Paul McCartney, not in Covent Garden (via)
Say what you like about Paul McCartney, that he looks like a butch lesbian, or he’s an out-of-date advert for M&S, he’s still a living legend. So when he sent out a tweet at about 12:20pm, which said: “I'm getting ready to pop up in Covent Garden at 1pm today. Oh baby!” I read it and immediately terminated my gif bookmark pages and I set off out of the office.
I had about half an hour to get from Shoreditch to Covent Garden, which seems like an ample amount of time. But when you consider that the Central Line is built upon tourists who stand on the left, walk really slowly, and clog up the corridors, it took a lot longer. By the time I reached Covent Garden, the dry heaves that I’d presumably placed an order for earlier had arrived, and I could taste my breakfast in my lungs. Thank God I didn’t indulge in the endless camaraderie of the Covent Garden staircase.
Covent Garden looked normal. Fluorescent clad Panda saviours, free drink lotharios, and metallic painted jobseekers were all on their hustle. It didn’t seem like the biggest icon in the world was about to invade everyone’s lunch break with yet another rendition of “Hey Jude”. And it didn’t seem like anyone cared. But then I turned the corner, and saw this.
In case you can’t tell from my brilliant photography, it’s a photo of a bunch of people waiting for something. In the left of the shot is a big black truck. I didn’t have any friends with me, but I met this guy. He told me that he used to take lots of photos for bands like Led Zeppelin, Boy George, and other remnants from parental music collections. And he confirmed to me that the big black truck was going to turn into a big black stage.
Noisey: Did you know Paul McCartney was playing here?
No. I just came to go to the bank. Natwest told me that he was playing. And the massive truck gave it away.
Are you a huge Macca fan?
Yeah…. I mean, I can remember when they started in 1963. I’ve seen The Beatles live when I was a kid.
The word had started to get out that Paul McCartney would be playing a lunchtime set, and the crowds had gathered. Nobody seemed very happy about it though. I guess that’s what happens when you’re on your way to buy an overpriced sandwich and a member of The Beatles decides to play a free show.
People had started to gather on rooftops. Others were peering out of penthouse suite windows. It felt a little bit like a reimagining of the Savile Row performance, except John and George have left us, and Ringo is too much of a prick to even open fan mail, let alone perform a free show. A girl behind me was in tears. “He hasn’t started yet and I’ve lost me mam and I can proper see the stage”, she said, as she sobbed into her phone.
Noisey: Why are you here?
I came all the way down from Liverpool. I won a competition to go to his signing.
Are you a massive Paul McCartney fan?
Yeah, and a massive Beatles fan. They’re just amazing. When I was little my Dad got me into them quite a lot and I’ve loved them since. I ran from HMV on Oxford Street to get here.
As the digitised clocks started to encroach around the 1pm time slot, everyone started to check their phones with the regularity of their breathing. It reached 1:15, and then 1:20, and still no sign of Paul. One fella behind me shouted something along the lines of “C’mon you scouse bastard” while another muttered something about “He better hurry the fuck up, I’ve only got half an hour for lunch”.
At these sort of events, the smallest of movements on the stage cause the biggest ripples of excitement through the crowd. When this professional lady climbed on to the stage with her really professional camera, a French guy stood on my foot to get a better view. In an act of reluctant unison the crowd started a slow clap, as if it was an audible form of coaxing.
In response, the security opened up the partitioning to the flatbed truck on which Paul would be performing.
And then everyone pulled out their camera phones because they all thought something was happening, and no one wanted to miss what may have been happening, even if they couldn’t see what was happening with their own eyes.
Eventually, after I’d eaten into my data plan, and the rest of the working world had eaten into their lunch breaks, Paul took to the stage.
“Hello”, he said. "We're just going to do some songs from our new album so get your phones out - as if they weren't already." And then ploughed into a new song from his new album called New.
It wasn’t just Paul on stage. He brought a couple of friends too. Like this guy, who had the sort of jawline that was made to make “Love In An Elevator”. My camera didn’t have a zoom lense, but because I’m a provider to the people, I took two really good photos of Paul with my phone. Here’s the first one.
And here’s the other one.
The band played four songs. Paul asked the sound guy if they still had some time left, and if they could play one more. The sound guy said yes, and the crowd silently prayed to Sgt Pepper that he’d play “I Saw Her Standing There”. But he didn’t. And instead, they played the first song all over again. Which wasn’t new any more, but it was still taken from the album, New.
After that, he left, and we all went back to work.
Follow Ryan on Twitter: @RyanBassil
Read more like this: