On Sunday, Sir Paul appeared before a crowd of 70,000 people this evening in Dvortsovaya Square in the center of St. Petersburg, Russia. The concert began 90 minutes later than planned because of rain and delays with the audience getting through the metal detectors. The fans greeted Sir Paul with shouts of "Paul! We love you!" Sir Paul replied in Russian, "Privet, Piter! Privet, rebyata! ("Hi, St. Petersburg! Hi, guys!) St. Petersburg is so beautiful. And we will rock it tonight!"
He may have rocked it a bit too hard. Today, in an interview with the newspaper Izvestia, Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg claims that the vibrations from the open-air concert set off alarms and cracked windows in the Winter Palace, the former home of the Russian tsars, and may have caused microscopic damage to the paintings housed within:
"We cannot say right now how much damage was caused to the Hermitage by the concert. Micro-damage may reveal itself much later. But I can say one thing for certain: we cannot allow such things to be repeated. You have to know how museum workers feel about vibrations. Often we refuse to transport our paintings by aircraft. We transport them in special vehicles. And McCartney's concert - this whole show - produced a noise level incomparably more powerful than that of any airplane. I think it is totally unacceptable to conduct such large concerts in historical city centers. The beautiful landscapes, which probably attract the organizers in the first place, suffer because of it."
A spokesman for Sir Paul claims that Sir Paul has not received any official complaint:
"I'm certain the proper permits and approvals were secured. "As far as the noise level goes - it's a rock concert. I don't think anyone should be surprised if it's a bit noisy. We haven't received any complaints, only glowing approval."
There were no complaints from the audience. Often he delivered his remarks to the crowd in Russian. When he spoke English, the Russian translation appeared on the giant TV monitors. Sir Paul even wrote a new song dedicated to St. Petersburg. According to an audience member, journalist and translator Igor Malsky:
"That song sounded like a prayer. It means McCartney was really moved by our city when he visited it last year. I grew up on the music of the Beatles. When I first heard it I realized at once that it was my music, the music exactly for my soul."
At the end of the concert, the crowd cheered when Sir Paul appeared on stage carrying a Russian flag. After the show, Russian President Vladimir Putin phoned Sir to wish him a happy birthday.
While in St. Petersburg, Sir Paul and his family spent most of their time in an elite cottage on the grounds of the Konstantin Palace in Strelna. He visited three restaurants where he dined on vegetarian food. On Saturday, he visited the famed fountains of Peterhof and met with St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko. Sir Paul departed St. Petersburg on Monday where fans gathered at Pulkovo airport to chant "Malo! Malo"!
(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)
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