The perfectionist in him won’t have enjoyed it, but, with his voice scratchy and strained, Paul McCartney sounded and looked exhausted as he closed the show at the Diamond Jubilee Concert.
Perhaps, though, his tiredness was to be expected. His short performance at Buckingham Palace was his 32nd in the past year, with all the others having lasted for two-and-a-half hours each.
In rock music terms, that’s more than marathon length in giving value for money. And, though he’s long been known for his boyishness, Paul McCartney is getting on. He’ll be 70 today.
He’s also, as one of the two surviving Beatles, one of the few people who can justifiably be referred to as a British national treasure — and not just for the treasure that as a major exporter of music, and never a tax exile like some of his peers, he’s brought to this country.
Of far greater importance has been his contribution to the cultural wealth of our nation, where playgroup children sing Yellow Submarine as a nursery rhyme, and residents of old folks’ homes join in to When I’m Sixty Four, and wish they still were.
His place in history has been assured for the past 40 years.
But that would be to overlook what pushes McCartney. Because, not only is he a man who just has to keep busy, he is a born entertainer.
It isn’t enough for him to simply write and record his songs and then go on holiday.
He needs to get out there and face the crowds, as he did when he wasn’t much more than a boy at Liverpool’s tiny Cavern Club — and again a few weeks ago before an audience of 200,000 in Mexico City.
Nor is it sufficient for him to limit his abilities to popular songs.
He’s written film scores and three major works of serious music as well as a ballet, while for the past 15 years he’s enjoyed a separate, virtually anonymous identity with the Fireman, a progressive electronic rock band. Then there were his book of poems and his exhibitions of paintings.
These side interests might not equal the degree of brilliance he demonstrated in his classic songs, Eleanor Rigby, Blackbird and Here There And Everywhere, but they are evidence of a man who has to keep stretching himself.