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Paul McCartney shines on and off the stage

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Paul McCartney kicks off his latest U.S. tour tonight at the MGM Grand Garden arena.

What do greatness and outhouses have in common?

A few turds are to be expected -- and tolerated, even -- when it comes to both.

We tend to give those with exceptional talents a pass when it comes to being jerks.

History is riddled with genius b-holes: Thomas Edison, Frank Zappa, Triumph, the Insult Comedy Dog, just about any all-pro wideout, etc.

And so when someone is both brilliant and a good person, they're to be doubly lauded.

Which brings us to Paul McCartney.

He was in a band called The Beatles that was pretty influential, right up there with The Monkees and Megadeth.

He's arguably the most famous musician in the world, and deservedly so.

But more than that, he's also among the most beloved.

With McCartney performing in Vegas tonight, let's take a look at why the guy continues to be held in such high esteem:

He's Just A Really Nice Guy

By all accounts, McCartney should have an ego so big that it requires its own tour bus when the dude hits the road.

But in actuality, the opposite is true.

We've interviewed has-been hair farmers who haven't had a hit since "Diff'rent Strokes" was in prime time who have a more inflated sense of self than McCartney does.

The last time we spoke with him, two years ago, when he played The Joint, McCartney chatted nonchalantly for the better part of an hour about walking his kids to school and the books he was reading at the time.

It was like speaking with some old college buddy with whom you used to fashion bongs out of beer cans.

The guy is remarkably down to earth, and it's certainly not a pose for the press.

Anybody who's ever seen him in "Give My Regards to Broad Street" knows that he couldn't act if he wanted to.

He's Not Afraid to Take Chances

A few years ago, when Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme and Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl were putting together their ass-quakin' supergroup Them Crooked Vultures, McCartney got wind of the band and volunteered to serve as the group's bassist, according to Grohl, before the gig went to former Led Zep great John Paul Jones.

Granted, McCartney's joining that outfit would have been like tossing a puppy into a wood chipper -- c'mon, Sir Paul is just too genteel and sweet for the aptly named Vultures -- but the point is, McCartney is seemingly always willing to try something new.

And unlike many artists of his caliber, he's not overly precious about his back catalog, either.

When The Beatles' repertoire was being reconfigured for Cirque du Soleil's "Love" by producer George Martin and his son Giles, it was McCartney who urged the duo to push The Beatles' canon to its most far-out fringes.

"I was very keen to encourage the guys to be totally irreligious and not listen to any Beatles fans who would say, 'Oh no, you can't do this,' " McCartney told the R-J in 2009. "Ringo and I would go into the studio at Abbey Road where they were making it, and Giles would somewhat shyly say, 'Um, well, do you want to listen to this that I've done? I don't know if you're going to like it.' And we'd go, 'This is rockin' man, do more, take it further out.' I do love to be able to see things take new shapes."

He's Still Putting Out Relevant Material

McCartney's most recent solo album, "Electric Arguments," issued under The Fireman pseudonym, was equally kinetic and kaleidoscopic, ranging from porcelain-delicate pop to anthemic, Bic-in-the-air rock to blues as gritty as a thousand miles of gravel road.

Recorded in improvised, off-the-cuff fashion by Martin "Youth" Glover, bassist of U.K. post-punk greats Killing Joke, the disc has a free-range, boundless feel to it, as McCartney sounds like a man hurtling any and all expectations of what he's all about off a fast-moving train.

At times, he snarls like a big, bad hound dog with its tail clenched between the teeth of an even bigger, badder mutt (dust-kickin' rocker "Nothing Too Much of Sight"), at others, he sings with such tenderness, his voice could be packaged and sold as an artificial sweetener ("Two Magpies").

Really, the only thing off is the album's title, as there's really nothing to argue with at all here.

Last Updated: 06/10/11 12:50

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News Summary

Paul McCartney kicks off his latest U.S. tour tonight at the MGM Grand Garden arena.