After the New World Tour of 1993, and the release of the album, PAUL IS LIVE, many things changed in Paul’s life.
We had the release of his first Fireman project (STRAWBERRIES OCEANS SHIPS FOREST) in November of 1993.
Not long after this, with the input of George and Ringo and Yoko, Paul directed his energy from 1994-1996 preparing, and recording and working on The Beatles Anthology project.
They had all agreed in advance to not release any solo materials until the complete roll out of this massive undertaking (which lasted until late October of 1996).
Paul, as always, continued to write, but this time with no pressure to record and release anything in this three year period.
So, the touring and recording band of 1993 effectively ended by these developments.
After finally going back in the studio to record new material, he continued to work with Jeff Lynne and back again with George Martin, and the album FLAMING PIE was released in May of 1997.
Then as Paul began laying all of his new material on tape, another major development. Linda McCartney was diagnosed with breast cancer, and despite every effort that the McCartney’s made she passed on April 17th, 1998.
Linda’s passing and the grieving that followed meant that Paul would not go back on the road to support this album. And he had never toured without Linda on stage since he left The Beatles.
He did a one off show with the musicians that worked with him on 1999’s RUN DEVIL RUN. This excellent album was the therapy he needed to slowly work his way back emotionally to create new music.
Then, even stranger, while continuing to write new music Paul met and fell very quickly in love with Heather Mills, and as quickly they married, and had a daughter together.
Paul in 2001 was still 100% behind the new marriage, and many of the newest songs put to tape were based on his emotional recovery. The album, DRIVING RAIN, was released in November of 2001.
Producer David Kahne was brought in,
This time, Paul was anxious to get back on the road, and feel the love of performing again.
Paul used the youngsters (Abe Laborial Jr., Gabe Dixon and Rusty Anderson) that Kahne had brought into the studio for the record, and replaced Dixon with Brian Ray when live performances were being worked on .
Dixon had his own band and commitments and sadly backed out of the tour, and performing pre-game of the 2002 Super Bowl.
I saw Paul in Fort Lauderdale on May 18th of this tour, and while he was great as always, there was no love for any of the new songs from most of the crowd. Paul had taken better care of his voice, and he sounded better to me in 2002 that he had in 1993. And so it is on the album itself.
Again, looking at the set list, much like the last two major tours. Mostly Beatles songs, his classic hits, and songs from the new album.
Some of the stories now began to be the same, but for someone who loves Paul, this is what you get when you sign up. So was the Driving Rain Tour.
The tour began on April 1, 2002 with the first American leg in Oakland, California. This album chronicled this leg of the tour, which itself would be promoted by another leg in the States. The second American leg was followed by visits to Mexico and Japan. A remix of The Fireman tracks and a performance by Cirque du Soleil opened each show.
Statistical Analysis (U.S.)
# of Songs: 35
Songs of Paul (solo): 9 (25.7%)
Songs of Wings: 6 (17.1%)
Songs of Beatles (Lennon/McCartney): 20 (57.1%)
-After the crowd was treated to the trippy Cirque performers Paul is welcomed with open arms and opens with this Beatles classic. Since Paul still tours with these four amazing musicians to this day, the chemistry was certainly there, and the performances by the band are always top notch and obviously pleases the very demanding McCartney. Wonderful opening and again, Paul is in such good voice, and the band doesn’t miss a phrase or lick from the original vinyl. Rating – 8.5
-A bit of a tough one for Paul, vocally. On the verse he is amazing, but Abe, Brian and Rusty back him, and occasionally save him, perfectly. Wix, as the tour musical director is as good as it gets on filling out the sonic landscape. Rating – 7.5
“All My Loving”
-The only way this could get better would be having the Lads onstage. Fantastic performance that makes you dance, cry and sometimes both at the same time. Rating – 9.5
-Paul has us in his fingers and opening chords has us leaping. A first performance of his Beatles song for Paul in concert. An extended ending is created to end the song smoothly, but another home run for the band.
-Funky and fresh, Paul lets loose. Wix creates an entire brass section on the keys and Paul’s bass is top notch. Amazing. Rating – 8.5
“Let Me Roll It”
-Other than maybe wanting to give this song a break, I find this performance as good as he as ever done it. The band helps him vocally every bit as good as Wings in their heyday. I love when Paul sings…. “I want(s) to tell you. Abe drumming on this and everything he has ever done with Paul makes him my favorite drummer of Paul’s. He brings such energy and power and warmth and laughter, and he hits notes a choir boy would envy. Rating – 8.5
-He had us….. and then a new song. It hurt seeing the rush to the johns… but Paul and the band actually play all of the new songs best, as they had just been recorded by them. 20 years on, this song sounds very nice, but back in 2001, it clipped the energy. I dug it… Rating – 7
-I guess Paul figured it was time to knock out the new ones, all in a row.
Rating – 6.5
“Your Loving Flame”
-Another from the new album. We all knew who this song was for… so there was an internal struggle to like it, and for us who couldn’t imagine him singing songs like this to anyone but his Linda. Done as well as possible, but there was a tension in the room that night over Heather. Rating – 6.5
-Solo, with the story of it’s origins. Paul is a tad pitchy, but we didn’t care.
Rating – 7.5
-Solo, but it could have used Brian on bass and Abe on drums. Still, lovely in its stripped down form, with the crowd clapping and providing a back beat on the chorus. Rating – 8
“We Can Work It Out”
-Solo, with Paul in very strong voice, but I prefer the version with Wix and the band from the 1993 tour. Rating – 8
“Mother Nature’s Son”
-Wix comes out on accordion for this one, and it adds some texture. Another first off live performance of a Beatles song. Paul changes the ending a bit from the recording. Rating – 8
-As highlights of the film played on the large monitor, Paul strums his academy award nominated song that not many people really know. A lot of confused looks and trips to…well, you know. Only available on the U.S. version. Rating – 7
(Medley) “You Never Give Me Your Money”/“Carry That Weight”
-Another first time performance from his Beatles cannon…. Paul plays electric piano solo. Earlier in the tour Paul had flubbed the lyrics and so naturally, he repeats it every show. Nice, but I wanted it all….. Rating – 8
“The Fool On The Hill”
-Paul is joined by Wix. Nothing new, but no spinning piano or added spoken parts. Rating – 7
(Acoustic and ukulele)
-The moment we all waited for day. Clearly touched by the song, this is the first time he did the individual tributes to John, and then George. He voice clearly showed the loved he felt, and tears flowed. Rating – 9
-George had just passed only months prior, but Paul gives a reason to smile and clap along with the ukulele that George had given him. Touching, and without the switch to the electric part on the second half which he would perform at “The Concert For George” and at all shows since then. Rating -9
-Wix string work highlights this one, with Abe adding the high harmonies on the chorus. Paul is on acoustic. Rating – 8
“Here, There And Everywhere”
-Wonderful band harmonies on this one. Wix again on accordion gives this a Italian flair. Rating – 8
“Band On The Run”
-Well done, but Paul struggles a tad when he pushes it vocally. Nothing new here, unless this is your first Paul show. Rating – 7.5
“Back In The U.S.S.R.”
-Another Beatles first time in concert song, and it gives the show a burst of fresh energy. Lots of bopping about and in the aisles. Rating – 8
“Maybe I’m Amazed”
-Excellent version, tons of energy. Brian Ray plays the shit out the bass on this one. Rating – 8.5
-Not one of my favorite Wings song, but a favorite of Paul’s. Is that Wix on vibes? Rating – 7
-Must have been hard to sing the Linda love songs with Heather in the crowd, but Paul plays what he thinks the audience came to hear. Played a bit harder than any of the other bands, and Paul does a great job re-phrasing some of the lines that maybe would have tripped him up vocally. Rating -8
“Can’t By Me Love”
– A no brainer that again had the crowd leaping and escaping into their Beatles past. On vinyl, Paul is pushed back in the mix, and muddled a bit too much, but maybe this was intentional? Rating – 8
-Even after 9/11, and it’s birth at the “Concert for New York”, the crowd didn’t warm to this track. Only played on the U.S. legs. Never to be his “Imagine,” I think the crowd noise and applause may have been…enhanced? Rating – 6.5
“Live And Let Die”
-He must do this…. The explosions get bigger… Now, Rusty falls over after the lead before the last verse, and Paul acts surprised at the end… every time. Rating – 7.5
“Let It Be”
-We know we are approaching the last laps of the race. Wonderful job by everyone.. Rating – 8
-The sing-along version, at it’s peak. Paul even jumps out front for a while, leading the different parts of the arena. “You were great…..you were all great.”
Rating – 7
“The Long And Winding Road”
-One final chance for lovers to hold each other, and tears to form at how lucky we were hearing the man who wrote this gem sing it for us. Rating -8
-The final piano song, performed as well as possible. This band can play… did I mention that? Rating – 7.5
“I Saw Her Standing There”
-Paul encourages ass-shaking, so ass-shaking it was…. Rating – 8
-Another song Paul can not sing at one of his shows. Rating – 8
(Medley) “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”/“The End”
-One of the ways Paul ends the show. Now he usually performs the second medley from “Abbey Road” and leaves us a tattered mess heading out to the parking lot. Here, it is an excellent ending, as they all take extra turns on their solos and stretch it out. Wix on bass was a surprise, because I never put two and two together on who would play it. On this album, not the best ending of any Paul show (the solo’s were not life-changing) but you know it’s the end so you don’t care what they play as long as they don’t stop. Rating – 7.5
The 2003 European BACK IN THE WORLD album differs in the following:
NO “Vanilla Sky”
Song #20 “Calico Skies”
Song #21 “Michelle”
NO “C Moon” or “Freedom”
Song #23 “Let ‘em In”
Song #27 “She’s Leaving Home”
Statistical Analysis (World)
# of Songs: 36
Songs of Paul (solo): 8 (22.2%)
Songs of Wings: 6 (16.7%)
Songs of Beatles (Lennon/McCartney): 22 (61.1%)
-Fantastic version, first time performed, for European audiences. Wix on accordion and Its gentle march on the verses give this song a freshness I wish we could have had at our show. Rating – 9
-The crowd goes wild on this fantastic performance by Paul and the band. Wix kept his accordion on and we are glad. Rating – 8.5
“Let ‘em In”
-Not performed since the the 1975-76 Wings over world tour. A nice memory for the European audiences. Wix again, is able to recreate all of the brass. Rusty is given an electric solo to join the brass. Interesting, and Paul sounds great, playing fast and loose on this version. Rating – 8.5
“She’s Leaving Home”
-Another first time performed Beatles song, for the European leg. Great hearing Paul on something new of something old, and songs like this make the show more complete. Take away “C-Moon” AND “Freedom” and “Vanilla Sky” and maybe one or two of the new songs and add these and I would have been in heaven.
Rating – 9
Overall a very enjoyable live album, which ends up with an overall rating of 7.95/10.
Up next… 2009’s “Amoeba’s Secret.”