Why McCartney can never really sing at the Beatles' hallowed Cavern again

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The Independent Online
TONIGHT, FOR the first time since 3 August 1963, Sir Paul McCartney will sing in the cramped, sweaty Liverpool cellar which will be forever known as the Cavern - the stage which gave birth to the brightest band in the rock firmament.

Well, actually no, he will not. Not if we are being honest. He will be in the Cavern, but not the Cavern - not the old Cavern Club of the Fab Four.

Sir Paul, who says he wants to go back to the Cavern "just for one night, as a nod to the music that will ever thrill me", is snookered by a piece of municipal vandalism perpetrated by Liverpool's city fathers some 26 years ago. They ordered the compulsory purchase of the original Cavern Club to make way for ventilation shafts for an underground railway.

The shafts were never sunk but the Cavern was filled up with rubble.

Sir Paul's promoters, who are pushing his album Run Devil Run at the concert, want the authentic Cavern to exist almost as much as he does. "The occasionally quoted fact that the Cavern Club no longer exists is an urban myth. It will be his 281st show at the Cavern," said a statement from them earlier this month.

Over the years, Liverpool has done everything imaginable to recreate the original cellar: the current Cavern is built of bricks reclaimed from the old one and made to the exact dimensions (with a one-room extension). Even the address - 10, Mathew Street - is the same.

But the inscription above the door which reads "Where It All Began" is not totally accurate. When architects began planning the club's reconstruction after the death of John Lennon in 1980, it needed deeper foundations. Fire regulations after the 1973 Isle of Man's Summerland leisure-centre disaster, in which 50 died, made the Cavern's 18 stone steps hopelessly inadequate. The foundations also had to accommodate the shopping mall which has been built at street level. The new club is at the same site, but 10ft deeper.

There have been many attempts to recreate the original Cavern, where John, Paul, George, Peter Best and Stuart Sutcliffe first appeared for pounds 1. Tonight's Cavern concert, which is being broadcast on television and the Internet, could break the worldwide television audience for a music show of 500 million - still held, of course, by The Beatles.