Last night I attended the final night of Paul McCartney’s US tour at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Thanks to the never ending generosity of a friend’s parents, I was lucky enough to be sitting 13 rows from the stage, floor level and one row behind Paul Stanley of KISS who was accompanied by standard rock and roll (and LA) arm candy – a statuesque, blonde bombshell. My friends and I were practically sitting on Sir Paul’s lap. Big thanks to Jigga-Ira and Rendogg for the nod on the (very) expensive tickets.
The timeless music of the Beatles will always be popular and its influence will continue to bridge generations, but not surprising, the crowd was overwhelmingly middle aged. If median age rises then entertainment budgets increase therefore $300 tickets are justified. Classic modus tollens, but this is about the music, not high school trig. As I was saying, the Beatles were and continue to be a force in music that is unparalleled, unprecedented and include every other synonym for brilliance and genius that a thesaurus can provide. The amount of work the Fab Four produced in their relatively short career is astonishing. The Beatles songbook is a maddening showcase of the Lennon/McCartney songwriting tandem. If in two hundred years rock and roll becomes the new “classical music” these two will be the Bach and Mozart of rock. Except they were in the same band.
This is why seeing Paul McCartney live is not like seeing other rock pioneers/dinosaurs of the â€˜60s and â€˜70s who still tour/need a buck. The sad caricatured performances that often lie below the surface of those shows take away from the spirit of the original incarnations. For someone my age who was born twenty years after the venerable decade of love, it’s a godsend, but to think for one minute that seeing the Allman Brothers Band play in 2005 is the same as seeing them play in the sixties is simply foolish.
Here we’re talking about a Beatle. A real Beatle, one who sounds remarkably similar to the one in those cherished classic albums. Last night he was 30 feet from me performing with four hired guns making them the best Beatle cover band in the world. There was silly scripted banter that normally would draw scoffs, rants and plenty of high marks in the lame category, but sometimes the contemptuousness must be curbed to enjoy these moments without the need to drown in hipsterdom. No time to waste the cynicism when there is plenty of scorn to be directed towards the farce that INXS has become with their reality show winner new lead singer.
The show began with a DJ spinning mash-ups of Beatles songs and a short documentary about the life of Paul culminating in the parting of the curtains and a Magical Mystery Tour opener. The energetic wake up slowed down a bit for some solo and Wings era Paul before getting the crowd back into it with Rubber Soul’sDrive My Car. A beer break during another Wings song and I’m running to my seat singing along with Revolver’s raspy Got to Get You Into My Life. The new bust-out-the-lighters-for-the-love-song is cell-phones-waving and they were out in force for perennial wedding song Maybe I’m Amazed and Long and Winding Road.
Paul put his storyteller cap on and told the tale of recording In Spite of all the Danger with The Quarrymen, the first band John, George and Paul were in. The show continued in this format with much bantering and commenting about the end of the tour between songs. It picked up steam when Abbey Road’s excellent She Came In Through the Bathroom Window was tagged at the end of Wing’s Too Many People. The energy ascended with Good Day Sunshine which was prefaced with the story of NASA playing it for the astronauts during their recent return to space.
In any other city Hey Jude would have been a sing-a-long to end all sing-a-longs, but in Los Angeles it was Paul struggling to get the crowd engaged. Individual sections were barely audible with each call out by McCartney. “Now for the last time on the tour, just the gentlemen!” Regardless, if anyone was not paying attention by now they will have had a rude awakening with the bombastic pyrotechnics of Live and Let Die.
Ahhâ€¦so that’s what the $300 tickets are paying for. Explosions, sparks, and waking up the old folks.
A series of encores ended the show with all the high energy greatest hits glory you would expect. The highlight had to be the stealing back of Helter Skelter from U2. Can’t imagine the reception it received in 1968 considering how hard rocking this song still sounds today. Going out on a non-researched limb here, but this must be the first heavy metal song ever written. Blisters on my fingers indeed. As usual Let It Be killed me, I could barely sing along to the beginning. This song always hits me hard.
I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Fittingly, the night ended with Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club (Reprise) segueing right into Abbey Road’s The End and the famous words echoing in our dreams last night:
And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.
If true, for Paul McCartney and the Beatles I hope they took a lot of love, because they sure made enough for generations of music fans.
-Merry Swankster signing off to a busy day of work with my iPod on shuffle set to Artists > The Beatles > All.
Magical Mystery Tour (Magical Mystery Tour, 1967)
Flaming Pie (Flaming Pie, 1997)
Jet (Band on the Run, 1973)
I’ll Get You (b-side to She Loves You, 1963)
Drive My Car (Rubber Soul, 1967)
Till There Was You (The Beatles, 1963)
Let Me Roll It (Band on the Run, 1973)
Got To Get You Into My Life (Revolver, 1966)
Fine Line (Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, 2005)
Maybe I’m Amazed (McCartney, 1970)
The Long and Winding Road (Let It Be, 1970)
In Spite of all the Danger (The Quarrymen, 1958)
I Will (The Beatles, 1968)
Jenny Wren (Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, 2005)
For No One (Revolver, 1966)
Fixing A Hole (Sgt Pepper, 1967)
English Tea (Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, 2005)
I’ll Follow The Sun (Beatles for Sale, 1964)
Follow Me (Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, 2005)
Blackbird (White Album, 1968)
Eleanor Rigby (Revolver, 1966)
Too Many People (Ram, 1971)
She Came In Through the Bathroom Window (Abbey Road, 1969)
Good Day Sunshine (Revolver, 1966)
Band On The Run (Band on the Run, 1973)
Penny Lane (Magical Mystery Tour, 1967)
I’ve Got A Feeling (The Beatles, Let It Be, 1970)
Back In The USSR (The White Album, 1968)
Hey Jude (Single, 1968)
Live and Let Die (Single, 1973)
Yesterday (Help, 1965)
Get Back (The Beatles, Let It Be, 1970)
Helter Skelter (The White Album, 1968)
Please Please Me (Please Please Me, 1963)
Let It Be (The Beatles, Let It Be, 1970)
Sgt Pepper/The End (Sgt Pepper, 1967/Abbey Road, 1969)
Tags: Paul McCartney, Beatles, Los Angeles