Paul McCartney: let it be

Paul McCartney  | The O2 Arena | 23 May 2015

Paul McCartney’s been at it for over half a century. He’s long since lost the element of surprise – yet tonight, during what’s billed as his 50th London show, that’s exactly what he delivers.

Sure, the familiar touchstones – well-worn stories, setlist stuffed with the biggest songs of the past 100 years, granddad-style audience banter, mass ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ singalong, trademark thumbs-up – are all there. But so are the effusive live debut of ‘Temporary Secretary’, a glitchy electro-pop obscurity from 1980s ‘McCartney II’; the first UK performance of effervescent ‘Help!’ album track ‘Another Girl’; and the appearance of giddy, grinning “up-and-coming rhythm guitarist” Dave Grohl on a jubilant ‘I Saw Her Standing There’.

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Paul McCartney at London’s O2 Arena

On 23 May 2015, Paul McCartney celebrated his 50th live appearance in London with an almost three-hour 40-song set. And “up-and-coming rhythm guitarist” Dave Grohl showed up to lend a hand.

Nick Cave: Push the sky away

Nick Cave  | Eventim Apollo | 2 May 2015

“Look at me now!” bellows Nick Cave during ‘Jubilee Street’, somewhat unnecessarily. That’s exactly what everybody in Hammersmith’s sold-out Eventim Apollo has done for the past 90 minutes, seemingly transfixed by the messianic troubadour’s every move.

There’s a reverential silence while he performs ‘The Mercy Seat’ alone on stage, his impassioned vocal of defiance and redemption backed by nothing more than the minor chords he beats out of the grand piano. There’s a thrust of hands clamouring for his chest as he leans in and, as per the lyrics of ‘Higgs Boson Blues’, suggestively asks the diehards congregated at his feet: “Can you feel my heart beat?” Even during a rare outing for the almost-forgotten ‘Black Hair’, there’s hushed singing along from the crowd, awestruck either by the maudlin ballad’s return to the set or Warren Ellis’ plaintive accompaniment on accordion.

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Dan Patlansky: Bring the world to its knees

Dan Patlanksy | The Borderline |  27 April 2015

The walls of The Borderline are lined with old performance photos of musicians who’ve gone on to sell out arenas and even stadiums. If his sold-out show is anything to go by, it won’t be long before Dan Patlansky’s picture is up there alongside Pearl Jam’s.

The South African uses the launch of his new album, ‘Dear Silence Thieves’, to showcase not only his natural talent as a virtuoso blues guitarist but also his ever-expanding skills as singer and songwriter. Case in point: the fiery funk of set opener ‘Backbite’ is a world away from the 12-bar blues he cut his teeth on – a concise, catchy radio hit-in-waiting. Here in the freedom of the live setting it plays out a little longer than the version on record, thanks to one of his signature searing solos that show off his chops (and accompanying facial gurning) without a trace of self-indulgence.

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Paul Simon and Sting: These are the days of miracle and wonder

Paul Simon and Sting | The O2 | 16 April 2015

Both started out in successful groups that split acrimoniously.Each has a failed Broadway musical to his name. And, uhm, their surnames start with ‘S’. Not much in common, then, between the quintessential ‘60s New York folk singer and a Newcastle milkman’s son born Gordon Sumner.

Doesn’t matter. Any real differences between Paul Simon and Sting suddenly seem irrelevant when, together, they open the set with a few of their biggest hits. And as they trade verses on songs like ‘Fields of Gold’ and ‘Mother and Child Reunion’, it’s obvious the odd couple share a mutual respect and back catalogues that are not insubstantial — or incompatible.

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