Paul McCartney, Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA – 8/15
At 68 years old, it would be perfectly acceptable for Paul McCartney to take the stage, play 15 or 20 of his greatest hits, get a standing ovation and say goodbye. What he actually did, was play a remarkable 37 song, three hour set that did not let up. The Wings classic “Jet” got the show rolling, after which Paul switched gears and performed a couple Beatles classics: “All My Loving” and “Drive My Car.” To hear these songs, sung by this man, on that same classic Hofner bass is a real treat to any Beatles fan.
An early highlight was the “Let Me Roll It / Foxy Lady” combo, with Paul paying homage to the greatest left handed guitarist ever by jamming out to “Foxy Lady” on his own electric guitar. Paul told one of his charming stories after the Foxy Lady jam, recalling a story where he was at a Jimi Hendrix show and Jimi had to call out for Eric (Clapton) to help him tune his guitar, just one example of how McCartney has a great knack for making a 20,000 seat arena feel like his living room.
“The Long and Winding Road,” “Let ‘Em In” and “I’ve Just Seen a Face” came next, and it must be nice to have songs of this quality be the “filler” tunes in a setlist. Paul then led the band thru a moving version of “Blackbird” that featured McCartney picking at his acoustic guitar and reaching some amazing high notes. Paul’s letter to John came next, with the emotional “Here Today,” reminding the audience that there was a ying to Paul’s yang. One of Paul’s newest tunes, “Dance Tonight” gets some more of the crowd dancing, and although it’s no “Yesterday” lyrics-wise, it still gets the job done when played live. Soon after, Paul picked up the ukulele and while playing around with it, shared a story about telling his old friend George that he just learned one his songs on the uke, before launching into “Something,” which served as a heartfelt tribute to the late Harrison.
As we came closer to the end of the set, Paul delivered hit after hit, including “Band on the Run,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Back in the U.S.S.R,” “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “Paperback Writer.” Another highlight (yes there were many but look at the span of his career) was “A Day in the Life” in which Paul and the band nailed both sections, including a nearly flawless transition into John’s post-Beatles masterpiece “Give Peace A Chance” which seemingly had every fan in attendance singing along to the hippie anthem. How do you follow up two songs of that magnitude? McCartney moved behind the piano and treated the crowd to “Let it Be” before the pyrotechnics shook the arena for “Live and Let Die.” Sir Paul then ended the set behind the piano once more, belting out another little ditty he penned, “Hey Jude.”
McCartney and his group returned for a first encore consisting of stellar versions of “Day Tripper,” “Lady Madonna” and “Get Back” that must have brought back some lucid memories for much of the older audience. After another quick departure, Paul returned for “Yesterday,” and then so as not to end the night on a slow note, led the band thru a ripping version of “Helter Skelter,” followed by “Sgt Pepper’s (reprise)” and “The End.”
Jumping back and forth from the bass, guitars, uke, and piano, Paul showed no signs of aging, nor signs of losing the enjoyment of being Sir Paul. Although at times it is obvious he gets emotional when performing music by John and George, or when he dedicated “My Love” to Linda, it doesn’t appear as if he wants to be anywhere else but on stage, singing these amazing songs with all of us along for the ride.