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When we arrived (bright and sunny weather) the first thing I noticed was how much the trees had grown since I was last there! There was a van parked outside of Paul's gate and two workmen were cleaning graffiti from the gate and walls of Paul's house. Why do people do that? I know that fans have long written things on the wall & signs at Abbey Road but writing on the wall and gates of Paul's home? That is absolutely wrong - no excuse for it at all. Some of the graffiti had been so unthoughtfully left by "fans" that the guys had to take an abrasive wheel to the stonework to remove it. It's sad that people who claim that they love Paul can inflict something on him and his family, which is clearly unwanted. A sign of real selfishness on the part of the fans.
While I waited outside Paul's, Dennis, Jamie (Dennis' son) and Gav (Jamie's
friend) decided to walk round to Abbey Road and do the almost obligatory
picture on the crossing. I did that a long time ago so
waiting outside of Paul's wasn't a hardship.
While I was waiting I got chatting to a couple of guys who had been waiting to see Paul since mid-morning. One guy, (also called Paul - I'll call him PF for Paul fan), told me that there had been no sign of life at all in the house while he had been there, but he presumed that someone must be home as the workmen had access to water for their high pressure hoses and they also had the keys to the security gate (which also seemed to have been damaged by fans). The lock on the gate seemed to be faulty and the guys took a good 30 minutes to repair it to their satisfaction. Hopefully that hadn't been damaged by fans!
PF said that the last time he had been there was the day when Paul had
been knighted. He had got there really early and had been waiting patiently
when Mary came out of the gates and turned to walk towards Lord's Cricket
Ground. She wished him Good Morning and as she walked away a voice had
called out (from over the street), words to the effect of "Oi! Do I not
get a kiss from my daughter in the morning?"
It was Paul and he emerged from a house slightly to the right of his own on the opposite side of the street. They met in the middle of the street and kissed and hugged each other before Mary turned and walked down the street again and Paul came back towards his house.
He said "Morning!" and the two guys who were there asked if he would sign a couple of things and he said that he would - if they would then leave straight away. They agreed to that. One guy had a Sergeant Pepper cover which Paul sign "Paul McCartney" on the reverse. The guy asked if he would sign it on the front cover rather than the reverse and Paul told him that he wouldn't " as people just sell 'em". PF produced a 10"x8" picture of Paul and asked him to sign that. Paul signed "Paul McCartney" and as he gave him it back PF asked if Paul would pose with him for a picture. Paul shook his head and said "Nope!" and then walked into the house, closing the gates behind him.
Anyway... I digress in a fairly major way!!!
While we were chatting, a traffic warden (definitely not Rita!) walked
up the street and noticed that my car (parked more or less opposite Paul's)
did not have a Resident's Parking Permit in the window. I
explained that we were leaving soon and could he please go and book someone else's car for 15 minutes...? Please? So... he did!!! Hee Hee!! We finished off our conversation with PF and went to get some lunch - I had asked the traffic warden where a good place to get lunch was. (We eventually went to The Duke of York pub approx. 500 yards away. Good food - great price! - if anyone needs directions, please feel free to write.) There is also a secure car park nearby (which is pretty well hidden) if anyone is planning on looking around the area and not wanting to be worried about traffic wardens.)
Coming back from lunch we passed Paul's again and there was no sign of anyone although there were three cars visible through an occasionally opened gate. There was a soft-top green jeep (James'? - maybe Jorie can confirm that one?) (Note from Gail - I also saw that green Jeep inside the gates the spring when James had hurt himself doing field stunts in Rye!) ; aK registered metallic green Mercedes Benz; and a dark coloured VW Golf. None of the cars had private registrations and I won't post the registrations to the list.
>From there we headed for the Albert Hall. I had reserved a parking place in the car park nearby --I'm pleased I did as the parking space was very limited. Driving through London is not one of the things I would choose to do for pleasure and it took around 30 minutes in busy traffic to make the trip across town.
After a short walk to the Hall itself we mooched around looking at all
of the trucks and world's press who had gathered. Talking to a couple of
folks waiting outside of the stage door, we found out that Paul had
arrived around 2.45 and had been hustled inside by some big minders. He hadn't greeted anyone and had looked "pretty serious" as he quickly walked into the hall between the security people. There were several disappointed faces. As we walked around the front of the building, we saw Paul's Mercedes parked behind some low security fencing. It was within easy arm's reach of a lot of the gathered onlookers although I wonder how many of them realised it was Paul's car.
After a wait of around 20 minutes, the doors opened at 6.45 and in we
went. There was another delay before we were allowed to enter the auditorium.
We took the opportunity to browse through the £10 ($16)
programme for the evening. "Lots of adverts and not a lot else" - was the general verdict of the folks around us - and me too. Dark green T-shirts featuring the Music for Montserrat logo (a lizard of some type) were selling merrily at £12 each (approx. $19). (Interestingly they featured the name of Mick Hucknall from Simply Red - who thankfully didn't appear!!! Phew!)
After a delay of around 15 minutes we got to go to our seats, and oxygen masks were not supplied. We were high!!! The view of the stage was pretty good although to see some sections of it I had to crane my neck a little. But never mind...
At around 7.45 p.m. things started to happen as George Martin strode
onto the side of the stage and delivered (pretty much exactly as it appeared
in the programme) a short speech about Montserrat and it's
people. (He read it from a teleprompter at his feet.).
The first he introduced was a Montserratian artist called Arrow, "an artist whose recording history has been a series of groundbreaking events." Hmmm. Yeah O.K. He came on with his band and sang two numbers - only one of which anyone had heard of - a song called "Hot Hot Hot". He was O.K. and his band were pretty tight but it felt like this was a fairly average starter for what was promised to be a luscious banquet.
Next up was Midge Ure. Midge is a Scottish artist who was one of the main driving forces behind Live Aid back in the mid-80's. He looked a little nervous but soon settled into two songs. "Dancing with Tears in my Eyes" & "Vienna". Someone close to me offered the opinion that it was probably just as well he wasn't allowed to do another song as they were "the only two hits he's had."
Next up - Carl Perkins. He was simply terrific. A real legend - wearing
his blue suede shoes and rocking like he was 20 years old. He sang Matchbox
and Blue Suede Shoes. I should mention here that the backing band for much
of the evening included Robbie McIntosh and and Chris "Wix" Wickens. Carl
looked to be having a whale of a time. Thank goodness he didn't hear the
comment of the American guy behind me who was heard to say (a little too
loudly!) "Hey! I thought that Elvis wrote that song!" (Blue Suede Shoes).
There were several pairs of raised eyebrows and unuttered wonderings of
where this particular guy had been. What do they teach in American schools?
<g> The guy's companion rejoined
with. "What? Elvis wrote S**T!! Didn't you know that? He just sang them!" Anyway, Carl was great.
Next up (I think) was Jimmy Buffet. Now what can I say about
him... ? Well, he regaled us all with stories of how wonderful it was for
him to "live most of his time in the Caribbean" and how he has "lots of
friends" and that this was "the first time he had performed in Europe". This guy could bore for his country. I think he was confusing us with people who were remotely interested!!! <g> He played two tunes; one of
which I mostly missed as I took the opportunity to (what is euphemistically called) visit the bathroom. Anyway, after a quick 'bath' I returned to hear him conclude what sounded like a so-so song. He followed this with a ditty called "I don't know what I'm going to do when the Volcano blows" - can you guess what the chorus was? That was a jolly little ditty which I'm sure brought much comfort to those Montserratians who have been made homeless by the volcano. By the time he was finished I was left with the feeling that if he played in my back garden I may well close the curtains. Not impressive (personal opinion here) at all. If you like him fine, I respect that but he's not my cup of tea nor, that of many people at the Albert Hall. Don't hurry back Jimmy.
Next up before the interval; Phil Collins. Phil, who likes to
portray himself as the likeable cheery chappy, did nothing to disperse
that image - he was very professional and worked the crowd well. He performed
"In The Air Tonight" and "Take Me Home" before disappearing and leaving us all to a 15 minute intermission.
First up after that was Mark Knopfler (formerly of Dire Straits).
This guy can play the guitar seriously well IMO. He performed "Theme from
Local Hero"; "Brothers In Arms" which he mumbled his way through -
spoiling it a little. It is a very powerful song, but so much of it depends on listening to and understanding the lyrics. When the lyrics are inaudible then that element is lost. Disappointing. Mark's last song
- "Money For Nothing" featured Sting on backing vocals. Sting didn't sing the same notes as the released version and opted to come in an octave lower. Eric Clapton sneaked on in the background - initially
unannounced and took up station behind Mark Knopfler. Any band with Eric Clapton on rhythm guitar has to be good! They produced a great version of the song before leaving the stage to the roadies.
Next was Sting.. wearing the nicest suit of the evening. He played "Walking On The Moon"; "Fields of Gold" & "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic". I read the comment on the list about Sting's voice sounding thin but he sounded O.K. to me - it's just what he does and how he does it. He was slick if a little lacking in emotion. It seemed like he was just "trotting" the songs out. 'Could do better' as they say at school. <gg>
Taking the stage next was Elton John who was given a rapturous
greeting. I hesitate to suggest it but maybe part of it was as a result
of his moving contribution to the funeral of our Princess recently. Elton
motioned for people to sit down again as he moved into his first song "Your Song". He followed this with a song of his which I hadn't heard before "Live Like Horses" - good song. His final song was "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" - this has to be one of the all-time great songs. It seems to fit so many different situations and emotions and I'm sure those who listened all had their own situations to fit a very beautiful
song. Elton had always been one of those performers who, to me, was clearly massively talented but who I rarely listened to. His performance at the Montserrat concert was majestic. One of the greats of popular
Next was Eric Clapton - introduced by Carl Perkins. I have been aware of Eric from his early days in the Yardbirds; through Cream etc and he is clearly massively gifted. His guitar playing although technically superb leaves me a little cold. He just doesn't move me in a way that people like Mark Knopfler or Paul Kossoff (remember him?) can. The kind of lead guitar he plays (lots of notes in a short space of time), seem to belong to a bygone age of rock where the quality of a song was determined for many by the length of guitar solo. Please don't think I am dismissing Eric - absolutely not - I happen to think that "Tears In heaven" (which he wrote for his little boy Conor who died so tragically) is one of the best songs every written and those who know me know I don't say that lightly. Eric played 3 songs. The first, called (?) Wild Wind was accoustic as was his version of Layla - played with Mark Knopfler. His final song was a blues based heavy riff song with lots of twiddly guitar bits and facial contortions. Great for those that love that kind of thing. The Eric fan next to me could have died happily at that moment!
After Eric left the stage there was a growing air of antici......pation
in the hall. There was only one person left who we hadn't seen. Our Paul.
After a warm introduction by George Martin, in which he referred
to Paul as his "buddy"; his "pal"; his "true friend", the words "Paul
McCartney!!" were almost drowned out by the huge welcome as
he strode out onto the stage. My thoughts were with those list members
not be at the event. As Paul acknowledged the audiences applause I sniffed as deeply as I could to try and see what he smelt like (just in case Jennifer should ask!) but only succeeded in breathing in a whiff of
the woman in front's perfume. Not quite what Jen would want to know... but hey! I tried!!!
As Paul picked up his accoustic things the hall went quiet with expectation
and hope. He didn't let us down. (Does he ever?) From the moment
the first chord of "Yesterday" rang out we knew that we were in
the presence of true genius. That shiver down the spine that tells you that this person and song are something special.
As the final note died - the hall erupted. Some women at the front ran and threw roses at his feet (which he looked a little embarrassed at, I thought.) He picked up a single stem and as he acknowledged the applause he held it up in the air. Expect to see that photo before too long if you haven't already. He wandered over to the piano as others (Phil Collins; Sting; Eric Clapton; Mark Knopfler; Elton John etc came on stage to join him. Gently, Paul played the chords to Golden Slumbers and the entire Albert Hall were in his hands. Video close up showed that he was beginning to relax and feel more comfortable with things. The entire medley was played all the way through to "And in the End, The Love you Take, Is equal to the Love you make." Once again, it seemed the applause would bring the Albert Hall crumbling down. I don't imagine Queen Victoria ever envisaged something like this!!! (Thank goodness!) Paul and the band then played "Hey Jude" which was supposed to signal the end of events. The audience however brought them back for a rousing version of Kansas City. Terrific!
How did Paul look? I thought he looked pretty good! He looked fit and healthy - sporting a short hair cut . The look of early nerves soon disappeared and, as the video screens showed he was having a great time. His glances to the other band members confirmed that. I think Lynn has already written about what he was wearing - I don't know if she was any closer and could smell him though.
All too soon however the music had finished and the artists were bidding
their farewells. Then all that was left to us was to wend our way out of
the hall back to the car for the 300 mile journey home. The concert
started at 7.45 p.m. and we finally left the hall at around 11.30 p.m.
It was a long journey home.
Oh yeah! - I just remembered - there was a gospel choir whose lead vocalist
sang "Bridge Over Troubled Water". I love gospel music but this was not
the greatest version I've heard. I just hope Paul Simon wasn't
Well, that's it folks. My "review" of the Montserrat show and a couple of extras. Hope it was good for you too.
Turned out nice again? Colin