MAYBE WE’RE STILL AMAZED Paul McCartney

 

 

With Macca having
wrapped his “On The Run” North American tour last week, let’s take a moment to
ponder the significance of it all.

 

BY SELENA FRAGASSI

 

It was the perfect storm. A canonized music legend playing
at an equally historic ballpark with an arm-to-arm crowd of reverent fans who
either grew up with the mop-topped teen idol or heard mythical stories about
the glory days of the revolutionary leader behind the British invasion. If Sir
Paul McCartney was attempting to invoke the memory of the Beatles’ touchdown at
Shea Stadium in 1965 on this night, it was a job well done.

 

“I have a feeling we’re going to have a good time tonight,”
said Macca, as he walked onto the stage of Chicago’s Wrigley Field (July 31),
dressed in a three-piece blue suit before making a proper introduction with
opening number “Hello Goodbye.”

 

“What a historical place,” he continued before toasting to
the venue, “let’s be a part of that history tonight.”

 

And so it was, for nearly three hours, not just a memorable
moment but history actually repeating itself. If one dared to close their eyes
for a moment during “All My Loving,” suddenly they could feel themselves in the
screaming audience of the Ed Sullivan
Show
or feel a sixth sense during the arm swaying, lighter floating
sing-a-long of “Give Peace a Chance,” that the spirit of a barefoot Lennon had
entered the arena, perhaps with a speech about the embarrassment of America’s
Tea Party.

 

In much the same way “Beatlemania” swept the nation in 1964,
McCartney sparked a loving fury in the overwhelmed crowd who clamored to every
lyric, sweated out awkward dance moves in the aisles, and yes screamed and
shrieked for the handsome Brit when he disrobed from his heavy tweed jacket and
popped his thumbs under his suspenders, taking in the involuntary panic of the
sea of people before him.

 

“This is just like the first time we came here, and I
couldn’t hear anything but the screaming,” McCartney joked, before admitting,
“I say that because I like hearing it.”

 

Although McCartney was nothing less than deserving of the
praise bestowed upon him, this show (the first of two sold-out nights at
Wrigley Field) was one of his humility and giving. At 69 years old, the man who
holds the Guinness World Record for
the most commercially successful songwriter in the history of popular music
played as much of his discography as humanly possible, offering a three-hour
spectacle with nary a break. In addition to a finely-picked playlist anchored
by Beatles heavy hitters, Wings hitmakers, and even a few rarities (the not-oft
performed songs “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five” and “The Night Before”), Sir
Paul also courted the crowd with engaging conversation. He read his favorite
homemade signs (“I’m a Priest; I’ll Do Your Wedding”… “Hug My Wife So She’ll
Shut Up Already”) and shared never-heard stories from his personal memory book
of nearly fifty years of a career with a cast of endearing co-workers.

 

As he merged the Wings’ tune “Let Me Roll It” into a
impromptu instrumental cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady,” McCartney shared
the story of how the late guitarist, first gaining popularity in Britain, had
learned the entire Sgt. Pepper album
in mere days after its release and opened a U.K. set with a performance of the
entire record. But when the use of his guitar’s whammy bar put the instrument
out of tune, Hendrix scrambled and looked into the crowd to see Eric Clapton
next to McCartney and begged the master axe man to come on stage and tune it.

 

McCartney spoke admiringly of George Harrison and played the
ukulele in his honor; recounted the Beatles’ first trip to Russia and the
conversation he had with the country’s defense minister who credited Please Please Me with helping him to
learn English; and all the while offered heartwarming videos and images on the
backdrop of the stage behind him, including those iconic
hidden-baby-in-the-coat photos from the “Maybe I’m Amazed” promo video during
the performance of the song.

 

Amazed we all were, if not only by McCartney but the
effortless and practiced band of musicians who supported him through
set-in-stone harmonies that could have turned blasphemous but instead were
incredulous. Recalling the ensemble unity of McCartney’s early days, his
current band of brothers [Paul “Wix” Wickens (keyboards, guitar, percussion,
harmonica); Rusty Anderson (guitar, backing vocals); Brian Ray (bass, backing
vocals); and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr.] was not just a replacement but a
resurrection of the strength in numbers that some may argue could have been
lost on Paul in his solo career.

 

Altogether the night moved swiftly between acts of the
suspenseful story, inherently adjusting to the needs of the crowd at any given
moment. While “Live and Let Die” offered a dazzling climax of perfectly
syncopated fireworks, “Hey Jude” was a more softspoken delivery almost
overthrown by the crowd’s participation of the repeating chorus. As McCartney
ended one encore and returned to the stage for another, waving both British and
American flags while a confetti spray of red, white and blue fell to the ground
of the illustrious old ballpark, he made his point clear – we all carry that
weight together, united by the power of ageless music.

 

 

SET LIST – NIGHT ONE:

 

1. Hello, Goodbye (Beatles)

2. Junior’s Farm (Wings)

3. All My Loving (Beatles)

4. Jet (Wings)

5. Drive My Car (Beatles)

6. Sing the Changes (The Fireman)

7. The Night Before (Beatles)

8. Let Me Roll It (Wings)

9. Foxy Lady (Jimi Hendrix)

10. Paperback Writer (Beatles)

11. The Long and Winding
Road (Beatles)

12. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five (Wings)

13. Let ‘Em In (Wings)

14. Maybe I’m Amazed 

15. I’ve Just Seen a Face (Beatles)

16. I Will (Beatles)

17. Blackbird (Beatles)

18. Here Today 

19. Dance Tonight

20. Mrs Vandebilt (Wings)

21. Eleanor Rigby (Beatles)

22. Something (Beatles)

23. Band on the Run (Wings)

24. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (Beatles)

25. Back in the U.S.S.R. (Beatles)

26. I’ve Got a Feeling (Beatles)

27. A Day in the Life (Beatles)

28. Give Peace a Chance (John Lennon)

29. Let It Be (Beatles)

30. Live and Let Die (Wings)

31. Hey Jude (Beatles)

Encore:

32. Lady Madonna (Beatles)

33. Day Tripper (Beatles)

34. Get Back (Beatles)

Encore 2:

35. Yesterday (Beatles)

36. Helter Skelter (Beatles)

37.
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End (Beatles)

 

 

[Photo
Credit: MJ Kim]

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