Paul McCartney kicks off tour with wild night in Glendale
Paul McCartney kicks off tour with wild night in Glendale
by Ed Masley - Mar. 29, 2010 09:36 AM
The Arizona Republic.
With apologies to Ringo Starr, the Beatles' legacy couldn't have hoped to be in better hands at this late date than Paul McCartney's.
Forty years after the breakup, the former Beatle most likely to pack an arena launched his latest solo tour in Glendale on Sunday night with a three-hour set at the Jobing.com Arena that found him more than willing and able to serve as the Beatles' ambassador to the 21st century.
He was nearing the three-hour mark when he blew the dust off a ferocious "Helter Skelter" for the second encore, screaming like he hadn't aged a day since 1968, before sending the crowd on its way with a spirited medley of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)" and the "Abbey Road" classic "The End" (which brought the final count of Beatles songs to 22). And the only song that seemed to give him any trouble was the early Wings' hit "My Love," where he briefly struggled with the high notes. Everything else was amazingly strong and soulful, with his touring band staying just faithful enough to the original recordings without it seeming like a tribute show. Their most valuable player, other than McCartney, was drummer Abe Laboriel Jr., who proved himself a master of the tumbling Ringo drum fill while bringing a muscular sense of physicality to the table.
Wearing a collarless jacket obviously meant to conjure memories of the early Beatles, he kicked off the show with a well-chosen medley of Wings hits - "Venus and Mars," an abbreviated "Rock Show" and "Jet," the first of several songs that seemed to hold back just enough to really kick in at certain key moments.
The night's first Beatles song came next - an effervescent "All My Loving" that I'd like to think was in that spot because it was also the first song the Beatles performed in their debut appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show." He followed with another Beatles track, reaching back to "Revolver" for "Got to Get You into My Life," with the keyboard player handling all the horn parts while footage from The Beatles: Rock Band played out on the screen behind them.
For a show so firmly rooted in nostalgia, Sunday's concert wasn't shy about reminding fans that this particular legend is still out there making records. Five songs in, he went straight from "Revolver" to the Fireman's "Electric Arguments" for "Highway," a muscular rocker whose funky central riff was not that far removed from "Taxman" territory.
The set list blew off several years of major solo hits, in fact, to get to the recent material. The most recent Top 40 appearance in the set was the medley from "Venus and Mars." But we did get his latest recording, "(I Want to) Come Home" (from the Robert De Niro/Drew Barrymore movie, "Everybody's Fine"), in addition to "Dance Tonight" from "Memory Almost Full" and another the Fireman song, "Sing the Changes."
He did play five songs from his biggest post-Beatles release, 1973's "Band on the Run," though - the chart-topping title track, "Jet," "Let Me Roll It" (among the evening's more impressive vocals), a rollicking "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five" (one of several tracks that made the most of his touring band's vocal harmonies) and "Mrs. Vanderbilt," an upbeat gem that somehow made its live debut two years ago in Kiev.
The other songs selected from McCartney's solo catalog were "Letting Go," a wistful "Every Night," the heartfelt Lennon tribute "Here Today," and a truly explosive rendition of "Live and Let Die," whose over-the-top pyrotechnic display McCartney later credited to a man named Shakey (for obvious reasons).
The rest of the night was devoted to the Beatles (unless you count that little Jimi Hendrix tribute with McCartney playing lead guitar over the groove to "Foxy Lady").
He didn't mess much with the early years. "All My Loving," "Yesterday," "Paperback Writer," "Day Tripper" and "I'm Looking Through You" were, in fact, the only the pre-"Revolver" tracks, while "Let It Be" got five selections, which is weird because McCartney's always had a problem with that album - especially Phil Spector's string arrangement on "The Long and Winding Road." What's weirder still is that he had his keyboard player do the Spector string arrangement on that song (which still sounds great).
"The Long and Winding Road," the title track and "Get Back" were all pretty obvious choices, but he also dusted off two songs that should've been hit singles - "Two of Us" and a scrappy rendition of "I've Got a Feeling."
Other highlights from the Beatles years included "Blackbird," which McCartney prefaced with an anecdote about how the classic acoustic riff had grown out of his and George Harrison's attempts at playing Bach; a ukulele-driven rendition of Harrison's "Something;" "A Day in the Life" (which segued into Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance"); a rollicking "Back in the U.S.S.R." and an encore performance of "Lady Madonna."
Throughout the night, McCartney's sense of showmanship was as loopy as ever. He's still the cute one that way. And he genuinely seemed like he'd have played another hour when he told the crowd, "There does come a time where we have got to go home. And strangely, it coincides with the time when you've gotta go."
Of course, by that point, he'd already given the audience everything a reasonable Beatles fan could look for in a rock show while making a case for himself as a still-vital artist whose recent work can hold its head high in the company of all those classics.
"Venus and Mars/Rock Show"
"All My Loving"
"Got to Get You Into My Life"
"Let Me Roll It"
"Long and Winding Road"
"Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five"
"(I Want to) Come Home"
"I'm Looking Through You"
"Two of Us"
"Sing the Changes"
"Band on the Run"
"Back in the U.S.S.R."
"I've Got a Feeling"
"A Day in the Life/Give Peace a Chance"
"Let it Be"
"Live and Let Die"
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)/The End"
Note from Nawel: huge setlist change, I've always wished him to play Venus and Mars,or Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five, but having them both is just like paradise.