Sir Paul McCartney toasts former Beatles bandmates during gig at Cavern Club
Beatlemania has returned to Liverpool as Sir Paul McCartney performed in the Cavern Club.
The 76-year-old played a free gig in the venue, on Mathew Street, Liverpool, on Thursday afternoon.
About 270 fans packed into a sweltering room to see the singer, after they were given the opportunity to get free tickets by queuing at the Echo Arena box office on Thursday morning when the gig was announced.
The star played the guitar and the keyboard during his performance, which lasted almost two hours, and treated the crowd to Beatles classics including Love Me Do, Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, I Saw Her Standing There and Get Back, as well as songs from new album Egypt Station.
Opening the show, Sir Paul said: “Liverpool. Cavern. Those are words that go together well.”
He paused mid-song to ask fans, who had been told to turn phones off as they entered the gig, to stop taking photos.
He said: “It’s, like, putting me off and I don’t want to get put off.”
After playing Magical Mystery Tour he said: “All those years ago we came here and played and we didn’t know if we had any future. We did OK.
“Coming back here with all my guys and all my crew and stuff, it’s pretty amazing.”
Some fans were in tears during the performance, which was the first time since 1999 Sir Paul has returned to the club which is credited with being the birthplace of the Beatles.
When one fan shouted “Get the rounds in Paul”, after the star asked if the crowd was hot, Sir Paul joked “chuck him out”.
The star spoke about his memories of standing on the Cavern stage with his bandmates and said: “Here’s to them. Let’s hear it for John and George.”
Crowds gathered outside the club on Mathew Street in the hope of catching a glimpse of the singer, who gave fans a thumbs up as he drove in through the back entrance.
People had been queueing outside the venue since the early hours of Thursday as rumours of the “secret gig” spread.
Friends Ian Morris, Adam Samson, Michael Rogan and Mike Wallbank from Liverpool said they had arrived at the Cavern at 4am on Thursday.
Mr Morris, 26, said: “We did some detective work on Twitter and saw a picture of some stuff being loaded from a van which had the logos of his production company on.
“At about 9am someone in the queue got a call saying tickets were at the Echo Arena so everyone started running and we all got in taxis to get there.”
Gina and Paul Magee said they had originally thought the concert would be in the evening and after getting tickets had to ask for the day off work.
Mrs Magee said: “Luckily we’ve got very understanding bosses who said don’t let an opportunity like this go.”
Mr Magee added: “It’s once in a lifetime, isn’t it? I don’t think he’ll ever come to the Cavern again.”
Speaking after the gig James Ward, 30, who travelled from Newcastle in the hope of getting a ticket, said: “It was absolutely incredible.
“For the age of the man, he is just infectious.
“It was the greatest gig I’ve seen.
“We’re never going to get that again in this lifetime.”
The Beatles made more than 250 appearances at the cellar bar in the early 1960s.
The bar is now situated over the road from the original venue but is still a popular stop for Beatles’ fans visiting the city.