The first time I saw Paul McCartney in "concert" was during the Super Bowl pregame festivities in 2002. Sir Paul was the size of a pea, and it didn't help matters that there was a buzz around the stadium of a possible terrorist attack while we were left inside to wonder in the Louisiana Superdome.
I only saw about a minute of him during the half time show in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville. I went to get food, and by the time I got to the concessions, the stadium had run out (dead serious). For the most part I completely missed him, the Eagles lost the game, and I wound up at the only restaurant open after 10pm in Jacksonville: Taco Bell. Not exactly what I planned that evening.
At 68 years of age, who knows how long McCartney will continue to tour? So needless to say, I JUMPED at the opportunity to see him at the Wells Fargo Center Sunday night. If it was anything like Saturday night's show, which my old guitar player told me was one of the best shows he'd ever seen, I knew I was really in for an experience. After all, the Beatles ARE the reason I really got into music. To have seen pretty much all of my musical influences in concert with the exception of one of the surviving two Beatles (the other being Ringo Starr) is something I'd never forgive myself over if I missed the chance.
On what was the 45th anniversary of the Beatles' legendary concert at Shea Stadium (which he informed the audience), McCartney had the audience roped in from the start with "Venus and Mars/Rock Show," the rocker "Jet," and the early Beatles classic "All My Loving."
During the show, McCartney made it a point to pay tribute to his late wife Linda ("My Love") and deceased Beatles John Lennon ("Here Today") and George Harrison ("Something"). Beatles' tracks "I've Just Seen a Face" (from the British version of 1965's HELP!) and "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," (played in Philadelphia for the very first time on Saturday night's show) were also crowd pleasers. McCartney's voice has held up quite well with age. In fact, rockers "Band On the Run," "Back in the U.S.S.R," "I've Got a Feeling," "Day Tripper," and "Helter Skelter" were tracks that were not tuned down in order to accommodate his voice.
McCartney saved these for later in the set, as he paced himself during the first half with acoustic flavored tunes such as "Blackbird" and "Dance Tonight," from his 2007 album "Memory Almost Full." McCartney's Hofner bass was present for many songs, as well as his Epiphone Casino guitar (the SAME one he used on "Paperback Writer.") Other highlights of the night were the explosive "Live and Let Die" (and I literally mean explosive) as well as the set list closer and epic ballad "Hey Jude."
Watching him cheerfully parade through a whopping 38-song set list with no intermission proves that McCartney (despite his recent nasty divorce from Heather Mills) is not doing this for the money. After all, performing live for over 50 years (if you count the Beatles' club days) becomes a way of life. It's what he does best and it's what he knows best. McCartney and the band as a whole keep the atmosphere very loose. Especially drummer Abe Laboriel Jr., who puts subtle but tasteful touches on McCartney's catalog in addition to providing background vocals. Laboriel even provided the whistles during "Let 'Em In" while pulling off snare drum flams (sorry, drummers talk). Rounding out the band were Paul "Wix" Wickens (McCartney's keyboard player since his 1989 World Tour), guitarists Brian Ray and Rusty Anderson.
McCartney's appreciation for his legion of fans was evident as he constantly interacted them throughout the show. Telling stories of Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. He even called up two girls to the stage during the show's encore (one of them sporting a "RAM" tattoo from his 1971 album of the same name) to sign certain body parts for them (don't worry, he kept it clean!).
In fact, he's stronger than ever.
Venus & Mars/Rockshow
All My Loving
Drive My Car
Let Me Roll/Foxy Lady
The Long and Winding Road
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
Let 'Em In
I've Just Seen a Face
And I Love Her
Ram On Play
Sing the Changes
Band on the Run
Back In the U.S.S.R.
I've Got a Feeling
A Day In the Life/Give Peace a Chance
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
The EndLast Updated: 08/17/10 08:49