Let Me Go, Birdsong and Atonement. And still, nobody makes me laugh like P.G. Wodehouse.

Album wise, it turns out to have been not a bad decade. And this, despite the supposed demise of the album, and despite a large proportion of my favourite artists being dead or retired! (Grateful Dead, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Lennon, etc to name but a few).

It was a typically productive decade for Bob Dylan, by any standards – 3 very good albums, a major outtakes box set of recent material plus more older outtakes/live sets too, a Christmas album, over 1000 concerts, 100 radio shows, a major documentary, a self penned feature film, major art galleries all around the world exhibiting his art, plus lots of odds and ends, tv appearances, film soundtrack songs, tribute album songs, etc etc. Not a man who (now nearly 69) will have to rely on a state pension!
Wilco hit a peak with 3 incredible studio albums. Gillian Welch seems to have slowed down, but released 2 good ‘uns.
McCartney released about 4 albums; one great (Chaos), one very good (Flaming Pie), one not bad (Memory Almost Full) and one mediocre (Driving Rain).
Ditto Springsteen, who was busy too, with a decade choc full of tours and albums, mixing it up with both the E Street Band and his amazing 17 piece Sessions Band, plus some solo stuff.
The return of Leonard Cohen to live duty was a contender for highlight of the decade, but I’ve covered that already in earlier posts.
Jack White and Ryan Adams both had prolific decades. Two artists I like, but quality control not always their top priority.
We saw very good swansong albums from George Harrison and Johnny Cash, certainly the two biggest musical losses of the decade from my point of view.
There were also excellent albums and concerts from the likes of Tom Waits, Neil Young, Radiohead, but in terms of newer artists, I was glad to make the acquaintance of The Waifs, Blitzen Trapper, Richmond Fontaine, Foals, Fleet Foxes and Sufjan Stevens.
So, maybe the future is in ok hands.

Hard to pick a favourite live concert of the decade, so I’ve cheated a bit and just done a list of my favourite live artists of the decade (with some selected shows).

Film wise, I think the 2000s continued on from the 1990s with a good smattering of decent films every year amidst a lot of dross. But things have continued improving since the 1980s, a decade which was a bit of a low watermark for cinema. If I had to choose one film from the decade I’d go for Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth.


The Beatles – Remastered box sets
Bob Dylan – Modern Times
Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
Bob Dylan – Tell Tale Signs
Bob Dylan – Love & Theft
Bob Dylan – Together Through Life
Paul McCartney – Chaos and Creation in the Backyard
Gillian Welch – Soul Journey
Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator)
Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Wilco – A Ghost is Born
George Harrison - Brainwashed
R.E.M. – Accelerate
Johnny Cash – American III
Tom Waits – Alice
Tom Waits – Blood Money
Sufjan Stevens – Come on Feel the Illinoise
Bruce Springsteen – The Rising
Neil Young – Prairie Wind
Fleet Foxes
Ryan Adams – Gold
Paul McCartney – Flaming Pie
Bruce Springsteen – Magic
Gosford Park soundtrack
Radiohead – Kid A
The Waifs – Up All Night
Bruce Springsteen – The Seeger Sessions
Welcome to the Welcome Wagon
Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker
Tom Waits – Mule Variations
The Rolling Stones – A Bigger Bang
Madness – The Liberty of Norton Folgate
The Waifs – Sundirtwater
Sufjan Stevens – Michigan
The Fireman
Blitzen Trapper – Furr
Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am
Johnny Cash – American IV
Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake I’m Dreaming
Iron Maiden – A Matter of Life and Death
Levon Helm – Electric Dirt
Solomon Burke – Don’t Give Up On Me
Richmond Fontaine – Post to Wire
Brian Wilson – Smile
Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers
Lambchop – Nixon
Loretta Lynn – Van Lear Rose
Merle Haggard – Roots Vol 3
Aimee Mann – Smilers
Foals – Antidotes
PJ Harvey – Stories from the City
Duckworth Lewis Method

Live Artists

Bob Dylan (some of my favourites were; Barrowlands 04, Wiltern LA 02, Portland 01, Hammersmith or Shepherds Bush 03, or anything from 2000, 2nd Boston 06, 2nd NYC 09)

Leonard Cohen
Bruce Springsteen
Paul McCartney
Gillian Welch
The Waterboys (surprised how much I’ve come to enjoy these guys)
Tom Waits
The Rolling Stones
Solomon Burke (contender for gig of the decade actually, Vicar St a few years ago)
Patti Smith
Camille O’Sullivan (not just a cabaret type artist, but a great song interpreter too)
Ray Davies
John Prine
Aimee Mann
Iron Maiden
Merle Haggard
Classical - various performances, mainly at Dublin’s National Concert Hall – two that spring to mind were a version of Mahler’s Symphony of 1000 and an Arvo Part festival.


Pan’s Labyrinth
Gosford Park
The Lives of Others
An Education
White Ribbon
Gran Torino
The Wrestler
The Orphanage (El Orfanato)
Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers
No Country for Old Men
Slumdog Millionnaire
Glorious 39
Master & Commander (The Far Side of the World)
There Will Be Blood
The Aviator
Million Dollar Baby
Dean Spanley
The Reader
The Departed
28 Days Later
Casino Royale
The Painted Veil
The Dark Knight
Sherlock Holmes
Inglorious Basterds
Joyeux Noel
The Pianist
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The Bourne Supremacy
The Hangover
The Wind that Shakes the Barley
City of God
Being John Malkovich
Eastern Promises
Walk the Line
The Young Victoria
The Other Boleyn Girl

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Review of 2009

Ken’s Best of 2009

Ok, this year, I’m also doing a best of the Decade review as well, so I’ll make both a bit briefer than usual. Brevity not being one of my great skills, but I’ll give it a go! Please let me know if you think I've forgotten anything, or any other feedback..


The Beatles – Remasters (mono and stereo)
Bob Dylan – Together Through Life
Madness – The Liberty of Norton Folgate
Wilco – Wilco (The Album)
George Harrison – Let it Roll (best of)
Duckworth Lewis Method
Dave Rawlings Machine - Friend of a Friend
Roy Orbison box set

Well it certainly turned out to be Bob Dylan’s year. Hot on the heels of the incredible Tell Tale Signs collection (plus countless more concerts, radio shows etc), he releases a surprisingly quickly turned around, yet sturdy new studio album; Together Through Life. I think I gave it a fairly middling to positive review at the time, however, it has grown on me since then, and the songs play well live.

The other main release of the year was of course, Bob Dylan’s Christmas in the Heart. Naturally, I’m joking. Not that Christmas in the Heart wasn’t enjoyable (as well as being very bizarre). His croakiest ever vocals(?) set to the most traditional Christmas arrangements you’re likely to hear!

No, the release of the year for me had to be the big Beatles box sets. I don’t think I got around to reviewing them at the time, perhaps daunted by being unable to think of anything new to say about the greatest body of work of all time (I would argue that the only individuals who can measure up to the Fabs’ seven year recording career would be the likes of Mahler, Beethoven, possibly Dylan, or the very best great writers, painters etc).
Anyway, that statement is quite enough hyperbole out of me for one year!
I made a few rough notes after my first few listens of the box sets, so here are some bullet points;

- Everything sounds extraordinary – like brand new recordings, even though these are only remasters and not remixes - the separation between the voices and between the instruments is now exceptional, not forgetting these recordings date back nearly 50 years
- In general I prefer the mono versions, especially albums like Revolver and Sgt Pepper. The White Album is very debatable, quite a big difference between the mono and stereo versions of many of it’s tracks
- Revolver – Eleanor Rigby really stands out, as does Got to Get You Into My Life. Also, For No One - I suggest you listen to the mono For No One loudly – I tried it just with my ear up against a speaker – Paul’s vocal is unbelievable – sounds like he’s right beside you
- Sgt Pepper is incredible. Especially in mono. Like most of these new versions, the album works well on all formats, but listening to it on headphones is SO revealing
- Basically, everything sounds better now. All your favourite bits, whether it be - the piano solo in In My Life, the sound of John and George’s voices duetting on You Really Got a Hold on Me, that strange organ sound on Beatles for Sale, the trumpet solo on Penny Lane, or the guitar solo on Something - they all sound clearer and punchier
- Help – a supposedly inferior album, now perhaps not so inferior?
- And my God, the quality of the backing vocals throughout the box sets are so good – one forgets that due to the happy coincidence of two random working class lads from Liverpool turning out to be two of the best ballad singers AND rock singers AND songwriters of all time, plus a good runner-up in George, plus excellent musicianship (Paul and George especially), plus the chemistry between the 4 of them, and the production; one can forget that John, Paul and George are all astonishing backing singers too, creating harmonies that for me, easily beat Crosby Stills & Nash, the Byrds, or the Band, or any of the 60s girl bands
- Some random things that sound better in stereo – I Am The Walrus, parts of Rubber Soul, the rockers on the first album, Michelle, plus possibly much of the Hard Days Night album, this most perfect pop album ringing through with their ever improving Rickenbacker guitar sound and those double tracked vocals. Feel free to skip straight through to If I Fell – boy does that song sound good!
- Finally, my advice is don’t get too hung up on the mono/stereo debate (perhaps I should take my own advice!). Just enjoy the music – if it’s your first time dipping your toes properly into the world I am envious; if you only have them on vinyl or the old CDs, it is very advisable to get the new ones, preferably BOTH box sets.

Otherwise 2009 was not really a vintage year for albums. Of the other discs I mentioned at the top of this piece, Madness punched well above their weight, and Wilco slightly below theirs. Also very enjoyable was the debut album from the 202s, a promising Dublin band (an interesting mix of electronica/indie rock/singer-songwriter, currently getting a lot of radio play and working on their 2nd album) – check them out on
The Dave Rawlings album was ok.
Finally, I don’t normally review live albums, and given the ease and quality of downloaded live recordings it seems the live album has become a devalued currency, but there were three of note this year;
R.E.M., Paul McCartney and Tom Waits. All pretty good, especially R.E.M., with their adventures in rehearsal/rarities from the Olympia a year or two back.


Bob Dylan – various shows; Liverpool, Glasgow, Dublin (1), New York (2)
Paul McCartney – O2 Dublin
Leonard Cohen – O2 Dublin (2nd night)
Bruce Springsteen – RDS Dublin (2nd night, although the drizzly 1st night was also good)
Wilco – Vicar St Dublin (both nights vg)
AC/DC – O2 Dublin
Ray Davies – Town Hall, New York
Lyle Lovett - Olympia, Dublin

A good year. I have already reviewed all or most of these concerts on my blog, so I won’t rake over old ground, but, really, McCartney and Cohen have to stand out. Two artists at career live peaks – giving unforgettable performances of very high emotional intensity. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who was at either.
Hard to believe they are pushing Bob down into 3rd place, given some of the Dylan highlights of the year – the new songs, the fact that he is spending considerable time back out at the front of the stage, a reinvigorated band etc. Plus his tribute to George Harrison in Liverpool (playing Something).
And it’s also fair to say Wilco, Bruce and AC/DC (in the 02) gave excellent performances in Dublin. And I was delighted to finally see a Lyle Lovett show.
Saw the 202s in The Academy, an excellent new band (as mentioned in the album section) in a very good Dublin venue.
I didn’t go to many classical performances this year, I only seem to remember a piano/violin type trio doing Schumann in the Hugh Lane Gallery, which was enjoyable and free! Also free, was the only Festival I think I went to in 2009, the ever enjoyable Dun Laoghaire Festival of World Cultures.
I don’t really remember any poor concerts at all in 2009, perhaps because I didn’t go to as many as in previous years. I doubt 2010 will be as good, but here’s hoping.


An Education
Gran Torino
Sherlock Holmes
Dean Spanley
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
The Hangover
Glorious 39
Star Trek
Inglorious Basterds
The Young Victoria
The Reader
The Changeling
Cadillac Records

Sherlock Holmes really was surprisingly good. Who’d have thought Guy Ritchie would make a decent film, and a decent period film at that? Downey Jnr is not bad as Holmes it’s fair to say and it IS an exciting film, with a good support performance by Jude Law (I don’t think I’ve ever said that before!) and a good (if silly) plot and excellent visuals. My only complaints are;
- It’s just a little too over the top for my tastes – as a big Holmes fan I’ve no particular problem with them messing with the books, but they could have cut a few of the action scenes.
- Robert Downey Jnr’s accent/dialogue coach should be shot!

Gran Torino was yet another top notch Clint Eastwood film - that must be about 6 or 7 very good films in a row from the aging director. And let’s not forget his acting– with a fine performance (his last?) from the man himself in this one.

Dr Parnassus was enjoyable. A bit of a mess, but not deserving the critical mauling it got.

Glorious 39 was a bit of a hotch potch of genres, but a beautifully atmospheric pre WW2 drama by Stephen Poliakaff. Very well acted and thought provoking, it's certainly not flawless, but I thought it was the most underrated film of the year.

Two films I never thought would make a list of mine as they are genres I don’t usually bother with, but Up was a charming cartoon and The Hangover a truly funny gross out comedy which had more good lines than any comedy I can remember in recent years. PLUS it also worked as a good thriller, ie you really wanted to know what the hell happened to those guys!

Other films I loved this year included; Inglorious Basterds (riotous WW2 Tarantino flic), District 9, The Young Victoria and an enjoyable re-imagining of Star Trek.

But I think my favourite film of the year for me was An Education. This was a classic period film set in the early 60s, ie 50s London on the cusp of swinging 60s London. It is a biopic based on the journalist Lynn Barber’s autobiography, with a standout performance from Carey Mulligan in the lead role.
I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten a few other films, not a bad film for cinema, all in.. Here are some films I loved but I'm not quite sure if they were 2008 or 2009; The Wrestler, Slumdog Millionnaire, Vicky Christina Barcelona.
And here are some 2009 films I regret that I haven't seen yet; White Ribbon, Katyn, Let the Right One In, Avatar, Moon, Anvil.


Last Days of a Reluctant Tyrant – Abbey Theatre
Present Laughter – Gate Theatre
2 short Brian Friel Plays – Gate Theatre
All My Sons - Gate Theatre

Not too many theatre trips for me this year, and those I went too I mostly reviewed earlier in the year, so feel free to scroll back to earlier parts of my blog. I saw one or two turkeys (including a disappointing Shakespeare at the Nat. Theatre in London), but the four mentioned above were all extremely good. The Birds at the Gate, as adapted by Conor McPherson and with a good cast, was a bit of a curate's egg at best.


Corot-Monet Landscapes – National Gallery London
Vermeer – MET, New York
Baroque - V&A
Rodchenko & Popova - Tate Modern
Waterhouse – Royal Academy
Dylan Drawn Blank Series - Birmingham

I didn’t go to too many art exhibitions this year, despite attending an enjoyable History of Art course in the Autumn, but the few I've listed were very enjoyable, especially the first two. Less so, was the Munch exhibition in our National Gallery. Nothing against Munch, but black and white prints can be quite dull. I also went to the Bacon thing in the Hugh Lane, which did it’s best to change my opinion that he was only a chancer, and somewhat over rated. Still not sure really. I also visited the Frick in New York for the first time (very good), and Kenwood House near Hampstead Heath, which has a nice collection too.


I watched very little television this year, mainly because I haven’t the foggiest how to use my DVD recorder. But such is life.
The only thing I can really remember is Into the Storm, a follow up to The Gathering Storm, a TV biopic of Churchill. For some reason it just wasn’t quite as good as the first one, but credit to Gleeson for successfully taking on the role which Albert Finney did so well earlier.
Was Little Dorrit this year? A terrific follow up from Bleak House.
Sport wise, it was a great year for Irish rugby – watching Ireland finally win a Grand Slam was unforgettable.
I saw a few episodes of 30 Rock, a very funny new American comedy written by Tina Fey. Hoping to catch up on things like Cold Blood (vampire thing?) and The Wire next year. Finally finished all the box sets of Foyle's War, classic WW2 drama.

Personally, it was an interesting year. Quite a few highs, and some lows. One example of each?
Low - Getting burgled.
High - Running over the finish line of the Dublin Marathon in just under 4 hours. Is it really possible to be a complete physical and emotional wreck, and yet feel such elation, all at the exact same time? Will I ever feel a buzz like that again? Who knows, but I can only try..
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Paul McCartney Review, the 02, Dublin 20 December 2009

I’ve been saying to myself recently that I need to cut out the superlatives in my gig reviews. Either that, or start going to some bad ones!
Hardly surprising then, that Paul McCartney in the 02 (Dublin) was emphatically NOT a bad gig.
Having queued for a couple of hours in the sub zero Arctic wasteland that was the Dublin docklands yesterday, we got a nice spot about 3rd row centre, and waited for our feet to thaw out, and for a Beatle to appear before our eyes. Then, sure enough, just about 8.15, one appeared. And a very healthy looking Beatle it was too. McCartney is in amazing shape for 68, and makes a good case for the benefits of vegetarianism!
But, of course, our main concerns were more his vocal chords and musicianship, and it’s safe to say these are even healthier.
From the opening moments of Magical Mystery Tour (‘Roll Up, Roll Up..’) through to the closing lines of the show (‘The Love you Take, is equal to the Love you Make’), the strength of McCartney’s performance never wavered. Of the 4 or 5 Macca shows I’ve seen, this was surely the best. Just a perfect occasion, great venue, great sound, great atmosphere, an almost flawless concert.

It’s hard to describe how emotional a Paul McCartney show is. I think it is just how much we all have those songs in our heads, and how they are such a part of the landscape. Also the fact that the Beatles never toured after ’66 has raised the importance of seeing the songs now in conditions much better than in the 60s (better sound etc, plus great arrangements and performance). I was born shortly after the Beatles broke up, so for me it is not direct nostalgia, as I fell in love with their awesome body of work as a child in the 1970s, and indeed at 37 years old, I was far from being one of the youngest in the 02 last night. I think it’s true to say there is a shared universality to the Beatles music that has an extraordinary effect at a McCartney concert – eg I heard one male radio presenter this morning saying how he was in tears on at least 4 occasions!

Anyway, in case I’m getting carried away, I’ll come back down to earth and do a bit of regular song-by-song reviewing;
- Magical Mystery Tour is his best opener, just seems to work well, nice background imagery on the big screens
- Drive My Car – sometimes played as opener, a classic rocker from Rubber Soul, also works well in slot 2
- Jet – catchy slice of Wings pop, not a favourite of mine, but goes down well
- Only Mama Knows – it’s a pity he abandons his albums so quickly, and why does he ignore the best song from ‘Memory Almost Full’ (Mr Bellamy)? However, Only Mama Knows is a good rocker, and works great live. While I’m having a ‘go’ at the setlist – I also regret that he has 100% abandoned the ‘Chaos and Creation’ album (2005). Arguably his best album since the 70s.
- Flaming Pie – he still does the occasional song from this decent album, and the title track is as good as any
- Got to get you into my Life – after two relatively unknown songs, the crowd go wild for this song – the big brass part is a good hook at a live gig, played of course by Wix Wickens, a key band member. Every unusual sound you hear at a McCartney concert is played by him – at one point on Sunday I spotted him simultaneously playing a keyboard part with his hands and a trumpet part with his mouth via a device attached to his head! Apart from the colouring provided by Wix though, credit is due to McCartney and his band, for not relying on over the top arrangements – these guys manage to breathe new life into the Beatles songs, yet still keep things relatively simple. The guitar players and (especially) the drummer, all get the thumbs up from me
- Let Me Roll It – competent and powerful, but I’d say it would get tiresome if one went to multiple Macca gigs
- Highway – first of two bloody excellent songs from the experimental Fireman album. These really work well, and fit in nicely to the setlist
- Long and Winding Road – I suppose (other than the opening song for impact), this was the first really big emotional heavy hitter of the evening. One of those songs that he has done every single concert since God knows when, but you would never know it.
- I Want to Come Home. Brand new song. ‘’Classic Macca ballad’’ are my early thoughts. Evidence of his melodic genius, lyrically nothing unusual.
- My Love. Classic 70s power ballad, tonight with a heartfelt tribute from Macca to Henry McCullough (in the audience), who played the famous guitar solo back in the day.
- Blackbird. Stunning solo acoustic performance, both guitar wise and vocally.
- Here Today. The John tribute. In truth, not really a great song (1982), but genuine all the same
- Dance Tonight. When I first heard this one, I thought ‘surely a song as bad as that can’t be that catchy!’, but my feet were tapping on Sunday night, despite myself.
- And I Love Her. Nice semi acoustic arrangement.
- Eleanor Rigby. Always powerful. A nice low key arrangement with backing vocals and strings (via keyboard). If anyone says to you McCartney doesn’t write good lyrics, play them this song. Or Penny Lane.
- Something. Paul really does play a great version of this, night after night. Having seen Bob Dylan play it in Liverpool this year, I thought I’d never experience anything like that again, but watching McCartney on stage, with those pictures of George on the big screen, as the guitar player plays a lovely version of the famous solo, it came close.
- Mrs Vandebilt. McCartney gets a bit of criticism for not changing his setlists much, but to be fair, every new tour, he does add in a few new ones, and a few re-introduced Beatles or Wings numbers. This is one of my favourite Wings songs, so I was ecstatic to hear it. A truly excellent arrangement, works very well, and the crowd loved it despite it not being overly familiar to everyone.
- Sing the Changes. Another Fireman song. Very uplifting.
- Wonderful Christmas Time. Well, being 20 December, no big surprise. I’m sure even Macca wouldn’t claim it to be a classic, but good fun on the night
- Band on the Run. Always good.
- Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da. Not his greatest Beatles composition, but who’s going to complain with a White Album tune world premiere (ie, premiered this tour). Also, it works well live, and the arrangement is very reggaefied and uptempo
- Back in the USSR. Amazing rocker, night after night, which perfectly exemplifies the tightness of this band
- I’ve Got a Feeling. Was great to see this introduced a few years ago. Nice dirty riff, showing off the rootsy feel of the Let it Be album
- Paperback Writer. One of the highlights of the show for me. Such a good song, and I think, one of 7 or 8 new ones for me, at this show.
- A Day in the Life / Give Peace a Chance. So good to see him tackle the John verses on this classic Lennon/McCartney song, not an overblown version either (Neil Young, I’m looking at you!), semi acoustic, with some use of effects for the transitional sections, segueing cheesily if effectively, into Give Peace a Chance
- Let it Be. Another emotional showstopper. No other words come to mind.
- Live and Let Die. Ok, the only out and out major showbiz type performance of the night, with massive explosions and pyrotechnics (down the front you could feel the rush of heat from the fire!), but massively enjoyable, not to mention appropriate, for this over the top rock opera type Bond number.
- Hey Jude – a great song, even if the singalong bit has been done to death, but very enjoyable, and brings the main set to a close.
- Day Tripper. Another debut for me. Nicely done.
- Lady Madonna – not a song I’m crazy about for some reason, but the crowd love it as Paul plays some nice rocking piano
- Get Back – popular rootsy rocker
- Yesterday. An ever so slightly over rated song in my opinion, but boy does he play it well
- Helter Skelter - clever putting it just after Yesterday, as these two songs showcase the two extremes of McCartney – from gentle ballad to the loudest out and out rocker in the Beatles canon. If truth be told it’s probably not a very good song, but is quite unique and works well in the encores.
- Sgt Peppers / The End. He’s been playing these two together for years now, and they are always a stunning conclusion, encompassing a great band performance, and finishing with the famous lines about the love you take, etc.. Almost 3 hours later, it’s a fitting end to a show we may not see the likes of again. Happy Days. And Happy Christmas!