By Alex Fraser
Paul McCartney delighted fans on Thursday with a surprise intimate gig at the Cavern Club, the cellar venue in Liverpool where The Beatles made their name more than 50 years ago
In scenes reminiscent of the 1960s, the 76-year-old was greeted by cheering and some screaming fans as he arrived at by car. Many had waited for hours hoping to get a ticket after the singer announced the free gig earlier in the day on Twitter.
McCartney, whose latest album “Egypt Station” comes out in September, played a wide-ranging set list including Beatles hits “Magical Mystery Tour” and “I Saw Her Standing There”, which got the loudest cheers from the audience.
“Hello Liverpool. Cavern,” he told fans as he came on stage.
The Beatles first played at the Cavern – a cramped cellar bar in the northern English port city – in 1961. The band went on to become a global phenomenon before splitting up in 1970.
Surrounded by Beatles pictures and murals, McCartney, who usually plays to vast arenas, sang and chatted to the audience during the two-hour gig at the packed club, which has a capacity for 350 standing people. They sang along with him.
“Imagine this for me,” he said.
“All those years ago we came here and played. We didn’t know if we’d ever have any future, but we did okay”
The original Cavern Club closed in 1973 and was eventually knocked down. But the bricks were used to build the venue that now stands in its place and draws Beatles fans from around the world.
McCartney played at the venue in 1999 when he played a range of his songs and covers.
Fan Lottie Ryan, 27, said: “It’s a dream, isn’t it? My dream is to go back in time to the 60s and see them at the Cavern.”
“This is the closest I’m ever going to get. I’m so excited,” she said as she waiting to get into the venue.
On Wednesday, McCartney attended a Q&A session at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, where he was asked which of the musicians he had worked with he admired the most. His answer began with fellow Beatles John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
“Having worked with John so one-on-one, I got to see his brilliance before the world did,” he said.
(Additional reporting and writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)