Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Sir Paul ...

For a living legend, McCartney is a really normal guy. (He wore jeans and an aqua long-sleeve T-shirt.)

Tonight's show made me realize just how much material his career spans.

Dave, who was beaming after the show (which was the whole point, after all), will likely have a very different take on the evening (and I invite him to post a comment and share his thoughts if he reads this), but I thought it was uneven. The pacing felt off. The energy for U2 last month was high and constant. For Paul, it wasn't the same.

But U2's catalog is pretty consistent. Paul's repertoire begins before The Beatles and includes Wings and everything he's done through his newest album, and none of it sounds the same, so of course the tone of the show would vary. But I didn't think of that until things were in full swing.

The set list was all over the musical map. He opened with "Magical Mystery Tour" and played tunes from before he was a Beatle, and Beatles stuff, and Wings stuff, and solo stuff. Sometimes, he rocked with his band. Other times, his band left him alone on the stage, just Paul and his acoustic guitar and the 20,000 of us, like we were hanging out in a really big living room.

He really hit his stride (or the audience finally realized where they were) toward the end of the show. He sang "Hey Jude" with all of us, and I thought, "What do you do to follow 'Hey Jude'?" The answer to that question is "Live and Let Die," a la the Superbowl, complete with pyrotechnics. Very cool.

And then, if you're Sir Paul, you walk off the stage.

And then you come back for your first encore, and you do "Yesterday," of course, just you and your guitar on the dark stage lit by a single spot. And then the band joins you for "Get Back."

And then you walk off the stage again.

And then you come back for your second encore and do "Let It Be" and a few other tunes that are escaping me at this exact moment because I need to go to bed.

But you end with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

The crowd was at its best when he was doing Beatles tunes, of course. "Eleanor Rigby" and "Blackbird" (I laughed out loud at the thought of David Cassidy daring to do that song, and how he had nothing but trouble, because karma is a bitch) brought huge cheers.

When I saw Dave before the show and mentioned that there was no opening act but there was a DJ who was supposed to spin dance versions of some of Paul's songs, the look on his face was priceless. Such revulsion. Paul tunes are not to be defiled so.

But the DJ, who couldn't actually have been spinning anything, was over with soon enough, and the five-minute video intro chronicling Paul's career from birth to the present day as sweet. Visually, it was a stunning show.

Musically, well, the man is a genius. Once again, I tried to imagine what it must be like to be alone on that stage with 20,000 screaming fans around you, and once again, I came up with nothing. It's simply unfathomable. The biggest crowd I've every played to from a stage is 90. And it was really dark, so I couldn't see most of them, though I knew they were there. But to be on a stage and have an arena the size of the United Center filled to capacity around you? It blows my mind.

Certainly, he's earned all the accolades. But (and I'm wincing, thinking of Dave reading this, but I gotta be honest), I thought Paul was milking the applause. He deserves it, don't get me wrong. But hoisting his guitar over his head after almost every song seemed excessive. It's one thing to appreciate your audience's appreciation, but it's another thing to stand there and, well, expect it. And that's what it felt like sometimes.

Still, he couldn't be a nicer man. Charming stories. Just enough banter. My first McCartney experience and mostly likely my last. (Who knows if he'll do another tour.)

And my seat was fab. Thanks again to L.A. Dave.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

But the real question is, how did you look in your Cranberry blazer?

8:54 AM  

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