1999 Jean Catharell
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.
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 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 the
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
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.
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.
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.
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.