After five decades, fan thrilled for Paul McCartney concert
When Paul McCartney takes to the stage at Yas Island this Sunday, it's likely the majority of the audience won't have ever seen the 69-year-old performer play as part of the world's most famous musical line-up.
For one man who will be in the crowd, however, the Formula One closing concert will be the second time he's seen Macca, listed in the Guinness World Records as the "most successful musician and composer in popular music history", perform live. The first time was in the town of Nelson, northern England, almost half a century ago, when Trevor Stott-Briggs was 13.
"It was the Mersey Sound tour in July 1963," says the Abu Dhabi resident of almost five years. "And it was one of The Beatles' first-ever tours."
Having completed their famous Hamburg chapter, The Beatles first began venturing out of Liverpool's Cavern Club and across the UK, mainly in the north of England, in January 1963, following on from the moderate success of their first single, Love Me Do, a few months earlier. But by the time the band came to the Imperial Ballroom in Nelson that summer, both their next singles (Please Please Me and From Me To You) had reached number one and their debut LP Please Please Me, released in May, was still topping the album charts. The term "Beatlemania" hadn't yet been coined, but it was already a concept well under way, and while The Beatles were one of about seven bands on the Mersey Sound tour, which also included Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Searchers, it was clear that they were the act everyone wanted to see.
"It was a Saturday night and I persuaded four or five of my friends to go," says Stott-Briggs, now 62. "But because we were only little kids, we needed to be at the front to see anything." So Trevor and his friends began waiting at the door at 3pm, hours before the concert started. "When the doors finally opened at 6 o'clock we charged in and managed to get one of the sofas they'd put at the front. We thought the bouncers would move us, but they didn't."
The young Stott-Briggs' central seat proved to be an advantageous position, and McCartney, Lennon, Harrison and Starr, clad in their iconic suits, played their early hits just metres away. His position at the front also meant he had to deal with the numero us female fans who had fainted from excessive screaming. "All the night through they were passing unconscious girls over our heads and then carrying them backstage to revive them."
That Beatles' show in 1963 was the first concert Stott-Briggs ever went to and helped fuel a love affair with music that continues to this day. In his later teenage years, he grew his hair long to emulate the Fab Four, a move that saw him repeatedly punished at school. "I used to get caned on a regular basis because I refused to cut it short and had it over my ears."
With his Beatles' haircut and also wearing clothes like the band, Stott-Briggs was also mistaken for McCartney on several occasions, disappointing several fans who thought they were stood behind the musician.
McCartney's F1 gig should be a high point for what has been a bad year for Stott-Briggs. In February, a rugby accident in Sharjah resulted in him seriously injuring his spinal cord. At first, doctors weren't sure if he'd be able to walk again, but an operation, followed by ongoing treatment at the Rochester Wellness Rehabilitation Clinic in Dubai, has seen him make significant progress in his road to recovery.
Although he might not be able to watch Macca from just metres away, as he did as a 13-year-old in Nelson, Stott-Briggs' current condition might see him given a seat closer to the stage. "They actually do special seating for the F1," he says, "so I'm wondering what they're going to do." In fact, he's hoping he might get a chance to meet his idol, perhaps to check if they still look alike.
And as for the songs, although he'd love McCartney to play some of The Beatles' older tracks, he's really not that concerned.
"It'd be fantastic if he did play A Hard Day's Night, but I think that's a bit of a John Lennon vocal. But anything, it doesn't matter. I'm sure it's going to be brilliant."
Published: November 10, 2011 04:00 AM