Report: Paul McCartney Live in Philly

 

On August 14 at the Wells Fargo
Center, Macca digs deep
into all three catalogs – his, Wings’ and of course the Fab Four’s – and serves
up a 180 minute marathon. Our reviewer goes the distances with him. Photo by
Scott Weiner.

 

By A.D. Amorosi

 

After three hours and 41 songs/fragments of much of his
finest moments and memories, Paul McCartney, 68, looked refreshed. Perhaps it
was the vitality of a consummate performer or consummate material – most of
which came from his pen. Maybe he enjoys jamming with guys half his age and
soaking in applause (he did the latter without a doubt). By the time 180
minutes passed, McCartney seemed to have just gotten started.

 

Unlike previously recent McCartney shows within the last
twelve years, this tour had a large dollop of rare and hit (and oft maligned)
Wings songs (perhaps) due to the fact that his solo catalog will soon get a
sonic upgrading courtesy Concord Records. Bravo that – if you haven’t heard
“Jet” or “Venus and Mars” since their initial release, this show was a
sensational even shocking re-introduction. While I wasn’t crazy about the
slapdash blues of “Highway,” from his alter ego The Fireman (2008’s Electric Arguments) I was happy he
included their art-slop aesthetic in this program. While “Hey Jude” and “Let it
Be” seemed a wee rote, had he not done them I would’ve shed the teardrops I did
that night in joy because he did do them. I wasn’t wild about him having
performed Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” to end a gorgeously dramatic version
of “A Day in the Life,” McCartney’s tale of hanging with the quiet Beatles and
Paul’s take on the George Harrison-penned “Something” – started quietly on
Harrison’s axe of choice, the ukulele and finished as a roaring elegant epic
-was awe-inspiring and tender. Dag, the guy even picked up an electric and
hammed on Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” with fire and invention and granted one
request, for “Ram On” from the 1971’s Ram with wooly country cool.

 

What else you got Sir Paul?

 

Cuts Notes:

 

*The “Venus and Mars” “Rockshow” medley as a starter: from
supple acoustic guitar licks to swooping synth-whistling arena opera, good
choice. Love the wood block and the band’s lush harmonies. There’s no point in
me repeating this over-and-over. These guys have McCartney’s vocal counterpoint
down, and sweetly, without the fear of aping the Fab Four or Wings.

 

*”Jet” : McCartney and Co. slammed right into this after
“Rockshow” and made it into a stammering soul-glam smash complete with its
chucka-chucka bridge.

 

*”All My Loving”: speeding jangly Beatles songs, hooray.
Thanks Paul for the duck paddling bass line.

 

* “Letting Go”: 
blues-ish pop with that vaguely Asian-themed break. Weird, but
effective. Thinking back on this, McCartney’s Wings era used that nuance quite
a bit. McCartney’s voice has a nice gravelly edge here as opposed to the
sprightliness of his Beatles bit before this…….or after…

 

* “Got to Get you Into My Life”: – McCartney sounds very
kiddish here. Weird because the background is that Beatles Rock Band video
stuff.

 

*”Highway” : Eh.

 

*”Let Me Roll It”: Aww hell no with the big organ rolling
blues – this is damn near Charles Earland. Lots of echo on McCartney’s high
voice. Real stadium-70s-blues and a perfect grouchy fit into…

 

* “Foxy Lady” : The cute one can play an evil sexy guitar
when he feels like it.

 

*”The Long and Winding Road”: Paul switches to piano and
gets all pastoral and pretty with some C&W jazz lines thrown in. Odd that
he comes off like early early Randy Newman here.

 

* “1985” (or “Nineteen Hundred Eighty Five”) : No. Fucking.
Way. This is one of my very faves in his catalog, but stuck as it is at the end
of #Band on the Run# it gets overlooked. Glam-soul-ish and quick shuffling with
McCartney’s voice all clear yet with the tiniest rasp – it’s as if he joined 10
CC for The Original Soundtrack. I can
dream.

 

*”Let ‘Em In”: “Cute. Nice military drum and fife bit.

 

*”My Love” : A corny ballad for sure, but its chords were
contemporary, cool and lovely. Real heart-on-your-sleeve stuff.

 

* “I’m Looking Through You”: Very mod organ. Very jauntily
country-billy. Buck Owens would be proud.

* “Two of Us” : Another favorite – humble tom tom galloping, easy-close harmony
filled plucked pop-grass acoustic number. “You and I have memories longer than
the road that stretches out ahead.” Poignant in so many ways. Plus he
whistled live at the tune’s finale. Awesome.

 

*” Blackbird”: Stark and simple – but most effective tune of
evening – solo acoustic candle-flickering affair. You hear this cliché a lot
but really, the audience’s collective heart stopped and the room fell quiet.

 

* “Here Today”: Acoustic. McCartney wrote this as an
imaginary conversation for John after Lennon’s death. Effective.

 

*”Dance Tonight”: Can’t remember.

 

*”Mrs. Vandebilt” : Wings-McCartney at his character-driven
chamber pop finest.

 

*”Eleanor Rigby”: Beatles-McCartney at his character-driven
chamber pop finest.

 

*”Ram On*: As soon as he picked up the uke you figured he
was heading into a Harrison tune.

Instead, he went sweetly into the Bacharach “Raindrops”
sweep of “Ram On”.

 

*Something”: Else.

 

*”Sing the Chances” : Don’t remember.

*”Band on the Run” then “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La Da”:  just fun to hear.

 

*”Back in the U.S.S.R” – Swift kicking and gutsy.

 

* “”I’ve Got a Feeling” – Slow kicking and gutsy, really
rangy.

 

 

[BY THE WAY, HAS
ANYBODY NOTICED: McCARTNEY HAS A REAL SOLID AND GENUINE MANNER IN WHICH HE
PAIRS LIKE-SOUNDING SONGS TOGETHER. THAT MAY SEEM OBVIOUS, BUT I DARE YOU TO
COUNT ON ONE HAND HOW MAY ARTISTS VET OR NOVICE WHO UNDERSTAND PACE AND
THEMATICS.]

 

 

*”Paperback Writer”: Delirious fun.

 

*”A Day in the Life”/”Give Peace a Chance”: see above.

 

*”Let it Be”: above.

 

*” Live and Let Die”: the grand spy-portion of the program
where all the olds in the front row get frightened by fireworks. Nicely played.

 

*”Hey Jude”: above. McCartney does though still have THE
BEST SCREAM in rock. EVER.

 

*”Day Tripper” then “Lady Madonna” then “Get Back”: Go
ahead, Max Martin and Dr. Luke – pop’s current go to guys. Write enduring
roaring melodies like those back to back.

 

*”Yesterday”: sweet and simple.

 

*”Helter Skelter”: Genuinely manic and shockingly corrosive.
Again with the scream.

 

* Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” into “Carry
That Weight” into “The End”: epic epic epic epic.

 

 

Good night.

 

 

 

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