Paul McCartney live: Mean Fiddler, London

Paul McCartney performed at the Mean Fiddler in Harlesden, London, England, on 10 May 1991.

It was the second of six shows in the Unplugged 1991 Summer Tour, which lasted from May-July 1991. The tour was prompted by the success of McCartney’s MTV Unplugged appearance and subsequent album.

Just 600 people saw the show at the Mean Fiddler. There was an acoustic set followed by an electric set.

There’s something about a club date to set the pulses quickening, more even than for an arena or stadium show. Perhaps this explained the buzz of expectancy inside the packed Mean Fiddler the evening of Friday May 10 1991. The little north London venue has seen some big names tread the tiny stage but none bigger than this night.

Perhaps, too, there was the realisation that – as proudly as a loyal fan could bandy the Maracana statistic – this was going to be Paul’s smallest gig in a long, long time. The smallest venue he had played since taking a final bow at the Cavern in August 1963. That long.

So six hundred fans thronged (and I mean thronged) the Mean Fiddler this night, people packed so tight that you could stand ten metres from the stage and still have to strain your neck and stand on tiptoe to see anything. But the atmosphere was accordingly electric – even for the acoustic set.

The other thing about club dates is that they seem to engender an extra degree of promptness about the musicians. Though Macca’s record for starting shows near enough to the stated time is streets ahead of most others, at the Mean Fiddler – as at Barcelona – he and the band strode onstage bang on the appointed dot, and when he said they’d take an ten-minute interval halfway through, ten minutes it was.

As in Spain, the first half celebrated Unplugged, with a baker’s dozen (not Geoff this time) of tracks from the then forthcoming LP. At times, Paul’s vocal was difficult to isolate above the massed terrace-style accompaniment of the 600. And when he took to the drums for Hamish’s wonderful ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’, it was another instant throwback to those Cavern nights of yore, for the young McCartney was something of a secret skin-brusher even then.

If the acoustic set went down a storm, the electric set was a hurricane. More vociferous audience accompaniment, a yet further arrangement of ‘Coming Up’, the Höfner Violin bass, a wheeled-on piano for ‘The Long And Winding Road’, ‘Let It Be’ and a sensational ‘Ain’t That A Shame’, more neck-craning and then those classic encores, the ultimate rock concert payoff, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ and the ‘Sgt Pepper’ jam that wowed audiences in 13 countries on that tour.

Their delight at having so easily adapted to the intimacy of the Mean Fiddler was clear to see on the faces of the band as, like actors in a play, they stepped forward to take a final, joyous arm-linked bow. “See you next time…we play this place,” announced Macca in a suitable variation of a World Tour au revoir. Ticketless fans locked outside the club, and a few score more thousand disappointed Londoners, are now praying for that next time.

Geoff Baker, publicist
Club Sandwich, Summer 1991

McCartney’s band was Linda McCartney on vocals, keyboards, and percussion; Hamish Stuart on guitar, bass guitar, and vocals; Robbie McIntosh on guitar and vocals; Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens on keyboards and vocals; and Blair Cunningham on drums and percussion.

Paul McCartney ticket – London, England, 10 May 1991

Concert setlist

Paul McCartney Unplugged Tour dates

  • 8 May 1991: Zeleste Club, Barcelona, Spain
  • 10 May 1991: Mean Fiddler, London, England
  • 5 June 1991: Teatro Tenda Partenope, Naples, Italy
  • 7 June 1991: Cornwall Coliseum, Carlyon Bay, England
  • 19 July 1991: Cliffs Pavilion, Westcliff-on-Sea, England
  • 24 July 1991: Falkoner Theatre, Copenhagen, Denmark
Last updated: 21 February 2024
Paul McCartney live: Zeleste Club, Barcelona
UK album release: Unplugged (The Official Bootleg) by Paul McCartney
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