a concert for linda postera concert for linda

1999 Jean Catharell

London, Saturday, April 10, 1999. I arrived at RAH at 1.00 p.m. in the afternoon with a group of friends. We waited and watched various people arriving. Elvis Costello was lovely and stopped to sign for people and to be interviewed by the many press/media people gathered. We also chatted to Marianne Faithfull, who was nice enough, as was Neil Finn. Tom Jones just walked right in without stopping for anything!

Anyway, as it got later the atmosphere heightened at the mere thought that Macca was due any time. At 3.30 p.m. Paul's car finally appeared being driven by the faithful John. Paul was sitting in the passenger seat and as the car came around to the crowd and stopped he spotted various people standing on the barrier and did a sort of "playing the piano motion" (arms held outstretched and the fingers moving - difficult to describe really). He saw the Linda poster that was on the barrier and as he got out of the car he pointed to it. He was dressed in a snatty light coloured jacket with a hood. John followed behind carrying the infamous Hofner bass - a clue to the events of the evening!!!

Paul waved to everyone and stood for a moment on the steps while people took pix.

Once Paul had gone inside most people drifted off.

We were sat in our seats by 7.00 p.m. and the air was electric. Everyone was waiting for the grand entrance of the Macca family but it didn't happen.

I scanned the boxes (with my trusty binoculars!!) while the lights were up but no since of the man himself. The show got underway with Eddie Izzard who "swore" his way through the whole evening - some funny, some not so funny. Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders were first on. Most of those appearing spoke of Linda before they began their show. Chrissie Hynde was particularly funny and mentioned that on the veggie/animal rights front Linda was probably worse than her for being a pain in the butt. It was obvious she missed Linda very much.

Paul and the family had snuck in during the first half and were evident in their box during the intermission. James was there wearing a very beatlesque jacket, in the dark lights it looked blueish in colour with a velvet collar. Stella, Mary, and Heather were also there but there was no evidence of Alistair (at least I didn't see him but that doesn't mean he wasn't there). There was no sign of the baby.

The crowd realised Paul was there and everyone was just sitting looking up at the box. Paul was busy talking to the kids and moving around the box. At one point he was standing at the back of the box just rocking from side to side whilst everyone else was chatting. it was quite funny to watch.

Elvis Costello came across as a really lovely person and in his speech he said: "He first met Linda about 10 years ago when Paul had called him to ask if he'd like to write some songs with him. He couldn't believe that his "hero" wanted to work with him and he thought "let's be adult about this and say yes. (LOL)" He also said that Linda was just lovely to him and his family and made them feel very at ease from the outset and they became good friends. Elvis then went on to say "with the help of the Brodsky Quartet I put together an arrangement of probably the most beautiful song Paul ever wrote for Linda", he then sang "Warm and Beautiful" and there wasn't a dry eye in the house - including mine (Sob, sob).

Neil Finn told everyone that although he'd come half way across the world to be here he would have done it anyway and nothing would have stopped him - he wanted to be here. He talked about how Paul and Linda's love for each other had been an inspiration to people in their business and how he admired them as a couple. He sang a Crowded House song saying that it was for his wife and family who, thankfully, were intact and healthy.

I don't remember if Tom Jones actually spoke about Linda but he did an amazing version of "She's A Woman".

George Michael came on to a rapturous welcome and had to stand some minutes waiting for the crowd to settle down. He spoke eloquently of Linda saying it was a honour for him to be here as well as difficult because his mother had lost the same battle as Linda just last year. He sang Eleanor Rigby followed by The Long And Winding Road - and I have to say that this was just simply amazing. I have never heard this song sung any better than the way Paul does it, but this comes a VERY VERY close second. His voice is, well, I've run out of words to describe it, simply wonderful. He then did "Faith" and everyone was up dancing - it was a great little set.

George left the stage to the same wall of sound he arrived with but as soon as he disappeared the crowd began shouting and stamping their feet calling for Paul. Eddie Izzard announced Paul but it was a minute or so before he appeared.

As Paul walked on to the stage he looked so small and frightened. He was obviously very nervous and as he stood at thechrissie and paul mic he was wringing his hands and his voice was just a little shaky. He told of how Chrissie had asked him if he would take part in this show and what his response was (we all know about this so I won't repeat it). He talked about Linda, his beautiful kids and his beautiful grandson.

As he mentioned the kids and grandson he put his hands out in front of him and pointed to the box where they were sitting. Stella was standing up and making the heart sign to Paul. What a supportive family they are.

As he came to the end of his speech Chrissie Hynde appeared behind him carrying his hofner bass, she tapped him on the shoulder and passed it to him. Paul said something like "well, I've got no choice now." He sang "Lonesome Town" by Ricky Nelson and explained that although they didn't know each other at the time, him and Linda used to listen to this song in the 50s. I don't know how he managed to sing this song, if you know the words they are very poignant.

He then stopped to talk about this being a full karaoke show and that he had the words in front of him. He then shouted "get em off" and ripped off his jacket to reveal a multi coloured t-shirt (probably one of Stella's) saying "so this is a real karaoke show" and went straight into "All My Loving". When he came to the words "All my loving, I will send to you" he stared up at the ceiling as if he was talking to heaven. For a while it was the old Paul. I think he had only planned to do two songs but he knew he wouldn't get away with that as the crowd was going completely wild. He chatted with the other artists who had now taken to the stage and they decided to do LIB. Paul got the words wrong, as did many of the others who took a verse each. Chrissie Hynde messed up completely and Paul came to her rescue, it was quite funny really. When the song finished Paul waved the hofner around like the Paul of old and shouted "I'm back". That was enough for me, the tears rolled down my face as I stood there and watched this very passionate man break back into the land of the living. It was wonderful to witness and I would have been one very disappointed lady if I hadn't have been there.

paul removes his jacket
Paul throwing his jacket off before he started his set. He left the
stage after hugging and kissing everyone who had taken part.

People threw flowers on the stage and Paul picked them up, throwing some of them back. Someone in the crowd had a card with Linda written on it inside a heart. Paul took this and held it above his head, the noise was terrific. Paul kept patting his heart as if to say either "I love you" or possibly "my heart is broken". He was extremely emotional and couldn't speak any more.

It was obvious that Chrissie Hynde had been a great friend of him and Linda (and was now that good friend to Paul) and I bless the ground this woman walks on for "making" him do this. If it hadn't have been for her we may not have witnessed the come back of Macca, she forced him into doing it and it was just what he needed. Three cheers for Chrissie, hip hip.

What an emotion charged night. I was drained and just wanted to lie down but we made our way home and talked all the way about what we had seen this night, a pure moment in history (again!) and a man who is not afraid to show his feelings in public.

--Jean Catharell

all my loving

Direct questions to Cathy Munro
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