McCartney wows fans with historic Israel concert

Fri Sep 26, 2008 9:08am EDT
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By Allyn Fisher-Ilan

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Paul McCartney gave his first concert in Israel on Thursday before tens of thousands of cheering fans, 43 years after the Beatles were barred from singing there because of fears they could corrupt youngsters.

Security was tight at Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv and media reports in Britain said an Islamist militant had threatened the ex-Beatle, while some Palestinians urged him to cancel his trip over Israel's occupation of the West Bank since 1967.

The 66-year-old ignored the demands, but delighted Palestinian fans during his visit to the region when he went to the West Bank city of Bethlehem, lit candles at the Church of the Nativity there and wished for peace for Palestinians.

McCartney opened the Tel Aviv gig with Beatles song "Hello Goodbye," and addressed the 40,000 fans in Hebrew and Arabic as well as English throughout the evening.

"Shalom Tel Aviv!" he said, using the Hebrew word for "peace" and "hello." The ex-Beatle also wished the crowd a happy new year in Hebrew ahead of Jewish celebrations next week and wished Muslims a good Ramadan, the month of fasting, in Arabic.

McCartney, who wore a dark suit over a pink shirt, dedicated Wings track "My Love" to Linda, his wife who died of cancer in 1998, and also paid tribute to late Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison.

Teenaged girls were reduced to tears and the crowd waved its arms in the air as the star performed some of his biggest hits during two hours of almost non-stop music.

Among the favorites were "Give Peace a Chance" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," the closing number.   Continued...

<p>British musician Paul McCartney performs during his concert in Tel Aviv September 25, 2008. REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen</p>