McCartney gets back to where he once belonged

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The Independent Culture

Liverpudlians of a certain generation were celebrating yesterday after their favourite son, Sir Paul McCartney, announced a special millennium concert at the city's Cavern Club - more than 35 years after he last played there.

Liverpudlians of a certain generation were celebrating yesterday after their favourite son, Sir Paul McCartney, announced a special millennium concert at the city's Cavern Club - more than 35 years after he last played there.

McCartney appeared at the Cavern on 3 August 1963, three weeks before the release of She Loves You, and before Britain was gripped by Beatlemania. One obsessed fan has worked out that next Tuesday's concert will be 12,953 days since his last performance at the sweaty underground club.

The 57-year-old formally announced the concert on Parkinson, broadcast last night but recorded earlier in the week. By yesterday morning the leaked story was hot gossip around the streets of Liverpool.

"We knew a week ago that Paul was going to come and play but we were not allowed to say anything. It has been the longest week of my life," said Bill Heckle, a director of the Cavern Club, rebuilt on the site of the original venue, which fell victim to bulldozers in 1973.

"I think it is fantastic news for the city because in a way Paul McCartney playing the Cavern is bigger than the Beatles playing there, if you remember that when the Beatles played here they were only famous locally."

Sir Paul and his band - including Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour - will play a mixture of rock and roll favourites and some original songs, taken from his most recent album, Run Devil Run. He has asked for a local, unsigned band to go on the support slot.

"Before the Beatles ever got big, we started out playing rock and roll at the Cavern," he said yesterday. "I am going back, just for one night as a nod to the music that has always, and will for ever thrill me. I can't think of a better way to rock out the century than with a rock and roll party at the Cavern, singing the songs of my heroes." Given the near saint-like status afforded to McCartney by many Liverpudlians it is little surprise the announcement has resulted in a surge of demand for tickets. But because the club can hold only 300 people - most of whom will be friends and family - only 100 tickets are being made available. These will be drawn by ballot next week at five record stores around Britain.

Among those in the crowd will be Alan Williams, the Beatles' one-time manager and ever since the long-suffering butt of jokes about the man who fired the most famous band in the world. "I am getting on a bit so this may be the last time I'll see him," he said. "I think it is great for the city but I also think it is good for McCartney as well - he has got this album to promote, after all."

Mr Williams was not the only person in the city to voice a little cynicism about the concert, but it seems to have caught the imagination of most.

"Yeah, it sounds great. I would love to get a ticket to the concert," said Antonio Romero, 24, a Spanish student visiting the city, as he took a photograph of a friend posing next to a bronze cast of John Lennon outside the club. "The Cavern is the only thing we wanted to see in Liverpool. It is the only landmark we know."

But it also appeared McCartney's biggest fans are from his own generation. "Paul McCartney?" said Lucie Marshall, 16, as she walked out of a city record store with a copy of Spice Girl Mel C's latest single. "Well, yes, I have heard of him."

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