Chicago, IL, United Center.
I just finished the 2 hour drive from Chicago to Purdue, and I have just realized the magnitude of tonight’s events. I saw Paul McCartney. Cognitively, I knew this a month and a half ago, but it has only just registered. This man lives up to every possible standard I have ever set for him.
Prior to his entrance, there was a little surrealist party, so to speak, where men and women dressed as French and British royalty, Magritte paintings, and geishas met with contortionists and strong men, to some sort of trance music. No Revolution 9. This was all new. Next came the people carrying giant weather balloons; they all came on to dance in front of different scenery projected on a screen, imitating art from all the ages. It was like a mini Cirque du Soleil, everyone had their little act: the strongman lifting, the contortionist contorting… then the Acid Test. The music picked up and a giant Ganesha formed in the center of the screen. Colors swirled around, and the air got tense.
Black and White. A man and his bass. A chord was struck and you could see his silhouette moving closer. The scrim lifted, and he was there. Live, and in person, albeit very small from my seats, there he was. Paul McCartney. Of The Beatles. After two chords I knew what song he was playing, and I san along from the first words.
“You say yes. I say no. You say stop. And I say go go go. Oh no. You say goodbye and I say hello. Hello, hello. I don’t know why you say goodbye I say hello.”
Suddenly I knew what all the screaming teenagers in the ‘60’s were feeling. Beatlemania had sunk in hardcore. I had always been so sad that I had been to young to catch it, and was guilt ridden. My mother was more so. She grew up in the ‘60’s and had never been able to get Beatles tickets, and cursed herself for 37 years. She was giddy. She kept looking at me, telling me how cute Paul still was.
A little old for me, I must admit, but she was right. Paul looked great. His voice hasn’t changed a bit, and he still has an edge and some attitude. Far different from some aging rock stars that I have been less than thrilled with (Neil Diamondand Joni Mitchell. Paul McCartney has no reason to tour except for his joy in doing so. You could feed a small country for years off of the Beatles royalties. He is in love with his audience, and they love him.
He went on to play “Jet,” a popular wings song, then “All My Loving” and “Getting Better.” Almost of the songs, to my delight, were old Beatles songs, with a few big Wings hits. The rest of his 3 hour set was occupied by a “Vanilla Sky” and a few songs off his new album, “Driving Rain.” (I found the title song to be excellent).
The most striking part of the show was his tribute to his old friends. In loving memory of his departed best friend, a teary eyed McCartney played to a teary eyed audience “Here Today,” A song written when John Lennon died, sort of a dialogue between himself and John, if John was still there. It was very moving, and beautiful.
Paul then went on to do a tribute to George Harrison in a quite different manner. He told us a story. Apparently George was “A very fine Ukulele player” and after they had had something to eat, he would pass the Ukuleles out. And whoever was there would sit there and jam. Paul played his tribute to George, “Something” on the Ukulele. It was a good way to follow up John’s tribute (quite serious), with the kind of thing that brings back fond memories.
When Paul played “Freedom” a giant Keith Haring painting of the Statue of Liberty was hung from the ceiling. Paul carried around an American flag, and showed his support for our country.
His reproductions of “Back in the U. S. S. R.” and “Live or Let Die” were as full of energy as when they were first created, “Live or Let Die” complete with pyrotechnics (yay fire!). McCartney discussed the various strange massages he’d received throughout the years in foreign countries, then taught us the meaning of “C Moon.” He extrapolated it from the line in “Wooly Bully,” “Don’t be an L7” (L7 makes a square). Well, Paul thought it would be fun to make a circle, thus the C and the Moon.
Sir James Paul McCartney played for three hours, and two encores. Every major song that I could have ever wished to hear in a three hour period was played. I was in heaven, hearing my favorite songs played live by the author himself. In his final encore he played “Yesterday” followed by the reprise to “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. Followed, quite appropriately by “The End,” the master of ceremonies left the stage to thousands of maybe-I’m-amazed eyes.
This music touched people of all ages in the arena tonight. Elderly, Authentic Beatlemaniacs, college students and small children were screaming, singing and dancing the night away. It was a most amazing sight.
All My Loving
Let Me Roll It
Your Loving Flame
We Can Work It Out
Mother Nature’s Son
Carry That Weight
Fool on the Hill
Here There and Everywhere
Band on the Run
Back in the U. S. S. R.
Maybe I’m Amazed
Can’t Buy Me Love
Live and Let Die
Let It Be
Long and Winding Road
Saw Her Standing There
Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)/The End
In short, Paul was fabulous. I have never been to a better concert in my life.
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”