After 43-year wait, Tel Aviv rocked by McCartney

Other News Materials 26 September 2008 05:52 (UTC +04:00)

Sir Paul McCartney may have wondered how he would be treated when he was 64, but the 66-year-old rock icon received a roar of excited affection when he bounded onto the stage in Tel Aviv Thursday night to sing Hello, Goodbye to enthusiastic fans, reported dpa.

Around 40,000 people attended the former Beatles' "Friendship First" concert in Tel Aviv's Yarkon Park, with many people waiting for hours on a warm night in the open-air arena for the chance to participate in what had been hyped as the biggest cultural event in Israel's history.

People who had been around to witness first-hand the excitement generated by A Hard Day's Night, or were able to remember listening to Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band for the first time and wonder what the lads were up to now, seemed to be a minority in the good-natured crowd.

"When you live on this planet, you have to be a Beatles fan," said 27-year-old Yonan, while 23-year-old Tsur noted that "The Beatles provide the music people grow up with."

Dressed in a black suit and pink shirt, McCartney greeted the crowd with "Shalom Tel Aviv" (Hello Tel Aviv) in Hebrew with a slight Liverpool accent, and wished them in Hebrew a happy new year, ahead of the Jewish New Year festival, which begins next week.

"I'm also going to be speaking some English," he added, before saying, "It's great to be in Tel Aviv. ... I've a feeling we're gonna have a good time."

He made no mention during his two-and-a-half-hour show of one of the biggest talking point surrounding his appearance in Israel - the story that 43 years ago the Israeli government of the day prevented The Beatles from performing in the Jewish state, partly because of the hysteria the group generated among young people, and partly because a committee set up to investigate the matter concluded that the pop group lacked "artistic merit."

Nor did McCartney allude directly to the calls for him to boycott Israel and the death threats he reportedly received if he would play in Tel Aviv, though he did tell the crowd "make love," after singing My Love, which he dedicated to his late wife, Linda.

He led the crowd in a rendition of Give Peace a Chance, telling the audience afterward, "You want it."

He said Give Peace a Chance was from John Lennon, and told the crowd, "This is from George" as he launched into a version of Something, while pictures of George Harrison flashed on the screen behind him.

Drummer Ringo Starr, the fourth and only other surviving ex- Beatle, was not mentioned during the show.

McCartney's 33-song repertoire Thursday night also included Beatles songs such as Baby You Can Drive My Car, All My Loving, I'll Follow the Sun, Blackbird, Get Back, Yesterday, Back in the USSR, Let it Be and Lady Madonna, as well as songs from his post-Beatles incarnation, such as Band on the Run and Mrs Vanderbilt.

As predicted, the crowd received the post-Beatles songs with polite enthusiasm but saved its real delight for the Beatles numbers, singing along with McCartney and his four fellow musicians on stage.

"You must sing with me," he said at one stage in carefully pronounced Hebrew, before introducing perhaps his most perfect composition as Ahalan Jude (Welcome, or Hey, Jude.)

Not an entirely accurate translation, but the crowd did not mind, joining in lustily when McCartney left his piano and conducted in chanting the lengthy coda, which climaxes the piece.

The most explosive number, literally, because it was accompanied by fireworks lighting the night sky, was the version of the title song he wrote for the James Bond movie Live and Let Die.

He left the stage after that but returned quickly as the crowd applauded, cheered and chanted the Hey Jude coda.

He ended his two encores appropriately with the song The End, which apart from containing the only drum solo in a Beatles number is one of the last numbers the group ever recorded and finishes with the line that for many fans sums up the world's most famous and influential rock group: "The love you take is equal to the love you make."