Paul McCartney’s recent appearances have always paid homage to his past. The singer’s contribution to music with his band The Beatles should rightly stand in the spotlight of any performance from Sir Paul. But for a while, the singer avoided looking back at the past for his present performances.
Here we relive the tour that saw Paul McCartney finally embrace his past and welcome a host of Beatles hits to his setlist. This clip sees McCartney finally assimilating his solo career with his legendary band on his world tour and writing the blueprint of his huge success into the next century.
During the seventies, following The Beatles disbandment and McCartney’s pursuit of solo glory, the singer stayed away from performing the Fab Four’s tunes perhaps thinking it felt a little vulgar to rely too heavily on the work he had just unceremoniously left behind. He did drop a few Beatles’ numbers during the Wings 1975-76 and 1979 tours, but for the most part, they had been kept aside from the McCartney’s repertoire.
On The Paul McCartney World Tour, that stance changed and it opened up the floodgates.
1989 would see McCartney take to the road for the first time in ten years when the Wings tour ended in 1979. The singer had disbanded the group following a drugs bust in Tokyo in 1980 which had left him feeling vulnerable while on the road—but that year would also see some other classic rock alumni take to the stage.
The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, the Who were all touring and gathering up ticket sales wherever they went. It was a sign that it was time to get up off the canvas. Could McCartney draw in a big enough crowd without the other members of his famous band? Yes, of course, he could.
The singer and talented musician sold-out stadiums and arena wherever he went and he repaid those faithful fans with not only some of Wings’ best tunes and his own solo numbers but a whole host of Beatles songs which would litter the setlist and delight everyone in attendance.
The set would not only include hits like ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ and ‘Hey Jude’ but it also rarities that hadn’t been performed since the band’s split like ‘Fool on the Hill’ and ‘The Long and Winding Road’. Considering The Beatles themselves stopped performing in 1966, most of the band’s best work has rarely been performed live.
Despite having an album to promote in Flowers in the Dirt, McCartney clearly took the most joy in bringing out the tracks had actually worked to put him in front of thousands of adoring fans. He enjoyed giving them a taste of the past and sweet piece of nostalgia to go home with. The moment below must’ve been truly special for all those in attendance as McCartney performs The Beatles’ classic number ‘Let It Be’.
The video footage comes from Get Back the 1991 concert film that documented The Paul McCartney World Tour of 1989–1990. The film was directed by Richard Lester (his most recent directorial work to date) and brought together a bunch of clips from the tour to create one of the seminal tour videos of the decade. It means it is quite difficult to accurately date and place the clip. (Answers on a postcard.)
What we do know however is that this moment is a pure and honest connection between artist and audience. The artist, happily playing his greatest hits is showing his gratitude and thanks for the love he received by performing for his audience. The audience is awe-stricken and equally as grateful to hear the songs that they fell in love with.
To preface the performance, McCartney pays homage to the other people who had put him in his position as he dedicates the song to his “buddies, John, George and Ringo”.
Watch Paul McCartney embrace the past and perform The Beatles ‘Let It Be’ in 1990.