On The Road Again

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

The chance to see Paul McCartney play live in Oakland on Monday may seem like an April Fool's joke, but it's not. After approximately 1,400 live concerts with The Beatles, 142 with Wings and 195 as a solo artist, Paul McCartney is hitting the road again in April on his first tour in almost 10 years, and the Bay Area will be hosting his first two shows.

Monday he plays at the Oakland Arena. He then visits the Compaq Center in San Jose on Wednesday before heading off to 16 other cities across the United States and one stop in Canada.

The "Driving USA' tour began life as a short, 12-date stint before embarking on a European tour in May, but demand for tickets was so great the tour was extended to its current 19-date, two-month run.

McCartney's response to the public's demand for more shows was typically understated. "I'm chuffed (pleased) to be asked to stay longer on the road‚" he said. "Hopefully this will make the tour more of a trip."

Few artists have McCartney's enduring appeal, one that crosses cultural and generational boundaries. With a career spanning some 40 years, there can be few people alive today that have not had his music as the backdrop to at least some part of their life.

His 1965 Beatles composition "Yesterday‚" is the most covered pop song of all time, with more than 2,500 versions recorded to date. His 1977 single "Mull of Kintyre,‚" recorded with Wings, sold more than 2 million copies and became the biggest selling British single of all time. In 1999, when the Wings album "Band On The Run‚" was re-released for its 25th anniversary it went straight to the top of the Billboard charts. "This is a singing endorsement of the timelessness and brilliance of Paul McCartney‚" said Roy Lott, president of Capitol Records.

Demand for tickets for his current U.S. tour would seem to confirm that McCartney's music is as popular now as it ever was. Joining McCartney on, stage for the tour will be two musicians from his "Driving Rain‚" album, guitarist Rusty Anderson and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. Keyboardist Wix Wickens, a veteran of previous tours, and newcomer guitarist/ bassist Brian Ray complete the lineup.

Although everyone concerned is being tight-lipped regarding the set list, the band is expected to perform selections from "Driving Rain‚" alongside music from The Beatles', Wings' and McCartney's solo career.

There are probably only a handful of people alive today who can justify the label "rock 'n' roll legend." Paul McCartney is undeniably one of them, and an opportunity to catch him on this tour is not one to be missed.

First published in "411", The Salinas Californian, March 28, 2002

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