Paul Mc Cartney is rubbing his eyes, literally and metaphorically.
Literally, because when we meet this week he has just flown back from playing a private gig in Las Vegas.
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With Mc Cartney, the enthusiasm and passion for his day job is undimmed. Now there is a great young generation of people who can also do it, but it tends to be that the people packing them in are the people who have the material, have hits and – I think that's important – songs that people know. I don't want tickets not selling but then they ring me up and say Chicago's 40,000 seats sold out in six minutes, it's a record, and I didn't know it was even possible to sell out in six minutes, then you think of Madonna and Gaga and U2 and Coldplay and all the people who have played there and I just broke the record.“What it does for me is that it's not that I'm being kind of cute about it, it's more the fact that when a big show like that sells out in six minutes, I then know when I go on to that stage that those people were that keen to buy a ticket that I know they are my friends and we can have a good time. And I realise that in the early days half the reason for your nerves was you go on stage and think will they like me, will they like our songs?
I think they have stagecraft, they have an ability with an audience.“I'm still cautious. ”I'm talking to Mc Cartney in his Soho Square office.
He's excited about the TV special tonight, Live Kisses, in which he performs songs from his last album of standards Kisses on the Bottom, a mischievous title which is actually about signing kisses on a letter, a line from the opening number, “I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.” In a stylish black-and-white film, he performs as vocalist with no guitar, alongside Diana Krall on piano, a top jazz band and guest stars Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder.
Sir Paul Mc Cartney has been held up as a role model by Israel's populist new culture minister after she told the country's artistic community to wave the national flag and fight against the "delegitimisation" of the Jewish state.
Her comment came during a confrontational meeting at which she threatened to use her ministerial power to divert all arts funding to Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and peripheral areas rather than more liberal cosmopolitan cities like Tel Aviv, where artistic communities tend to congregate.
The meeting was held after Ms Regev, a former Israeli army spokesman with a reputation for strident statements against Arabs and African asylum seekers, provoked controversy by threatening to cut state funding for a children's theatre company in Tel Aviv.
The threat was issued after its director, Norman Issa, an Arab-Israeli actor, said he would not perform in a play in a settlement in the Jordan Valley, an area of the West Bank the Palestinian want as part of a future state.
It was subsequently withdrawn following criticisms by Gila Gamliel, the minister for minority equality and like Ms Regev, a member of the Right-wing Likud party.
Those attending the meeting described being taken aback by Ms Regev's tone, which one participant called "scathing and decisive".