Rocking At The Palace Square (Audiofön AF 10)
Palace Square, St. Petersburg, Russia – June 20th, 2004
Disc 1 (71:33): Jet, Got To Get You Into My Life, Flaming Pie, All My Loving, Let Me Roll It / Foxy Lady, You Won’t See Me, She’s A Woman, Maybe I’m Amazed, The Long And Winding Road, In Spite Of All The Danger, Blackbird, We Can Work It Out, Here Today, All Things Must Pass, I’ll Follow The Sun, For No One, Calico Skies, I’ve Just Seen A Face, Eleanor Rigby
Disc 2 (68:15): Drive My Car, Penny Lane, Get Back, Band On The Run, Back In The U.S.S.R., Live And Let Die, I’ve Got A Feeling, St. Petersburg (improvisation), Lady Madonna, Hey Jude, Yesterday, Let It Be, I Saw Her Standing There, Helter Skelter, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise) / The End
Paul McCartney’s first show in Russia occurred in 2003 in Moscow and it took another year for his second. Close to the end of the 14 date ‘04 Summer Tour he made a return trip to Russia, this time in St. Petersburg. This show occurred two days after sixty-second birthday and, as it turns out, was his three thousand concert. The complete video tape was released several years ago on 04 Summer In Russia on MBE and eleven songs, “Jet,” “Got To Get Into My Life,” “Flaming Pie,” “Let Me Roll It,” “Drive My Car,” “Penny Lane,” “Get Back,” “Back In The USSR,” “I’ve Got A Feeling,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band (Reprise)/The End,” and “Helter Skelter,” are included on the officially released DVD Paul McCartney in Red Square. Audiofön presents the complete show sourced from a professionally recorded and mixed tape that sounds like an official release. The balance is flawless and clarity is perfect making this one of the best ever McCartney titles available.
The tape is excellent in capturing the excitement and warmth of the entire event, which the BBC reported, “Sir Paul McCartney has played his 3,000th concert before 60,000 fans in the Russian city of St Petersburg. The two-and-a-half hour open air show was late starting, due to strict security arrangements. It was Sir Paul’s first concert in the Russian city and the 3,000th time he has played since joining The Quarrymen at the age of 15. ‘I was amazed when people told me I’ll do my 3,000th gig on this tour,’ he said earlier this week. Sir Paul is thought to have played with The Beatles 2,523 times. He is also reported to have played 140 concerts with his band Wings and 285 as a solo artist.
“The singer celebrated his 62nd birthday on Friday, and President Vladimir Putin telephoned him to offer congratulations. The concert, in a city centre square near the Winter Palace, was a sell-out, with tickets changing hands for up to $500. There were 2,500 policemen on duty, with fans going through three security checks before being allowed to enter the square. The crowd sang along with most of the songs, the Beatles hit Back in the USSR proving particularly popular. Sir Paul addressed the audience in English and Russian and was wildly applauded when he returned for an encore carrying the Russian flag.”
The setlist remained the same as on the rest of the dates with a mix of some newer material, Wings hits and the Beatles classics all encapsulated in the opening three songs. The enthusiastic audience serenade Paul with “Happy Birthday” after “All My Loving.” The BBC report is accurate in describing the audience singing along to almost every tune and the mix captures that well. It is apparent especially when they play “She’s A Woman,” a particular favorite to St. Petersburg. (A friend of mine studied in St. Petersburg in the summer of 1992 and she told me that buskers in the subway would sing this song.)
After “The Long And Winding Road” Paul plays an acoustic set, which he introduces by saying, “this is the part of the show where everybody leaves me alone with you in Palace Square…do you understand my Russian? Not bad for an Englishman.” He continues with the story of his first recording before “Despite Of All The Danger” and afterwards quips “what do you expect for £5?”
An interesting subset occurs with “We Can Work It Out,” Lennon and McCartney’s song about working towards reconciliation and follows with “Here Today,” McCartney’s ode to his friendship to Lennon which can be seen somewhat as a coda to the Beatles tune. To include the other Beatle who passed away too soon, he sings George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass.” “I’ll Follow The Sun” is extended as far as possible and at the end of “For No One” Paul brings “I’ll Follow The Sun” back again for another coda.
A quick succession of hits follow before Laborial acknowledges this to be McCartney’s three-thousandth concert and asks the crowd if they want to see fire before the incendiary (both musically and visually) “Live And Let Die.” “St. Petersburg” in the setlist is a short catchy melody thanking the rain for not ruining the show and about how beautiful the city is. The final half hour of the show presents another succession of absolute classics that sounds like a list of the most influential songs ever recorded: “Yesterday,” “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be.” The final encore of the show is a long version of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” segued with “The End” from Abbey Road including all of the guitar and drum solos from the studio track. Afterwards the audience won’t leave and Paul has to convince them it really is the end of the show. Audiofön utilize a double slimline jewel case with attractive looking graphics on the artwork. Their last three McCartney releases have been very strong and they continue with this one as well.