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Paul McCartney gig: so that's what Beatlemania felt like

I must confess, when I first heard Sir Paul McCartney was coming to perform in Abu Dhabi at the Formula One Grand Prix, I was less than enthusiastic. I didn't have a race ticket for a start, and expected he'd do a good job of performing his solo works and Wings songs - of which I am not a big fan - with just a sprinkling of Beatles tunes. But as the time drew nearer, amid speculation that he would devote at least half of his set to Beatles songs - of which I am a massive fan - I decided I had to go and see him. The man's not getting any younger and I don't know if I'll ever have the chance to see an ex-Beatle perform live (not sure I'd bother with Ringo).

And so began the quest for a ticket. I was not prepared to shell out around Dh1,800 for a weekend race pass just for one concert, so on Sunday night I was prepared to head to Yas Island to beg, borrow or steal - or pay a few dirhams - for someone's pass.

Happily, at the 11th hour, a colleague to whom I will be forever indebted called to say I could have her race tickets, so I was spared any embarrassment or jail time.

And so the race was on, to meet my colleague to pick up the tickets and to wait for my friend to buy shoes (she'd locked herself out of the house in her slippers).

Finally, passes in hand and with just moments to spare, we made it to Yas Arena to wait for Sir Paul.

He began his set with the uptempo Beatles classic Hello, Goodbye, and the next hour was a mix of Wings, solo songs (many of which I was not familiar with, and some that rang a bell), and a peppering of early Beatles numbers. And McCartney saying "shukran" rather a lot.

It was fun. People were singing and dancing along and I was having a good time, but all the while wondering whether he'd play any of my favourites. The acoustic Blackbird (one of my all-time favourites, as my dad used to play it to me when I was a little girl) was a little ruined for me, as the crowd's chatter drowned it out somewhat.

But the turning point came when he played beautiful renditions of Eleanor Rigby and Something. By the time he played A Day in the Life and Yesterday, I was blubbering like a baby, a combination of the realisation that a real, live Beatle was performing songs I have loved for decades, and a sadness that certain friends and family couldn't be there to share the experience. I pulled myself together, though, and McCartney went on to do not one but two encores, ending with the high-energy Helter Skelter and Golden Slumbers/Carry that Weight/The End. It was indeed a fitting end to a perfect night.

That Macca is still going so strong at 70 is amazing and I can now understand why girls used to scream, cry and faint back in the 1960s. I can't believe I almost missed out on this truly memorable night, of fabulous music surrounded by great friends. With what I know now, I'd happily have parted with Dh1,800 just for those two hours with him.

Last Updated: 11/16/11 07:10
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News Summary

when I first heard Sir Paul McCartney was coming to perform in Abu Dhabi at the Formula One Grand Prix, I was less than enthusiastic. I didn't have a race ticket for a start, and expected he'd do a good job of performing his solo works and Wings songs - of which I am not a big fan - with just a sprinkling of Beatles tunes. But as the time drew nearer, amid speculation that he would devote at least half of his set to Beatles songs - of which I am a massive fan - I decided I had to go and see him. The man's not getting any younger and I don't know if I'll ever have the chance to see an ex-Beatle perform live (not sure I'd bother with Ringo).