I love concerts. In fact, perhaps I am a little addicted. I usually hit up three or four major shows a year from country to rock to pop. I’ve seen some big names like The Eagles, Billy Joel, Sting, and Stevie Nicks. I’ve seen the hometown bands and the chart-toppers like Kenny Chesney and Martina McBride. Heck, I’ve even seen some American Idols. But as much fun as I have at those shows, and as many times as I have enjoyed a show enough to see them again (and again…I am talking to you, Keith Urban), every once in a while a show comes along that tops them all before you even walk in the door. Paul McCartney.
Yes, I know Paul McCartney was topping the charts long before I was born, but I know a legend when I see one and I was not about to pass this one up. With the show one week from my tenth wedding anniversary and my husband being a huge Beatles/Wings/McCartney fan, it was perfect. When you consider the two-night stand was the christening of the new Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, I could not pass up the opportunity to be one of the first patrons. We are huge Penguins fans as well, and couldn’t wait to see their new home. Since the shows sold out in presale, I searched eBay and paid three times face value for what I was confident would be an amazing performance. I was right.
Before I talk about the show, let me give a huge shout out to the Consol Energy Center. A piece of my heart will always be across the street at the Igloo, but this place is amazing. With state of the art technology, premium concessions, and gorgeous views of downtown, I cannot wait to set foot inside for some hockey!
Perhaps by design to admire the new arena, perhaps to psych up the crowd, perhaps just because he is Paul McCartney and he can, the 7:30 start time was not even close to accurate. At about 7:55, the crowd went wild when the video screens lit up with a scrolling video of photos, newspaper clippings and other career-spanning memorabilia. Alas, it was just a tease, for the video lasted nearly a half hour before the lights went out and the band took the stage. Now, it is the rare entertainer who can simply walk out onto the stage under a spotlight and stand waving in silence for a standing ovation before a single note is played or a song is sung. But it happened.
For the first song, I sat in wonder that I was in the same room as a Beatle. A Beatle! By the time he started into “Drive My Car” I had a moment of being transported to the sixties even though I never lived a moment of my life in them. The show was filled with so many wonderful moments, but here were the highlights:
1. My Love Before beginning, he sat at the piano talking about Linda and how he wrote the song for her. He dedicated the song to Linda and “all the lovers in the audience tonight.” Several bars into the song, the video screens cut to a couple in the front row. In front of the entire arena, the man proposed to his girlfriend and the arena burst into applause at her acceptance.
2. Tributes In the middle of the show, Sir Paul took time to sing tributes to his departed bandmates. For John Lennon, he sang “Here Today” and for George Harrison, “Something.” During both songs, photos of the men were shown. The songs were so well introduced and performed that the moments were truly touching and responsible for a few tears around the arena.
3. Let It Be Having experienced a tragic loss just days earlier, this one hit home to me. Beautiful.
4. Ob La Di, Ob La Da McCartney did not include this song on the lineup until the current Up and Coming Tour, so this was an unexpected treat – and a killer crowd sing-along!
5. Hey Jude Back in 1994, I saw a Beatles tribute band cover this song on a cruise ship. It was one of my first concert experiences and one that I was looking forward to experiencing with the “real deal.” Singing this with 18,000 people led by Paul McCartney was a moment of rock and roll transcendence that I wish everyone could experience.
I think I could go on and list just about all of the 30+ songs that were performed: the grandeur of “Live and Let Die,” the simplicity of a one-man acoustic performance of “Yesterday.” Every moment of the show was a class act and every song earned an ovation. With “The Cute One” being 68 years old, his performing days are slowing down. This show was the last of the North American leg of the Up and Coming Tour, but if you ever have the chance to Paul McCartney in concert, don’t think twice. You won’t regret a single penny of the ticket price.