music transport

The Marvel of McCartney

Some of my favourite music and a smooth train ride to and from the venue made for a great night.

Paul McCartney at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night. Great show.

Before the concert, huge crowds filed across from Southern Cross Station to the stadium… enough to make the pedestrian bridge flex noticeably.

Fans walk across the Bourke Street Bridge at Southern Cross Station to Marvel Stadium, 21/10/2023

I discovered that the Ticketmaster app is a bit crap. I’d retrieved the tickets in the app with no problems before reaching the area. When we got there, I opened it up again. It had forgotten them (why?!), and sat in a re-load loop for ages. I appreciate that mobile network congestion can be an issue, but it was actually quicker to open the web link sent in the booking email.

As we entered the stadium, one of the venue staff remarked to me: “Hope the trains are running on time!” Yes sir, they were. If only the app was too.

Note to others going to this tour: once the video montage starts, you’ve still got about 30 minutes to go to the toilet or get a drink. It’s fine, but for this impatient audience member, dragged on a bit.

The show itself was terrific. I’ll spare you all the details, but there’s a set list here, and this review makes a good point that Paul and the band played twice as many Beatles songs as the Beatles themselves played when touring in 1964. Other reviews (with far better photos than I could take): The Age, The Music, Australian Musician.

Usually with Beatles songs written by Lennon/McCartney, you can tell who mostly wrote it by who sung it. So I was a bit surprised to hear McCartney sing Mr Kite – originally sung by Lennon, though Wikipedia reckons both have claimed to have contributed to it.

As much as I love Beatles songs, my favourite (among many highlights) might have been Wings’ Band On The Run – because I didn’t expect it. The contrasting parts, a crescendo in the middle leading into the third section – it’s great, and most of the stadium seemed to be singing along.

The main set finished with Hey Jude, another great one for a singalong.

Video of John Lennon singing "I've got a feeling" at the Paul McCartney concert in Melbourne 21/10/2023

Amazingly, some people (even in the not-so-cheap seats where we were) got up and left before the encore started. Do they not know how it works? No house lights = more music to come. And they missed some of the best stuff, including the much anticipated, and moving, virtual duet with John Lennon on I’ve Got A Feeling using footage from the Get Back documentary.

I’ve seen McCartney once before, in 1993 at the MCG. He’s now 81… we should all hope to be this energetic at that age.

After almost 3 hours of music, we filed out.

Crowds walking from Marvel Stadium to Southern Cross station

I haven’t been to a big event here before, but I’m not convinced that the placement of so many buildings around Marvel Stadium was a good idea. What was once a big capacious concourse is now a kind of open air tunnel that doesn’t cope well with crowds.

But perhaps it was considered, to help slow down the masses entering Southern Cross Station. There, things seemed quite manageable – though train carriages closest to the entrance were utterly packed.

A crowded train departing Southern Cross for Sandringham after the Paul McCartney concert, 21/10/2023

What could they do about this? Could they add ramps from the Bourke Street concourse to distribute people further along the platforms? Probably too hard.

In the short term, repeated announcements advising how long before the train departs, and encouraging people to walk along the platform would help.

As more walk-through train designs come online, passengers could be encouraged to walk through the train. This is already possible to an extent with the current fleet.

Trains at Southern Cross Station following the Paul McCartney concert on 21/10/2023
Sandringham train departing platform 13, Craigieburn train departing platform 14 (despite advertised as that line’s usual platform, 11)

The timing of extra services home seemed okay to me – we had a smooth journey and the crowds seemed to be moving okay after reaching the station – though some lines missed out on extra services.

The inbound extras seemed a little early – mostly arriving around 5pm. Perhaps they expected many people to have a pre-concert dinner near the venue, which is fair enough, though we and many others didn’t.

As ever, a more frequent regular timetable would help deal with diverse travel patterns. There were plenty of other events on Saturday night, including the Happy Mondays playing at the Forum, numerous theatre events such as Tim Minchin live, and the Fringe Festival, as well as hundreds of smaller events across Melbourne.

PTV notice of extra trains for the Paul McCartney concert

As usual the notice undersells the PT offering, by only mentioning the extra services. Most Metro lines effectively had a train every 10-15 minutes between about 11:15pm and midnight – as well as all night services if people wanted to have a post-concert meal or drink.

But overall the PT seemed smooth, and the concert was a joy. A very enjoyable night.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

6 replies on “The Marvel of McCartney”

Glad you had a good time. Great that Melbourne has lots of venues and public transport nearby.
I was surprised that Metro knew (in advance) when to run the extra trains. I would have thought the finishing time of a pop concert would be difficult to judge, unlike most sporting events.

Note the Moorabbin trains on the Frankston Line…the last “through” train was at 22:50 at Southern Cross before the line closed down for a fortnight to remove the old Parkdale Station and connect up the temporary track along Como Parade East

Once again, closing the line at 1am Sunday morning rather than 11:30pm Saturday night could have helped more get home without the need to crowd onto replacement buses…one bus came through Mordialloc about 12:30am with about 70 onboard including plenty of weary concert goers, many over 50

I have had that problem with the Ticketmaster App too.

I find it is always best to save tickets into the IPhone wallet so you can always bring them up when needed. I still prefer physical tickets though, as they are faster for staff to scan at the gate, particularly when you have tickets for multiple family members on your phone.

@Craig, yes – this is pretty irritating. I know in some cases they have looked at major events and pushed back the rail closure times in response. Even moving it back by 60 minutes would have helped a lot. Not sure why they didn’t (or couldn’t?) this time.

@Ross, I’ll try the iPhone wallet option next time. I did see it, and should have taken notice when it said mentioned it could avoid issues with network congestion. I guess I didn’t appreciate how bad it could be.

I was at that concert too and it was great fun. I feel lucky to have been able to see an actual Beatle on stage (albeit from over 100 m away). The Apple wallet is very useful unless ticket sellers disable it. I’ve had one ticket that couldn’t be added to the wallet and can’t remember if it was Ticketmaster or Ticketek, but it was one that is only available hours before the gig and is animated to stop you doing a screenshot. And that was just for a cheapish gig at Crown!

I had to use the ticketek app recently and it said due to security I couldn’t do a screenshot of the ticket… so I took a photo of my phone screen using my tablet and emailed the photo to myself. Unfortunately it appears that the person who sold me my ticket also sold my seat to someone else and I was asked to show my ticket again at interval. The ushers weren’t sure if my photo was eligible for me to sit where I was, but they let me stay seated even though I couldn’t open the app once I was inside Hamer Hall.

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