A CORRECTION: As my concert companion pointed out, the Paul quote regarding the cell phone lights was not that he saw blackness when he played Wing songs, but rather when he plays anything from his new album.. There. Better..
I was not prepared on Tuesday night for the assault on the senses that the opening bars to Hard Day’s Night would bring as Paul sang the first few words. Yes it was pointed out a few times that it’s a John song but that’s ok. I was transported back in that moment to my 8-year-old self in the RKO movie theater in Parkchester amidst the loudest screaming, crying, fit having girls you have ever seen. To say I became a bit emotional doesn’t do it correctly. I have never thought about seeing Paul in concert really, but sometime this past spring after the WHO it gnawed at me, as a good and proper musical bite will do. My concert companions of choice this year have been the biggest fans or the artist virgins who have never seen them in concert. For Paul, my business partner was the obvious choice. He is the biggest Paul fan and Beatle fan I know and he had never seen him before. It would have too been too easy to select another Beatles only fan. I have never been much of a solo Paul fan. The occasional song here and there over the years but that’s about it. Besides if I didn’t take a true Paul music fan, and he played 1985 for example, I and another Beatles only fan would just assume it was a White Album song we don’t remember. Paul himself alluded to the two types of fans that night when he said that when he plays a Beatles song he looks out and sees thousands of cell phone lights but when he plays a Wings song he sees nothing but black and so at the minimum my selected concert companion could surely be relied upon to provide a virtual light for those songs. I still like the cigarette lighters better though.
The concert and Paul were spectacular – simple as that. Pure joy. Pure pleasure. Like Ron with the Who and Andy with Bob before him, my friend was a bit hesitant in seeing Paul. It comes I believe from a place of the abject disappointment we feel when we see a musical idol of ours being a caricature of himself or not being able to meet our often misguided expectations. I have felt like that. Would I have gone to see the WHO say over 20 years ago? No, I would not have. We are not out there now to recreate our musical youth; we are out there to pay homage to it. “Hope I die before I get old” is as true today as it was back then. We are going to die before we get old because our generation’s maturation will not include the standard definition of “old”. The baby boomers redefined the world in the 60s and 70s and we will redefine our world IN our 60s and 70s. They who provided the soundtrack for our youth now go forth to provide the soundtrack for our seasoned years. These artists are no longer trying to distance themselves from their halcyon days of old when they were at their musical zeniths with hit after hit as they most likely were doing in their 40 s or 50s perhaps. The secret now is that they are doing concerts that embrace their and our youth. They are not playing a brand new album no one knows and sprinkling in a timeless anthem or two. They are playing to their faithful now along with a new generation or two who have discovered these musical gems. The concerts I have attended this year have had audiences from 10 year olds to the walker and cane set and everyone in between.
The song selection is impossible to address in any substantial way. Honestly, with the body of work Paul has to choose from, is a bad set list even possible? For me though to hear “And I Love Her” live was beyond compare… That is one of my two favorite Beatle songs ever along with “If I Fell”. Having been so young when the Beatles came out, I don’t honestly relate that well to Sgt. Pepper and beyond with their psychedelic phase so to speak. Am pretty sure my parents would have frowned upon me dropping acid as a 10 year old. Speaking of Sgt. Pepper, Paul and his band did a fantastic instrumental rendition of Foxy Lady and then told a great story about Jimi doing Sgt. Pepper at a club in London when the album first came out. It was about Jimi throwing his guitar totally out of tune playing the song and then asking Eric Clapton to come up from the audience to tune it for him. That was such a musical story telling treat. Am I happy that we didn’t get to hear Silly Love Songs or My Love or Ebony and Ivory? Hell yes!! Just not my thing. But having gotten into a bit of solo Paul this year, am I happy we got Temporary Secretary? Hell yes! Look up the setlist: 39 songs from this 74-year-old music man. Seeing Paul up close and personal I sensed the longevity of him. He is as gorgeous as ever and is aging beautifully. His sense of fun and enjoyment of performing was radiant! I suspect this won’t be the last time we see him in concert.
I loved being at the opening of a new arena. I was at the Staples center the night Bruce opened it. That was great. This Golden1 arena though is so much nicer than Staples. The seats were ample and so comfortable. The entire place was well organized and easy to navigate. Our only complaint was the sound was not very good at the opening. It improved as the night wore on but nothing irritates me more than when the necessary precautions are not taken by sound engineers to make sure the vocals can be heard well and clear over the instruments, especially the drums. Total pet peeve of mine. Paul’s vocals were very hard to hear at the beginning of the concert. I am spoiled by all the years of listening to my friend Andy’s bands whose sound has always been perfect thanks to his and Renee’s know how.
As concerts go this was the perfect standup/sit down mix I must say. The Who and Bruce were total standup concerts. My feet hurt and I learned my lesson after the Who-no more cute boots to concerts. Rod and Bob were total sit down concerts. That was a bit irritating cause you wanted to bop and sway to some of it at least. But this Paul audience was perfect, up and down and up and down and I did wear the cute boots again so I had happy feet for sure.
As I write this it seems surreal to me even now that I actually saw Paul McCartney in concert in person just a few days ago. I remember the week the Beatles came to Shea and how my best friend Patty and I so wished we could go but we were too young and our mothers weren’t about to take us into that frenzy. I remember calling the hotel they were staying at and asking for them. Honestly can’t remember what the response was or if they even picked up the phone. I had much better luck during my Ferris Bueller phase decades later when I called the hospital in Ireland I think when Mr. Broderick got into that car accident over there. They actually answered but obviously were not going to discuss his condition with me no matter how I tried to tell them I was related. There’s a digression for you.
There is no mystery that this concert was magical. Paul’s care and love for his fans was just terrific. As usual lots of signs in the audiences and the three selected to go on stage and meet him where poignantly perfect. First a long time fan in her 60s had her no doubt longstanding wish come true. The next was a sign that every one loved as they kept showing it on the monitor. A young lady said “ I will still love you in 40 years when I’m 64’! She was called on stage next and got her Paul hug. But the one that brought tears to my eyes and to many others in the audience including those near to me was this 12-year-old girl just sobbing as she approached him on stage with her mom. She transported us all back in time to 50 odd years ago when we first met the Beatles. Her sign said ‘ I am 12 years old and I want to hold your hand’. And so Paul did just that. It was just beautiful and a fitting hand across time. My own musical odyssey back in time comes to a fitting and wonderful end now. I’ve enjoyed every one of these concerts; the company, the artist and most importantly of course, the music.