Music review: Paul McCartney, Hydro, Glasgow

Despite his status as the most esteemed rock star on the planet, Sir Paul McCartney is such a personable presence that three hours in his company flew by like a snatched chat over tea and biscuits with an old pal. His Freshen Up tour is a steady stroll around his singular career, opening doors to unexpected rooms, dusting off old gems and honouring the sheer eclecticism of his output over the past six decades, from naive ditties to emotional epics and outright rockers.

Paul McCartney, Hydro, Glasgow ****

Just for starters, Beatles classics A Hard Day’s Night and Can’t Buy Me Love are songs forged in and made for sweaty basement clubs but with tunes so undeniable they could happily translate to this huge room packed with fans from around the world.

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Later, he dusted off In Spite of all the Danger, an utterly charming country-flavoured treat from his earliest Quarrymen years, given the campfire treatment alongside From Me to You with sweet harmony vocals from drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. McCartney’s entire band were superb throughout, engaged and entertaining as well as remarkable players. His supremely funky brass section made their debut down in the audience to embellish the hoary blues rock of Letting Go in a nice intimate touch typical of a show which, despite the stone classic calibre of most of the music (the loveless chug of the following Who Cares was one of the few dips), maintained a communal, genial party atmosphere throughout.

PIC: Edmond Sadaka/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

McCartney, meanwhile, effortlessly glided between instruments, adding a Hendrix-style shred to the meaty, soulful rock of Let Me Roll It, moving to piano for luscious love songs old (Maybe I’m Amazed) and new (My Valentine) and breaking out a ukulele intro to George Harrison’s mighty Something, as well as peppering the show with disarming little stories and insights into his career.

He was not afraid to be vulnerable during a solo acoustic interlude, paying tribute to John Lennon with Here Today before bringing out the big guns for the home straight – Band on the Run, Back in the USSR, Let it Be, a triumphant Hey Jude and a pyromaniacal Live and Let Die during which he blew up the Houses of Parliament (virtually, of course).

As a man for all seasons, he encored with both Birthday and Wonderful Christmastime, with bonus kids’ choir and tinselly snowstorm, before Beatle-ing through to the end (with The End) of this bumper musical selection box. - Fiona Shepherd