Sir Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney sign outside of Miller Park

It was a bit of an adventure getting to Miller Park last night, but my friend and I made it. Once there, we found massive amounts of people in line at the stadium gates. The rumor was, the sound check took longer than expected, and the gates opened an hour later than originally scheduled. After about 30-40 minutes of inching our way forward we eventually got in, and made the climb to our seats in the upper deck.

I’d been looking forward to this show for a while. I have never seen Paul McCartney perform live before, and heard real good things about the shows on this current tour. I was not disappointed. Sir Paul played with Springsteen like stamina: 38 songs over a 2 hour and 45 minute show that would put musicians half his age to shame.

The setlist (see below) focused heavily on the Beatles catalog, along with some Wings songs, and other solo stuff. He and his four band mates started out strong early on. The blistering guitar work on “Let Me Roll It” was as hot as the temperature in the stadium. I got the feeling that McCartney was out to prove that even though he’s 71, he can still rock out with the best of them.

A talented showman that seems to be a master of many genres, he also did a wonderful job on love songs and other ballads. Of those, the standouts for me were “Maybe I’m Amazed” (dedicated to his late wife, Linda) and Paul beautifully performing a solo acoustic “Blackbird.” He also played nice tributes for his late Beatle comrades: beginning “Something” on a ukelele that George had given him, and a touching “Here Today” for John.

Paul McCartney sign outside of Miller Park

In addition to the musicians on stage, the video crew deserves a lot of credit for a successful show. When you’re so far away from the stage at a stadium concert like this, you can feel a bit removed. But with the tall video screens on each side of the stage, and video production worthy of a concert film, we could easily see what was happening there, right down to fretwork of the guitarists, and Paul’s silly facial expressions.

McCartney wasn’t satisfied playing just the hits either. He and his four band mates also played some more obscure songs, a few for the first time in front of an audience last night. “Lovely Rita” (from Sgt. Pepper) and “I’ve Just Seen a Face” (from Help!) were nice surprises. A couple of those didn’t play so well for me though, I’m not a big fan of “All Together Now,” but you have to give him credit for not just going through the motions and playing the hits.

Of course you do expect the hits at a show like this, and they seemed to keep coming all night. “Hey Jude” and “Band on the Run” were big highlights for me. McCartney also closed the show very appropriately with the Abbey Road medley, “Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End.”

It can’t be easy to keep a crowd of almost 44,000 people engaged throughout a hot, humid night, but Paul and his band made it look easy. I suppose some of that comes with McCartney and The Beatles’ long-standing popularity. It’s got to be a real kick for a songwriter to hear a crowd that size, singing along to songs that he wrote decades ago. As my friend said to me, “He must really enjoy doing these concerts, he certainly doesn’t need the money.”

Indeed. I think Paul McCartney’s performance precisely demonstrated how much he enjoys what he’s doing. What a great show.

The Setlist *

1. Eight Days a Week
2. Junior’s Farm
3. All My Loving
4. Listen to What the Man Said
5. Let Me Roll It
6. Paperback Writer
7. My Valentine
8. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
9. The Long and Winding Road
10. Maybe I’m Amazed
11. I’ve Just Seen a Face
12. We Can Work it Out
13. Another Day
14. And I Love Her
15. Blackbird
16. Here Today
17. Your Mother Should Know
18. Lady Madonna
19. All Together Now
20. Lovely Rita
21. Mrs. Vandebilt
22. Eleanor Rigby
23. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
24. Something
25. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
26. Band on the Run
27. Back in the U.S.S.R.
28. Let It Be
29. Live and Let Die
30. Hey Jude

Encore
31. Day Tripper
32. Hi, Hi, Hi
33. Get Back

Second Encore
34. Yesterday
35. Helter Skelter
36. Golden Slumbers
37. Carry That Weight
38. The End

* from setlist.fm