Monday, July 29, 2013

Concert Review: Paul McCartney at Miller Park

Paul McCartney

Two weeks ago my wife and I made the road trip from Saint Paul to Milwaukee to see Paul McCartney at Miller Park on July 16th. Paul put on an amazing show, as always. I’ve been lucky enough to see Paul live twice before, once at the Metrodome in 1993, and once at the Xcel Center in 2005. All of his shows that I’ve seen have been outstanding; he’s a great live performer. At the concert in Miller Park Paul played for close to 3 hours, singing 36 hits spanning his entire career. I’m blown away by McCartney’s energy and passion for performing. It’s very clear that he’s still giving 100% on every single song he sings, even if it’s a song like “Hey Jude” that he’s sung many, many times. McCartney’s stamina is incredible, especially considering that he’s 71, and the fact that it was close to 90 degrees when he started the show. 

McCartney’s band is pretty great-they’ve all been with him for more than 10 years, and it’s definitely the best band he’s had since, well, The Beatles. Keyboardist Paul “Wix” Wickens has been with Paul the longest, since 1989. Guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray and drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr., have all been with Paul since 2002. All of the members of the band do a great job making Paul’s music come alive night after night. McCartney usually performs the songs in a manner that very closely replicates their original studio versions, which keeps the fans happy. I wouldn’t mind if Paul took a few more chances by rearranging some of the songs now and then, but why tamper with perfection? 

Paul opened with the 1964 classic “Eight Days a Week,” followed by one of my favorite Wings songs, the 1974 single-only “Junior’s Farm.” Paul then played “All My Loving,” which is nearly 50 years old! And he can still hit all those notes 50 years later! “All My Loving” is also the first song the Beatles sang on the Ed Sullivan show. Paul then went back to the Wings years for great versions of “Listen to What the Man Said,” and the rocking “Let Me Roll It,” on which Macca showed off his guitar chops. Paul also pulled out the Epiphone Casino guitar that he used on the original recording of “Paperback Writer.” Paul played some funky piano on the Wings song “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five,” which was very rocking. I realize that I’m talking about just about all of the songs he sang, but when all 36 songs are some of the best rock songs ever written, it’s hard not to say something about them all. Paul also played “The Long and Winding Road” and “Maybe I’m Amazed” at the piano. He did some songs that he hasn’t performed much before, like “We Can Work It Out,” and the lovely “Another Day,” those were a treat to hear. Paul performed solo on “Blackbird” and the moving “Here Today,” his tribute to John Lennon. I don’t know how Paul can sing “Here Today” every night of the tour without choking up. It’s a wonderful song, and it’s great that he sings it for his friend John. Paul then returned to the piano to play a song he’s never performed live before this tour, “Your Mother Should Know,” from the “Magical Mystery Tour” film and album. And while “Your Mother Should Know” might be a lesser entry in the entire McCartney catalogue, I have a soft spot for it. And it’s so cool to hear a Beatles song that I never thought I would get to hear a Beatle sing live. Paul also sang “All Together Now” and “Lovely Rita” for the first time on this tour, and it was great fun to hear these wonderful songs come to life. Macca returned to the Wings era with the amazingly catchy “Mrs. Vandebilt,” with its simple chorus of “Ho, hey ho.” (This was a very popular song in the Ukraine, according to Paul.) Paul then sang a lovely version of the moving “Eleanor Rigby” before turning to a song from “Sgt. Pepper” more closely associated with John Lennon, “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” I had heard Paul sing “Mr. Kite” on “The Colbert Report” in June, and I was really surprised that he was singing a song of John’s. But he has periodically sung a couple of John’s songs in concert before, and I think that if anyone can sing those songs well, it’s Paul McCartney. I also just read in “Rolling Stone” that “Mr. Kite” was a song that he co-wrote with John, which I didn’t realize. The next song was Paul’s tribute to his other late band mate, George Harrison, “Something,” played on the ukulele. It’s a great way to remember George, and I think that George would have enjoyed it. Up next was another song that Paul’s playing for the first time on this tour, the White Album favorite “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” (Paul sang the correct lyrics this time, so Desmond wasn’t “doing his pretty face,” unlike the studio version.) The ending of the concert featured rocking versions of “Band on the Run,” “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” and “Live and Let Die,” complete with fireworks, as usual. Paul also played the anthems “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude.” The first encore featured the Wings song “Hi, Hi, Hi,” one of my favorite Wings rockers. Paul ended the concert by playing the closing medley from “Abbey Road,” which is probably the coolest way you could close a concert. The trading guitar solos part of “The End” was quite a bit longer in concert, and you could see the joy on the faces of Paul, Rusty, and Brian as they played. 

Paul McCartney is my favorite musician, and it was an amazing and wonderful experience to see him in concert again. The feeling in the air during the concert was one of love and good vibes. Everyone at the concert was having a great time, and Paul seemed very thrilled by the warm welcome he got. Hopefully he’ll play Target Field in Minneapolis next summer. I’ve got my fingers crossed for that!

Here’s the set list from Paul’s show at Miller Park:

  • Eight Days A Week
  • Junior's Farm
  • All My Loving
  • Listen To What The Man Said
  • Let Me Roll It
  • Paperback Writer
  • My Valentine
  • Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five
  • The Long And Winding Road
  • Maybe I'm Amazed
  • I've Just Seen A Face
  • We Can Work It Out
  • Another Day
  • And I Love Her
  • Blackbird
  • Here Today
  • Your Mother Should Know
  • Lady Madonna
  • All Together Now
  • Lovely Rita
  • Mrs. Vandebilt
  • Eleanor Rigby
  • Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
  • Something
  • Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
  • Band on the Run
  • Back in the U.S.S.R.
  • Let It Be
  • Live And Let Die
  • Hey Jude
  • Day Tripper
  • Hi, Hi, Hi
  • Get Back
Second Encore:
  • Yesterday
  • Helter Skelter
  • Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End

1 comment:

Uncle E said...

Lucky bugger. I've only seen him once, in Toronto, in the early '90's. Terrific, and good to hear he's still knocking them dead. Nice post!