The Detroit News
Paul McCartney takes Detroit by storm
Susan Whitall/ Detroit News Music Writer
Thunder and lightning raked across the sky over Comerica Park Sunday night, but it was no match for the fireworks Paul McCartney mustered onstage, both figuratively and literally.
His well-honed showmanship and impeccable music filled hearts and minds in the sold-out ballpark even before fireworks exploded over the stage during "Live and Let Die."
And he was a gracious visitor. McCartney gave heartfelt thanks to Detroit and Motown early on.
"We had a little time off today and we went to the Motown museum," McCartney told the crowd, six songs into the set. "Holy grail! When I was listening to records as a kid in Liverpool, learning the songs 'You Really Got a Hold on Me' (by the Miracles) and 'Money' (by Barrett Strong), wow! So we'd like to do a song we don't normally do, for Detroit and for Motown, one of my favorites by Mr. Marvin Gaye."
And with that, he led his tight band into "Hitchhike," one of Gaye's early hits. "Thank you Detroit, and thank you Motown!" the former Beatle said after a rendition rhythmic enough to make a Funk Brother smile.
Rain showers cooled off the audience earlier, and a boom of thunder hit just before 8 p.m., prompting the crowd to cheer — what a way to go, right? Watching an original Beatle from a $200 seat as lightning arcs across downtown Detroit.
But the rain let up by the time McCartney took the stage. He's racked up 69 years but looks as trim as when he first played Olympia Stadium in Detroit in 1964, a brash 22-year-old.
(Yes, at this point he'd have to sing "When I Was 64").
He strode onto the stage at 8:30 sharp on black Beatle boots, clutching his Hofner "Beatle" bass guitar.
"You say yes, I say no you say stop but I say go go go" were the first words we heard as he kicked off with the Beatles' "Hello, Goodbye."
Dressed in a black collarless jacket with red piping down the front over a white button-up shirt, McCartney shucked his jacket early on to reveal thin suspenders.
At one point, the former Beatle stopped the show, to "take a minute to drink in these Detroit vibrations," he said, nodding and smiling as the crowd cheered, wetting his finger and then waggling it in the universal sign for "hot"!
Let there be no mistake, McCartney can still sing. His voice has deepened over the years from the sparkling, high Irish tenor of the '60s, but there is a burnished suppleness to it that serves him well over what would be a long show for a 30-year-old. And in a pinch he can evince a fab winsomeness with a well-chosen high note.
There is no substitute, not even the Beatles' "Love" show, for singing the "Nah nah nah" chorus along with the real thing. For three hours, we were all fab again.