What do you expect from a former Beatle in concert?
Having been born three months after John Lennon was shot, this writer's experience of the Lennon-McCartney back catalogue was through hand-me-down 12-inch records that I later put to the back of the shelf as the anti-Beatles bands, and the Beatles replacement bands (hello, Oasis), came to the fore. I'll be honest: the Beatles, the people and their stories don't have the resonance for me that perhaps they do for a different generation, but as a music lover, there's no denying many of the songs are timeless, unmatched. But can and should they still be sung by the person who wrote them?
That was my quandary as Sir Paul McCartney took the stage on the last night of Yasalam on Sunday, closing three nights of diverse and divisive acts over the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend. When McCartney began to sing, it was clear the 69-year-old wasn't on his strongest form at Yas Arena.
That wasn't so obvious in the more bluesy, banjo-led tracks, where he and his band of merry men, his quaintly entertaining musicians, could kick up their heels and just have a good old time.
But early on in tracks such as Maybe I'm Amazed, one of McCartney's most popular solo efforts, written shortly before the break up of the Beatles, I struggled to enjoy a personal favourite through his weak singing.
It got me thinking: what do we do with these songs now? We all want to hear them, but if the person who originally wrote and performed them can't do them justice, do they just not get played live? Are they condemned to a graveyard of X Factor cover performances? Or worse, a touring Abba-style musical showcase? Of course there are other musicians we'll only ever hear now on records: Lennon, of course; Kurt Cobain; Elvis, but somehow hearing McCartney's concert brought home how important it is to hear the tracks live while I can, and how lucky I was.
"It doesn't happen everyday, you know," said McCartney at one point during his two-hours-plus set, which veered from Beatles ( Day Tripper, Paperback Writer, Eleanor Rigby, Let It Be) to Wings classic Band on the Run and a touching tribute to his late bandmate George Harrison with Something, the first Harrison-written track to make a Beatles A-side.
Lennon also featured, beyond the co-written Beatles songs, with one song dedicated "to my friend John", which McCartney introduced in Arabic, the words written on the floor of the stage; and later, a rendition of the Lennon-Yoko Ono track Give Peace A Chance.
As the night drew to a close, the ex-Beatle seemed to gain enough voice to match his fun on-stage attitude with a powerful Live and Let Die thrilling the crowd as fireworks matched the explosive chords, and that eternal winner, Hey Jude, working its sing-along magic.