Paul McCartney stunned shoppers in central London by playing a surprise, five-song show in Covent Garden this lunchtime (October 18).
News of the pop-up concert had been kept secret, but NME was first to break the news when stage gear bearing McCartney’s name was spotted in the centre of Covent Garden’s Piazza at 10.30am.
Hundreds of fans had gathered by the time McCartney confirmed the gig with a tweet at 12.15pm which read: “I’m getting ready to pop up in Covent Garden at 1pm today. Oh baby!”
The show was performed from a flatbed truck identical to the one McCartney sang on at a similar pop-up gig last week in New York’s Central Park.
The Beatles legend walked on stage at 1.30pm, witnessed by thousands of fans including workers thronged at the fire escape of the adjacent Dr Martens store.
Playing in front of a backdrop depicting the multi-coloured artwork from McCartney’s freshly-released album ‘New’, McCartney gave an exaggerated wave and yelled: “Welcome to Covent Garden! Get your phones out – as if they weren’t out already.”
Sat behind a multi-coloured keyboard, he and his four-piece backing band played the album’s title track.
All five songs were from ‘New’, despite the refrain from Beatles classic ‘Let It Be’ being clearly heard during the impromptu soundcheck earlier.
After the title track, Macca said: “Busking. I always wanted to busk here” as he introduced the album’s opening track ‘Save Us’.
McCartney announced: “We’re allowed 20 minutes up here, so we’d better be quick,” as he introduced third song ‘Everybody Out There’.
Before new single ‘Queenie Eye’, he referred to The Beatles’ partying lifestyle, saying: “Things have changed since the ’60s. We’d have been coming in from the clubs round about now, never mind having to get up and sing.”
Then, simply saying “We’re going to do the first one again”, McCartney performed ‘New’ again to end the show.
Bowing with his backing band, McCartney – dressed in a black jacket and white shirt with black high-neck collar – walked off to head for his signing session at the nearby HMV store in Oxford Street.
Fans were delighted by the show. Marcus Brooksmith said: “I saw rumours of it all on NME and thought it was worth a risk coming here. I’m so glad I did. I’d heard the new album on Spotify and thought it was great. Paul’s just convinced me to buy it now.”
Emma Taylor added: “I was at the South Bank when I saw rumours of it on Twitter. I didn’t think I’d make it in time. I just happened to be wearing a McCartney T-shirt today, it feels like fate. I’ve been a fan for 29 years, and this is as good as it gets.”
Paul McCartney played:
‘Everybody Out There’