Friday, 26 September 2008


By MATTHEW KALMAN in Jerusalem
DAILY EXPRESS, Friday September 26, 2008

SIR Paul McCartney defied death threats and demonstrators as he took to the stage in Tel Aviv last night in front of more than 50,000 adoring fans.

He announced himself by declaring: "I am bringing a message of peace."

It seemed a long and winding road from the time, 43 years ago, when an over-protective Israeli government banned The Beatles for fear they would corrupt the nation's youth.

In a concert entitled Friendship First, Sir Paul, aged 66, played a selection of his hits spanning nearly 50 years, taking in Fab Four standards from the early 60s, through his days with Wings to the present.

He was paid about £1million for the performance.
The former Beatle's visit took place amid one of the largest security operations mounted in Israel for someone who is not a head of state.

His concert has been given the status of a state visit. Radio stations have been playing wall-to-wall Beatles music all week, weddings have been re-scheduled, theatre performances cancelled and most Tel Aviv clubs closed to avoid competing with the big event.

More than 5,000 security guards and police were stationed around the Yarkon Park stadium. The gates were opened three hours before the performance as hundreds of police battled to prevent the Israeli capital from becoming gridlocked by concert-goers.

Paul and his new love Nancy Shevell, 47, arrived in the small hours of Wednesday and checked into the Royal Suite at the Dan Hotel  – one of the 21 suites and 70 rooms booked for the 100-strong team of musicians, technicians and hangers-on. 

The couple spent the morning sunbathing on the hotel balcony overlooking the Mediterranean before making a quiet visit to Palestinians in the West Bank.

Their original plan had been to visit the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Ramallah, but word leaked out and anti-Israel protesters staged a demonstration outside the school. 
To the alarm of his security advisers, Sir Paul decided instead to go to the conservatory's branch in Bethlehem, also in the West Bank.

To the delight of the 160 students, he sat in on a class, then produced a harmonica and played them a tune.

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