I ordered Paul McCartney tickets on a whim. When I say a whim, I mean I ordered tickets the day I found out Paul was going to be in Texas. Ticket price didn’t matter, driving time didn’t matter – all of that stuff could be worked out later. I just knew that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I was going to take full advantage of it. After the realization of seeing a music legend and one of the two remaining members of The Beatles in concert, I freaked out.
And for good reason. Sir Paul McCartney, at 67 years of age, can still rock it. The man, in my humble opinion, is one of the most accomplished and talented singers and songwriters to have ever lived. Seeing him in concert only further validates that point. In short, Paul’s performance was flawless. He is a veteran to the stage, no doubt about that. But more importantly, he put on a show that was full of passion and energy. It was powerful. It was phenomenal. It was (insert synonym of choice here).
Unfortunately, not everyone saw it the way I saw it. I suppose some people don’t really think seeing one of the world’s most successful and popular musicians of all time is really a big deal. Enter Mr. McCartney. He walks on stage to a rouse of applause and shoots straight into “Drive My Car.” I’m singing, clapping, dancing. The people behind me are throwing things, yelling, cussing. You want me to sit down while Paul McCartney is still within 500 yards of the stadium? It’s only two minutes into the concert. Heck, even when an artist leaves the stage, people stand up. But, sit down during the show?
After a nasty reaction and a humbling of pride, I submitted to sitting down for the first half of the concert. While the experience was a bit tainted, I still soaked up every musical note that resonated through the arena. Paul cranked out some superb solo material during this first half: “Jet,” “Only Mama Knows,” “Let Me Roll It,” and “Highway.” And he was just getting warmed up.
Paul’s set was not devoid of a few tributes, which shows how much he truly appreciated his family and friends. He even stopped to play a little tribute to guitar great Jimi Hendrix with “Foxy Lady.” The first of the touching tributes, however, was to Paul’s late wife, Linda. He dedicated “My Love” to all of the couples in the audience and was quick to add, “I’ve got my eye on you lovers…” After this, Paul stopped for a bit to explain the next song he was going to play. “Blackbird,” was a song written about an African American girl who was growing up during the civil rights movement (Paul was alive and kickin’ in the 60s after all). He put himself in this character’s shoes and imagined what it would be like to “fly away” and “be free” from the racial discrimination. This added so much meaning to the song and was one of my favorites of the night.
He then played an emotional tribute to John Lennon with the song, “Here Today.” I could see the tears in Paul’s eyes and I had tears in mine as well. It was a moving moment, to say the least. Since the mood was getting a little heavy for Paul’s liking, he wittingly said, “Now, that everyone is on the brink of suicide,” and decided to pick it up with “Dance Tonight.” He then paid homage to one of The Beatles’ personal musical influences (and native Texan, which Paul was smart to point out) Buddy Holly. Paul and the band played a great little cover of “It’s So Easy,” which made the elderly women in front of me jump up with glee and shake it like it was still 1958.
Despite the awesome music, I was still reeling over the fact that I was sitting down during such an important event. But, Paul cheered me up with “Band on the Run,” and not until that song did I start to let go of the prior events and start enjoying myself. He then played some more rockers with “Back in the USSR” and “I’m Down.” The final tribute of the night came in the form of George Harrison’s “Something.” Paul first played the song on the ukulele, since George was fond of the instrument. Then, the band stepped in and they played another touching cover of the late Beatle.
“I’ve Got a Feeling” followed and I must say Paul did something I was not expecting at all. At the end of the song, Sir Paul McCartney busted out a guitar solo. Yes, guitar solo. But I thought he played bass? Yes, he plays bass, be he also plays the guitar. It was probably nothing special. No, it was like an Eric Clapton/Carlos Santana guitar solo. I don’t think there is anything this man is incapable of doing. Prove me wrong. I dare you to!
Moving on. My sister’s favorite song of the night came in “A Day in the Life.” I wasn’t expecting this tune to be played live, but it was – and was it excellent. Instead of singing John’s final verse of the song, Paul had everyone join him in singing “Give Peace a Chance.” He let the crowd take over and chant, “All we are saying… is give peace a chance.” Another great moment of the night.
My favorite song found Paul at the piano with “Let it Be.” I am confident enough to fully admit that I cried during this song. Literal tears were streaming down my cheeks. This song has a lot of personal meaning to me and it was an amazing thing to experience live. And then came the grand fireworks show… what!? Fireworks? Yes. It would not be a complete performance of “Live and Let Die” without some fireworks. It was bright, it was loud, it was awesome! After the smoke dissipated and the crowd noise died down, Paul started into the moment I had been waiting for – “Hey Jude.” Over 7 minutes of amazingness. Thousands of people singing together with one voice. I could never get tired of that sound.
At this point in the show, everyone decided to stand. I was standing before that, but I guess the rest of the 50,000 plus people didn’t get the memo until then. Anyway. Mr. McCartney’s first encore consisted of the always-popular “Day Tripper,” the peppy “Lady Madonna,” and the classic “I Saw Her Standing There.”
You see, normal bands, like U2 or Coldplay, have an encore and then they exit stage right and make their way back to their private jets. Not Paul McCartney. Nope. He’s in another league – the “I have two encores” type of league. Paul’s second encore began with the alleged most-covered-song-in-music-history, “Yesterday.” Then came the rock. No one could ever claim that Paul is not a rock and roll musician after sitting through his performance of “Helter Skelter.” I’ve been to many concerts which featured young, vibrant twenty-something’s who consider themselves “rock bands” and Paul can keep up with the best of them.
And of course, after blowing us away with that little number, he blows us away again with “Get Back,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise),” and “The End.” And, unfortunately, it was the end. But, allow me to quote a song title from a band that shouldn’t really be mentioned in a Paul McCartney concert review – “The end is here… The end is beautiful.” And it was.