After years of near-misses, I finally saw Paul McCartney live. It was an effort – I worked the day, split at 4 pm to drive 3 hours to D.C., and then saw Paul at the Verizon Center, D.C.’s downtown home of the Capitals and Wizards. I caught about 4 hours of sleep after the show, got up at 5 and drove back to Philly to put in another full day of work. The difficult life of a rock blogger! But it was worth it. McCartney is such a pantheon of rock that he is a “must see” for everyone who has the opportunity to check out his live show.
Nope, I’m not a fan of Wings. Yup, Paul played some Wings songs. Nope, I don’t follow Paul’s ongoing career. Yup, Paul played some new music. Hells yes, I am a huge Beatles fan, and hells yes, Paul played a bunch of Beatles songs. And that, my friends, was what made this effort so worth it. As the guy next to me said, “I never thought I would get to hear live Beatles music played by one of the Beatles.” Exactly. And that was what basically everyone in the audience wanted to hear: the old, great Beatles songs that make up such a huge part of classic rock songbook.
So I chilled while he played some new stuff of minimal interest (at least it wasn’t as bad as Silly Love Songs or Let Him In). And I grooved somewhat to the best of the Wings repertoire: Band on the Run, Live and Let Die, and Maybe I’m Amazed. But what really got me and everyone else up and jamming were the Beatles songs, faithfully reproduced note for note by Paul and a solid back-up band.
Cudos to Paul for the following: great performer chops – this guy knows what he is doing on stage; giving 2 ½ hours of entertainment; playing a wide variety of instruments; honoring his fallen Beatles comrades, John and George, with tender tributes; and playing some fabulous Beatles tunes almost note for note – tunes like Love Me Do, Yesterday, Back in the USSR, Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite, We Can Work it Out, A Hard Day’s Night, Can’t Buy Me Love, Birthday, Lady Madonna, Hey Jude, Eleanor Rigby. I know that I missed some songs that he played, and oh how I wished he had played Do You Want To Know A Secret, Twist and Shout and my all-time favorite, I Saw Her Standing There. But I’m pretty satisfied with what he played.
A few quibbles: Paul’s voice, while generally still solid, lacks the range that it once had. I don’t know if it’s the length of this current tour showing its strain, or the fact that the dude is in his mid-70s and, well, he isn’t immortal, but some songs were a challenge for him. Also, unlike Stevie Wonder, who travels with about 40 incredible musicians/singers, Paul only brought along a 5 piece band and could have used some better backup vocals and not relied so much on synthesizers to reproduce horns and other instruments that were used in the studio back in the day.
But those are minor cons compared to the many pros of this show. Paul still has it – he looks great, moves with the grace and ease of a man 20 years younger than his real age, clearly enjoys what he is doing, and continues to pursue a career that has spanned over 50 years. It was really cool to see him, fantastic to hear some classic Beatles tunes played live and at volume in front of an adoring all-ages crowd, and we had a great time. I recommend seeing him. And like I said earlier, he isn’t immortal, and the chances of catching his live show are dwindling. So if you get the opportunity to see the master at play, do yourself a favor and go. We made a big effort, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Here are some photos. A couple of comments on them. We had good seats, maybe 30 rows up but they were on the side. That explains the angle. There were some huge screens that projected Paul and the boys for those further back, and at one point I took a picture of Paul along with the screens – I tried to capture the effect of what it was like to be at the show itself, and hope that the pic does it a bit of justice. And during Live and Let Die, they used pyrotechnics – that explains the pictures with the fire in them. The pyro stuff was old-fashioned cool in a way, but we could feel the heat where we were sitting, and I’m glad that they worked as designed. He also used laser lights. Haha, laser lights! Anyway, here are the pictures:
I have a lot of shows coming up, and I’ll be keeping you up to speed with my reviews. I don’t want to give away the agenda, but suffice to say that some are really old school, some as old as me (so middle-aged school?), and some pretty new and happening today. It should be great!
As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy both the post and the photos. I’ll catch up with you soon. In the meantime, put on a Beatles album and have some fun!
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.