Will Paul McCartney still be on stage at 90? I bet he will try: Beatles biographer HUNTER DAVIES on a tear-jerking performance from a living legend
It was a tease of course. He was pacing himself, knowing what was to come, the fireworks and special guests, saving his voice and body so it would last the whole two hours.
In your eighties, as I know only too well, you mustn’t rush things. You might dry up, get confused or fall over.
Paul never thought he would last this long. In the Sixties I remember him and John being unable to imagine performing in their thirties. The notion was grotesque.
So what would they be doing? John presumed he would be a bum, like his Dad. Paul envisaged becoming a teacher. When Paul wrote When I’m Sixty Four, the idea of anyone being 64 was mythical, the oldest he could think of anyone ever being. At the time he was only 16.
Now look at him. Especially when he eventually took his jacket off. ‘The only wardrobe change this evening.’
A good joke. Well, as jokes go, at live open air concerts. The songs, especially his own classics, were fab. OK, so he cannot quite reach all the high notes and gets a bit croaky on the low notes.
He was wise not to attempt Yesterday. That has to be a solo, with no effects, and would have given away his age.
Mr Kite was probably a mistake. His heart did not seem in it. It is a John song, which needed John’s voice.
But when he did a George song, Something, playing a ukulele which George gave him, that was funny and touching.
He was just beginning to wilt slightly when he was joined by two guests – Dave something from I think the Poo Fighters, whose name I never got – and then Bruce Springsteen. Wow, what a surprise. Bruce was clearly thrilled to be there, even for just a couple of songs.
They immediately had a rejuvenating effect. Paul always liked singing with John, trying to impress each other.
At the O2, a year or two ago, he had no help on stage with the singing, though a pipe band in kilts suddenly arrived to play Mull of Kintyre. I think that might have been wasted on a Glasto audience.
I did ask him at a family party afterwards how he had managed two hours without a break.
‘Drugs,’ he said. I took that as a joke. Anyone watching him live on Saturday must have seen how fit and healthy he is for 80. Lucky beggar.
I did notice him though having one swig of water. What a cheater.
Her Majesty, when she did a two-hour session giving out honours, never had a drink. Or so I observed six years ago. At the young age of 90.
Will Paul still be performing at 90? I bet he will try. It’s what he enjoys most. He began Wings because he wanted to go on stage again when the Beatles packed up.
At the end after brilliant, belting performances of Lady Madonna, Hey Jude, Helter Skelter, Get Back, I had tears in my eyes. No really, what a softy.
Not just for days gone by, and memories and images of Paul as he was in the Sixties.
Or thoughts of my own life and memories and mortality. But tears of gratitude.
We are so lucky to have had the Beatles in our lifetime. And to have Paul still with us. Still pleasing us. Still pleasing himself…
Hunter Davies is the author of The Beatles, the only authorised biography