Beatlemania returned to London last night (16 December) when Paul McCartney’s show at the O2 Arena featured a surprise reunion with Ringo Starr. The pair played together on an encore version of ‘Get Back’ that also featured the Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood.
The show was the last British date on McCartney’s Freshen Up tour, which will resume in South America in March before moving on to a North American leg in May. Paul and his band treated their London fans to an extensive main set that included many classics from both his Beatles and solo work, and some deep dives into both catalogues.
These included ‘I’ve Just Seen A Face,’ from Help!; the Wings song ‘Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five,’ from Band On The Run; and McCartney’s moving tribute to John Lennon that’s become a fixture of his shows, ‘Here Today.’ As on previous dates, he also sang the Lennon song from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, ‘Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite.’ From his current Egypt Station album came ‘Who Cares,’ ‘Come On To Me’ and ‘Fuh You.’
The encore of the London concert featured The Beatles’ ‘Birthday’ and then McCartney’s festive perennial ‘Wonderful Christmastime,’ featuring the Capital Children’s Choir. The song is currently making its annual UK chart reappearance with a 62-48 climb this week. Lennon’s ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over),’ with Yoko Ono, the Plastic Ono Band and the Harlem Community Choir, climbs 58-42 on that chart.
Then, as an extra drum kit was wheeled into position behind him, McCartney told the audience: “We’ve got a little surprise for you. It’s a surprise for us, actually, it only happened today.” He then introduced Wood before announcing: “Ladies and gentlemen, the ever-fantastic Ringo Starr.” At the conclusion of ‘Get Back,’ Starr came to the microphone to declare: “I don’t know about you, but that was a thrill for me.”
As Starr and Wood departed, McCartney said: “I’m just going to let that moment sink in.” He and the band then brought the show to a close with the reprise of ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,’ followed by ‘Helter Skelter’ and the ‘Golden Slumbers’ montage from Abbey Road.
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