As the world’s go-to Beatles ambassador (sorry, Ringo), Paul McCartney has been busy lately.
In 2012, the still-cute ex-Beatle was a reliable fixture at Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond JubileeConcert, the Summer Olympics in London and the “12-12-12” concert for Hurricane Sandyrelief. There was a Saturday Night Live appearance and a cameo in Dave Grohl’s music documentary, “Sound City.”
That’s a lot of McCartney. So, at some point, it’s reasonable to think the appeal might fade, right?
Not a chance, judging from a generous and stylishly presented 2 hours and 45 minutes on Saturday at Amway Center, the first of two Orlando concerts that launch the U.S. leg of the 2013 “Out There” tour.
At its heart, every McCartney performance is a reminder of the unmatched inspiration and influence of timeless Beatles music, the soundtrack of a band that legitimately changed the world.
On Saturday, McCartney again framed the songs in arrangements faithful to the originals.
In an opening salvo of “Eight Days a Week,” “Junior’s Farm,” “All My Loving,” “Listen to What the Man Said” and “Let Me Roll It,” McCartney nicely reproduced familiar studio versions, his voice situated clearly atop a pleasing sound mix.
The band closed “Let Me Roll It” with a whiff of Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady,” which McCartney followed with an endearing tale that tied Hendrix to the Beatles.
Behind the band, songs were embellished by a sea of spotlights, swirling geometric designs and video clips of long-ago McCartney scenes. Not that you need special effects when the material includes “The Long and Winding Road,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Hey Jude,” “Let It Be” and “Yesterday.”
Along with the obvious favorites, McCartney also showcased a few lesser known gems, such as an exuberant take on Wings’ “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five,” a lilting “Hope of Deliverance” (off 1993’s “Off the Ground” album) and “Here Today,” a moving acoustic tribute to John Lennon. He strummed ukulele as a tribute to George Harrison in “Something.”
Amid the nostalgia, the show was a testament to McCartney’s own longevity. At age 70, he has lost surprisingly little of the charm, energy, instrumental skills and vocal flexibility that make him a legend, one of the rare pop musicians to really deserve that over-used title.
McCartney’s stature has remained consistent from the Cold War to Sept. 11, from Elvis Presley to his recent collaboration with the guys in Nirvana. “Back in the U.S.S.R.” was a reminder that he outlasted the Soviet Union, too.
That one was a showcase for drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr. , guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray, and multi-instrumentalist Paul “Wix” Wickens, who shifted effortlessly from the raucous “Lady Madonna” to a stately “Eleanor Rigby” and a psychedelic surprise, “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.”
“It’s been a long time since that one came out of the box,” McCartney said.
It might be accurate to call these songs oldies, but it’s hard to imagine them ever getting old.
By Alli Marshall on 05/18/2013 09:20 AM
Singer-songwriter James McCartney is currently in the midst of a 47-date U.S. tour in support of his new album, Me. The record is McCartney's first full-length, though he has previously release of two digital-only EPs,Available Light and Close At Hand. But he's not exactly new to music: he played guitar and drums, and cowrote some songs on his father's solo albums, including Flaming Pie in '97 and Driving Rain in '01. And yes, his father is that McCartney (James' mother is Linda).
James McCartney's tour brings him to The Altamont Theatre on Tuesday, May 28. Risa Binder also performs. 8 p.m., $15. In advance of that show, James talked to Xpress about playing Coachella, his favorite U.S. tour stops, and the connection between music and visual art.
Mountain Xpress: You started your current tour off at Coachella, and then move on to smaller venues — which seems sort of like jumping into the deep end and then swimming to the shallow end. Is that daunting? And how did you get warmed up and in the groove for the tour?
James McCartney: Not daunting at all. I love playing small venues, because it gives me a chance to connect with the audience, and also have them connect with me, and the music. It’s actually lovely.
Where in the U.S. are you most excited to tour? Any side trips that you hope to make as you cross the country — perhaps to visit the oldest drive-in theatre or the giant robot playground?
Everywhere really. I love America. But especially the Southwest… my mom loved it there.
Does coming from a famous (and famously talented) family put a lot of pressure on you? Do you feel like audiences have certain expectations and, if so, how do you handle that? Coming from the kind of family that I've come from and I am a part of, it's kind of public, so there's a fair amount of attention towards me. I have to be careful. But, privacy is a good thing if you want it.
Besides being a singer/songwriter, you're also a visual artist. Do you work on both simultaneously, or do you take time off from one to pursue the other? And do you feel that music and visual art somehow inspire each other, or play off of each other? Or are they completely different creative outlets for you?
I feel that they are deeply related, but are also different. In fact all the artwork for Me and for my the first single, “Strong As You” are made up of paintings that I have done. And I feel that art and expression are always related like that.
You're touring in support of your full-length, Me. How have the songs been received, and have they evolved for you as you've been playing them in front of audiences? (e.g.: Have you been rearranging them for the live show, or have the meanings of the songs changed as your play them?)
The reception has been great. The record is intimate and personal and that’s why tour is solo to keep intimate and personal and also to say, “This is Me.”
by Nick DeRiso
James McCartney, a musician with a blessing/curse of a last name, tries to come to terms with the strength needed to overcome such strokes of luck/misery on “Strong as You” — sounding an elegiac note that might have recalled his famous father if not for its darker sense of worry.
James, it’s clear, came by his way with a pop song honestly, as the progeny of former Beatle Paul McCartney, but he doesn’t tread the same path. The elder McCartney, in particular over the length of his musical collaboration in Wings with James’ mom Linda, tended to paper over such doubts with a blinding optimism.
Not here: As James McCartney offers an edgy, very modern guitar solo on this exclusive advance stream courtesy of the ECR Music Group, he returns to a theme of doubt — doubt bordering on a kind of desperate alienation. Whatever the song’s main character is saying, deep down it’s clear just how strong he isn’t.
And that James McCartney, just as clearly, has his very own things to say.
The theme here, so full of stark emotional irony, puts a lot of space between James and his old man — and lends a newfound sense of intrigue to the younger McCartney’s first full-length album Me, due on May 21, 2013.