It’d be easy to make 68-year-old dad-rocking former Beatle Paul McCartney sound ridiculous – he can’t resist lifting his guitar in the air at the end of every song (even when it’s actually a mandolin), he boogies on the spot, pointed fingers aloft like an embarrassing uncle and later he’s an Englishman waving a giant Saltire. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean that it’s right. In fact, over a remarkable three hours McCartney energetically runs through some of the best pop music that the world has ever seen. A dynamo in blue shirt and white braces (they make another Saltire on his back), he’s a cruise missile of crowd-pleasing.
Even his most unfashionable hits – a giant cheesy version of ‘Mull of Kintyre’ complete with the Loretto school pipe band and (yet another) giant Saltire in the background, a stadium-sized singalong to ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ – are far more enjoyable than it’s ok to admit in polite company.
Between songs there’s plenty of love for the Scottish crowd, but also some fantastic anecdotes. Few other acts could tell the story of how they “had the good fortune” to know Jimi Hendrix. “We put out Sgt Pepper on the Friday night,” says McCartney, after a growling rendition of the riff from ‘Foxy Lady’, “on the Sunday I went to see Jimi live. He’d learned the whole thing and opened with ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. It was the greatest compliment he could’ve paid me.” Thanks to Jimi’s enthusiastic use of the whammy bar, McCartney continues, his guitar was dreadfully out of tune, so he started scanning the audience for Eric Clapton, who was desperately trying to duck out of sight. There’s a big natural guffaw as McCartney recalls Clapton’s horrified face.
That’s all before he brings out the really big guns. Starting with ‘Eleanor Rigby’, the last 19 songs (of a truly massive 37) really show the depth of back catalogue that this living legend has to draw on. Pummelled with classic after classic – ‘Something’ (played as a big-lump-in-the-throat George Harrison tribute), ‘Back in the U.S.S.R.’, ‘I’ve Got a Feeling’, ‘Paperback Writer, ‘Let It Be’, ‘Hey Jude’ – you’re left wondering what he could possibly have left for an encore. A musically, and literally, explosive version of one of Bond's best themes ‘Live And Let Die’, which is surrounded by spectacular pyrotechnics, is the kind of finale lesser acts would actually die for.
Yet as McCartney returns for the encore, correctly assessing that “I get the feeling you guys want to keep rocking”, he’s well capable of giving tens of thousands of Scots exactly what they desire. Over two encores he’s still got a thrashing ‘Helter Skelter’, a heartstrings-tugging ‘Yesterday’ and a howling ‘Get Back’ up his sleeve.Apologising for leaving – “We’ve got to go home some time. You’ve got to go home some time” – he finishes up with an apposite medley of ‘Sgt. Pepper’ (“We’d like to thank you once again”) and ‘The End’. As the (naturally blue and white) ticker tape drowns the front row, we’re left in no doubt that we’re being sent back to our beds. Although you get the feeling McCartney was right and Glasgow could’ve gone all night, not a single member of the audience, which ranges from six to 64 and well beyond, could possibly feel short changed.