The latest trip for Mrs Brown (Kathie Touin) and I took us back to Glasgow – for our second visit of 2018 – to see Paul McCartney in concert. Kathie had seen him before, many years ago in the States, but I had never seen Paul, or any of The Beatles.
It was a fantastic, brilliant, wonderful, exciting, life-affirming concert. In fact, Kathie thinks it is probably the best gig she has seen. Ever. It must be right up there.
An idea has grown up in the last 20 or 30 years that John Lennon was the most talented songwriter of The Beatles, while Paul McCartney only created silly throwaway songs. It’s an argument that, I believe, is wrong – and it also ignores the claims of George Harrison.
Why has this idea come about? In part, I think, because John Lennon was murdered, at a relatively young age, and so people began to idealise him. To be clear, I’m not denying that Lennon wrote some great songs and that he was a force for good in the world, albeit that he was a flawed character (like the rest of us).
Also, this anti-Paul idea has grown because he has been regularly making music and releasing records for almost 60 years – any artist will produce some duff tracks in that time.
But take a look at this set list from the concert we saw – at the SSE Hydro on Friday 14 December 2018 – a concert that was just shy of three-hours long during which time, apart from the break before the encore, Paul McCartney never left the stage. I wish I had that much energy now, never mind at his age of 76…
Hard Day’s Night
Can’t Buy Me Love
Got To Get You Into My Life
Come On To Me
Let Me Roll It (+ Foxy Lady)
I’ve Got A Feeling
Let ‘Em In
Nineteen-hundred And Eighty Five
Maybe I’m Amazed
We Can Work It Out
In Spite Of All The Danger
From Me To You
Love Me Do
Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite
Band On The Run
Back In The USSR
Let It Be
Live And Let Live
Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End
Had he chosen, he could have programmed another concert equally as long, with a completely different set list of his own great songs.
Actually, the sharp-eyed among you will notice that two of the songs in the set are not by McCartney – he played John Lennon’s Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite and George Harrison’s Something, starting the latter on ukulele, a favourite instrument of George’s.
And there was a dash of Jimi Hendrix’s Foxy Lady at the end of Let Me Roll It. Paul told stories and paid tributes during the concert to The Beatles and producer George Martin, but interestingly Hendrix was the only non-Beatle referred to.
Paul McCartney has a fantastic band to accompany him and one that he has now played with for 15 years – longer than The Beatles were together, though admittedly their time was more concentrated.
The band are Brian Ray (guitars and, when Paul is playing other instruments, bass), Rusty Anderson (guitars), Paul Wickens (keyboards and other instruments) and Abe Laboriel Jr (drums). Paul plays bass, as well as acoustic and electric guitars, ukulele, grand piano and upright piano. For some songs there was also a three-part brass section which first appeared in the middle of the audience before going on to the stage.
The sound was loud, of course, but crystal clear and perhaps for this reason I did not leave with ringing ears. The lights and big-screen projections were amazing, everything from photographs of The Beatles to an animated Sgt Pepper’s album cover.
Kathie – I must get her to write her own blog about the evening – thought it had a slight feeling of a farewell tour though it has not been billed as such and there are more Freshen Up tour gigs to come in 2019 in the United States.
Well, whatever, we will not get too many more chances to see the great man in action. So thank you, Sir Paul, for a wonderful evening – and for the great songs.
Some other highlights and happenings from our Glasgow trip…
Our flight to Glasgow was the first time, I believe, that I had flown out of Orkney in the dark – previous departures have all been in the daylight.
Orkney has wonderful wildlife but we are missing some of the more common sights from mainland Britain. So we loved spotting long-tailed tits in a Glasgow park, and magpies poking about in the street. Incidentally, a bird-expert friend of mine believes it will not be too many years before magpies are nesting in Orkney.
On a walk one morning we passed HMS Graham – a building, not a ship, which the plaque tells us was the headquarters of the Clyde Division of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and the Royal Naval Reserve from 1906 to 1993.
A little farther along our walk, and very close to Rangers’ ground Ibrox Park, we passed the Louden Tavern – clearly from its blue-and-white paint a Rangers pub but with heavy-duty doors and no glass or windows. Scary. I think I will stay away from Rangers v Celtic games.
Just round the corner we came to Ibrox station and so my first ride on the Glasgow subway – a much simpler and quieter affair than the London tube. Instead of a maze of lines going in all directions there is an oval and you travel clockwise or anti-clockwise or, as it is described at the stations, on the inner or the outer circle. And the short trains are bright orange.
Sight-seeing on our visit included Glasgow Cathedral, dedicated to St Kentigern, otherwise known as St Mungo, described as the most complete medieval cathedral on the Scottish mainland. As you might expect it is full of fascinating history, including an early King James Bible which went missing from the cathedral for many years before being found in an attic and put on display in time for the visit of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
Next to the cathedral is St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art which I have been recommended by a friend – “even if you are not religious” – but it was closed on the day we were there so is on the list for a return trip to Glasgow.
Then, just up the hill from the Cathedral, is the Necropolis, a Victorian cemetery full of impressive, today we might even say vulgar or over-the-top, memorials. This is another on the list for a return trip so we can get a guided tour. But it is fascinating just to wander around, particularly in the atmospheric gathering gloom of a late December afternoon.
On the way into the Necropolis there are some more recent, modest memorials including, unusually, one commemorating the men from Glasgow who were lost in the Korean War.
The walk to the Cathedral from our hotel took us past some of Glasgow’s splendid murals including a wonderful, and enormous, representation of St Mungo. We spent time with our friends discussing how you would even begin to create something so enormous. There is a Glasgow murals trail, another idea for a future visit particularly as we did not see the Billy Connolly mural.
Our trip to Glasgow also included visits to the eclectic Hunterian Collection and the wonderful Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum – for more on my previous visit to Kelvingrove see my blog “Brief impressions of a trip to Glasgow”.
On this shorter Kelvingrove visit Kathie and I were lucky enough to catch a recital of Christmas music on the 1901 pipe organ. I made sure I visited Mary Pownall’s The Harpy Celaeno (1902), one of my favourite sculptures.
And I found time to look at the temporary, and large, exhibition “Brushes With War” – drawings and paintings by men, and women, serving in the Great War, or First World War. It was a moving, at times sobering, insight into their experiences as they saw them, not how the authorities or official war artists saw them.
Naturally we tried some restaurants in Glasgow and all were good – Di Maggio (Italian), Bombay Blues (Indian), Hanoi Bike Shop (Vietnamese) and Mezzidakia (east Mediterranean). I would say the last two were particularly memorable, because they were a little out of the ordinary, the food was yummy and the staff were attentive.
And, of course, it would not be a visit to a big city without trying out the charity shops. Thank you to our friend who told us to visit Byres Road where we lost count of the charity shops we visited (see two previous blogs, “Mysterious books” and “The newest (and most addictive) joy of charity shops”, for more on this obsession).
So I was able to come home to Orkney with a dozen new (to me) CDs and a book. Ah, yes, a book.
I took with me to read on the trip a book of short stories by Joseph Conrad – I was set Conrad to read at school and did not get on with it. But he is considered a great author so I thought, “I must read him again.” Frankly it was hard work (I’m sure the fault is mine, not Conrad’s).
So then I thought, “Life is too short, why not read books I enjoy?”. In one of the Byres Road charity shops I found “The Cornish Coast Murder” by John Bude, originally published in 1935, this was a 2014 edition published (for the first time since the 1930s) by the British Library. And jolly good fun it was too, something in the style of Agatha Christie, set in a Cornish village, as you might imagine, and with the vicar playing a key role.
So, that was our latest visit to Glasgow – lots to see and enjoy around the city, perhaps the best concert ever, and a signpost to future reading enjoyment.
Finally in this blog, may I wish you a peaceful New Year as we enter an uncertain year.
To find out more
Paul McCartney’s Freshen Up Tour – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freshen_Up_(tour)
Paul McCartney’s Egypt Station album – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egypt_Station
And a track from Egypt Station, Come On To Me…
Glasgow Subway – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glasgow_Subway
Glasgow Necropolis – https://www.glasgownecropolis.org/
Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum – https://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/venues/kelvingrove-art-gallery-and-museum
Our previous Glasgow Trip – https://grahambrownorkney.wordpress.com/2018/05/17/brief-impressions-of-a-trip-to-glasgow/
Charity shop books – https://grahambrownorkney.wordpress.com/2018/08/27/mysterious-books/