Last week, the San Francisco Chronicle's pop music critic, James Sullivan, visited Sir Paul in Culver City, California during one of his final rehearsals for the Driving USA tour. Sir Paul and his new band were working in a huge, dimly lit sound stage (the same sound stage that was used years ago for the filming of Gone With the Wind). When the reporter arrived, Sir Paul was rehearsing the opening moments of the concert during which he will raise his famous Hofner bass guitar over his head in time with an accompanying video image above him. As Sir Paul issued some instructions into the microphone, he joked:"I hope somebody's listening to me. I just got the feeling I was talking to myself."Sir Paul's last three public performances have been at the Oscar ceremony, the Super Bowl, and the Concert for New York City. "We don't do any shows with an audience less than a billion," Sir Paul said with a laugh.
The interview took place in a comfortable trailer on the studio lot as Sir Paul munched on some noodles during a rehearsal break. He was dressed casually in a wrinkled dress shirt worn unbuttoned over black T-shirt, plaid flannel pajama bottoms, and "smelly socks" (as Sir Paul described them as he pulled them off his feet).
The Driving USA tour will feature songs from all phases of Sir Paul's career. There are many songs he will not be performing. He explained, "We're leaving out things like Penny Lane. Anyone else would do that. It's a nice number, a good arrangement."
The tour will also feature some McCartney firsts - for example, he will play an acoustic set which he claims will be the first time he has ever played the guitar on-stage without accompaniment:"I'm doing some stuff I've never done before .... In the early days we used to have John on a crappy little organ. We sounded like a little church group."Sir Paul talked about his last visit with George Harrison which took place two weeks before he died:"We were laughing and joking, just like old times. The only difference, really, was that I was holding his hand. Because he was pretty frail, you know. It was very lovely, very emotional, very warm. I came away from the meeting thinking, 'Gosh, I held his hand for the first time in my life.' That was sort of a plus. I mean, out of this terrible, negative thing came something very positive."His new album celebrates the positive moments he is now enjoying in his life. After recording his Driving Rain album, he and Heather Mills enjoyed listening to the album as they drove around Southern California in their rented Corvette, "It's one of those cool albums to drive to. It drives well."
He believes the album will also tour well. It just feels right:"I always say, 'We'll see when the record's done. ' I like the players. I thought, 'I've got an instant band.' "The tour will have a back-to-basics feel without a lot of pre-recorded music and technical wizardry. At the rehearsal, the reporter remarked that the band sounded loud, raw and excitable. Sir Paul said,"I like that. If we make a mistake, you'll hear it. We'll have to stop."Then he slipped into a comically cool voice and added, "It's on the edge, man!"
(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)
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