Paul McCartney, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY- 6/10
Picture a concert hall in 1964, full with fans of every age, anxiously awaiting the appearance of a musician they’ve idolized for almost a half century. The house goes dim, the crowd roars in anticipation, and Irving Berlin appears center stage, leading his band through close to 40 songs as everyone in the packed house sings along.
Unlikely scenario, but fast forward almost 50 years from when the Beatles first hit the scene, and that’s essentially what Paul McCartney has been doing during his Out There tour. To say that Sir Paul is a rock icon is an understatement, but he delivered a three plus hour show that demonstrated an appreciation for the fans of all ages in attendance. The voice may be a few octaves lower, but he still hit the high notes while signing “Maybe I’m Amazed,” dedicated to his late wife Linda, and snarled and howled through “Helter Skelter.” McCartney managed to connect with the crowd throughout the show, telling tales of Jimi Hendrix, Russian oligarchs, John Lennon and George Harrison. Historical perspective tied into all these anecdotes; this music has been with us through the Vietnam War, Civil Rights battles, Watergate, moon landings, assassinations, cell phones, disco (eh), the internet and on and on. Many of us have grown up with this stuff, going through all the joys, pains, wins and losses of life. Although The Beatles existed as an actual, performing group for a relatively short period, this music has remained a cross cultural touchstone, bridging nations and generations.
One of the reasons the Beatles stopped touring in 1966 was that they felt they could no longer perform their increasingly complex music live – screaming fans and limited technology made it impossible to faithfully recreate the more layered, synthesized and orchestrated sounds of Rubber Soul and Revolver. Playing two songs from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “Lovely Rita” and “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite,” McCartney and his band ( Rusty Anderson on guitar, Brian Bay, guitar and bass, Paul Wickens, keyboards and Abe Laroriel, Jr. on drums) demonstrated how far amplification and MIDI system have advanced in the almost-to-the-day forty six years since the June 1967 release of the album. Inspired by a circus poster John Lennon purchased in an antique shop and performed by McCartney for the 1st time live during this tour, the song sounded true to the original, with all the kaleidoscoping, twirling carnival sound on the album. At another point in the show, house lights dimmed, McCartney performed the moody, stark Eleanor Rigby, with Wickens’ keyboard providing George Martins string arrangements.
During the thirty eight song concert, Paul made the audience, which included Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Rudd, part of the show. He encouraged a sing along during the White Album’s “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” and thanked a fan for screaming out “You’re doing great Paulie”. The second song of the first encore, “I Saw Her Standing There,” was originally performed on the Ed Sullivan show on February 9th, 1964. Over 73 million people watched that show, and those of us in attendance old enough to remember that moment were brought back to the excitement, the promises of this new sound. Naïve perhaps, but, as Sir Paul sang in the shows final moments…”And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.”