Thursday, December 3, 2015

ES-Say #50- James McCartney Live(The Other "Me")

Last night, James McCartney was playing one of three planned gigs at The Islington in London. This venue, is not to be confused with The 02 Academy Islington, located a few streets away, and jam packed with teenagers queuing early to see "SuG" or "Hey Violet" on the same night. No, folks, around the same time(about 6 PM), myself(alone), was waiting outside The Islington(small pub and concert space) with the view of the back of a supermarket. I sat on an outside bench for an hour and a half, listening to the soundcheck of James singing solo words repeatedly over a mishmash of guitar sounds. Being alone and getting cold was not very exciting, until ten minutes before the doors opened when five other fans finally showed. Small talk on the bench, turned into puzzlement, as four people dressed in black, arrived and stood in obliviousness by the front door. These people then expectedly cut the queue to get in first.

Under normal circumstances, I would have told these people to move out of my way, but I let it go, because it was obvious that everyone in front was heading straight for the bar area. I darted through a red curtain for the concert space, half-expecting to have to elbow my way to the front. The stage took up a quarter of the room, with more red curtains aligning the back walls and two perpendicular light bulbs ment to look like candles. With the red lighting added to the stage, it looked like "Red Room" from Twin Peaks without a zig zag flooring. For the next hour, as nobody in the bar area had entered, I sat on the floor and dead front & centre with the view of the microphone. It was actually nice being alone, with the stage crew, and bopping to 60s Soul/R&B on the sound system.

At one point, I looked over to the right of the room by the sound board and I saw him(James) standing there(sorry, couldn't help the references). I made the mistake of blinking and when I turned my head back again, to avoid starring; he was gone.
No matter, as the opening act, Nicholas Stevenson  ( began playing. Stevenson was by himself with a solo guitar, and had some humourous intros. Even though I didn't know any of his songs, I did enjoy his guitar playing. After about two of his songs, I wondered if anyone had yet come in to hear the concert. I turned my head and couldn't understand why I was sitting down and no one standing in the back would move forward. It was rather unbelievable, actually. (Don't worry, I drew this photo to explain better)

I really had no choice but to stay put and ignore the embarrassment, with the knowledge that the audience would forgo my cooties and soon move up. Well, that didn't happen for the remainder of the opening act. As soon as Stevenson left the stage, a pub staffer, tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to move(Ed. Note: this became our blog's official nemesis, The Foot Bomber's only question later that evening back at home- "Why did you have to move?!?!?". The Foot Bomber could care less about my review of any McCartney Kids' gig). I proceeded to no longer be a rebel and moved towards "FOH" (Front Of House) to wait until the show started.

The zombie crowd unfroze and edged slightly forward and about 70 people now packed in the tight area. James McCartney appeared and a womans voice could be heard yelping cheers loudly. I looked across the crowd and clearly realised it was Stella McCartney. Walking up around my original dead front spot, taking Instagram photos, was Mary McCartney. Both of James's famous sisters had seemed to magically appear. By this time, I was convinced that James might start singing backwards from "Red Room\Twin Peaks" as stage lighting made him look red as well.

The set was about 45 minutes maximum. Everyone applauded every song strongly, regardless If a song was good or not. For example, he would sing some strong lyrics about people not looking beyond his name(obviously, his last name) and not knowing anything about him as an individual. Another song was "Ring O' Ring O' Roses", which unless you can stomach Paul's " Mary Had A Little Lamb" it was a cop out by sampling a nursery rhyme, which did come off sour. But, people applauded anyway and were very supportive despite any lyrical absurdities. His guitar playing, however, was top notch and this was worth the £10 GA ticket. (Yes, I said £10).

If it was not for the notable guitar skills, I might have gotten more fed up with his lack of personality with an audience. He didn't seem nervous at all, just indifferent to the fact that there was an audience watching. When the show ended, some people didn't even know he wasn't coming back for encores as he didn't really say any memorable words clearly like "Thanks Very Much". The set seemed to have one song from 2013's "Me" and possible new songs.

Not shocking, I never got to speak to a McCartney that night(whom magically reappeared again in the dining area), but I did my best to secure Set Lists and a branded "Me" guitar pick before deciding to split shortly after. As I walked down the street towards Islington Acadamy about fifteen teens were running frantically down the street a la Beatlemania to catch their own Japanese boy band idols. A good solitary reminder as to what other kinds of musical legacy Paul McCartney helped to spawn within his career. Not soon to fade away as James might prefer to do, but we shall see.

Not Saying Anything To Paul (and now James, Mary, and Stella) McCartney has a facebook group HERE and a Twitter Account HERE for those who want up-to-the-minute updates and extra content, like that James McCartney Guitar Pick Photo...

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