Saturday, July 16, 2016

Concert Review: Paul McCartney @ Citizens Bank Park - Philadephia PA 07/12/16

Musical Therapy - Using music to contemplate ones existence.  Realizing how small we are when put into context by important musical significance.

Dr. Paul McCartney is in.

Paul McCartney and the Beatles have played a major role in my musical life.  I recognized, at an early age, their importance buying my first Beatles album at 13.  I don't know if I could tell you my Top 5 favorite albums of all time but I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that my #1 album of all time is Abbey Road, which was released just about exactly a year before I was born.  I have spent many hours alone with these songs.  Listening to each track just following a single instrument at a time.  Given the popularity, I am not the only one.  Still after all of these years I had never seen one of The Beatles live.  I was recently offered the opportunity to see Paul and realized it may be one of my last chances to do so.  Hopefully, the experience would not hinder the meaning of the music to me.

The person who secured the tickets for me is a very dear friend whom I love very much.  She told me when she saw Paul she cried.  A former co-worker shared a similar story.  He told me that The Beatles were notoriously bad live.  That Wings were average on a stage.  But Paul blew him away when he saw him about 5 years ago and during the encore he became exceedingly emotional.  I didn't dare myself not to cry but I doubted that I would.

I was fortunate enough to bring along two close friends and my oldest son.  I am forever grateful for being able to share this experience with him.  As we sat in the parking lot before the concert even he realized the importance of this show.  He shared that more than anything he wanted to hear "Eleanor Rigby".  He asked what I wanted to hear.  I couldn't decide. There are so many important songs between The Beatles, Wings, and Paul McCartney that I couldn't imagine narrowing it down to one song.  At that moment it hit me.  "Blackbird".  I wanted to hear "Blackbird".

We met our friends at Will Call and found we would be sitting on the floor.  9th row center!  Not only would I be seeing a legend but I would be close enough to make the show intimate.  We realized how special the night would be when we arrived to find we would be sitting next to Fred Armisen and Natasha Lyonne.

Paul McCartney shows begin in a very special way.  Although there is no opening act he does bring along a DJ.  DJ Chris Holmes doesn't open for Paul McCartney, he primes him.  He manages to create a pregame parking lot atmosphere in a 50,000 seat venue.

Chris combines a danceable mixture of The Beatles and Paul McCartney but he also includes covers of both artists as well.  You may hear Paul McCartney followed by an obscure reggae version of a Beatles tune.  Besides the fun of guessing what song would be next you could not stop dancing. By the time he was done his set the crowd was wearing smiles.

When Paul finally came to the stage adorned with a Nerhu jacket and bass the crowd exploded.  I can't think of a more fitting way to start a show than the iconic opening to "Hard Day's Night".

It's easy to forget that sir Paul is 74 years old.  His years of Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll seem to suit him much better than the aging rockers who have had clean living and facial surgery.  Not only did he still look great, he sounded great.

As Paul ripped through his opening set of tunes, including "Can't Buy Me Love", I quickly realized how talented his backing band was.  They are some of the better session artists that you could find and they knew the significance of making Paul look good and to serve the music.

Paul continued to treat us with a mix of hits from The Beatles, Wings, and his solo career from old to new including a personal favorite of mine, "Let Me Roll It".  It was amazing how relevant his new material was, like "Queenie Eye" and "New" when mixed in with the old.  It would be impossible to play every meaningful song the man has been a part of but he sure did try.

At 74 years old Sir Paul played 38 songs over three hours only stopping briefly for an encore.  Along the way he stopped to honor fallen comrades.  He played "Love Me Do" for George Martin explaining that he was so nervous when George asked him to sing "Love Me Do" so John could play the harmonica that he can still hear his voice quiver when he listens to the record.

He told a story about George Harrison being an exceptional Ukulele player and teaching him how to play "Something" on one which he shared for us.  He played "Here Today" which was a conversation that he never had a chance to have with John, Lastly, he honored Linda with "Maybe I'm Amazed".

We were also treated with "In Spite of All the Danger" which was the first song they recorded as The Quarrymen.  It was an incredible trip down memory lane.  Just then Paul came to the front of the stage onto a platform that lifted him into the sky.  He talked about writing a song about Civil Rights.  And then he played "Blackbird"

It was at that moment that the emotion started to bubble up inside of me.  My son looked at me an knew what this moment meant.  I couldn't help but to tear up. I thought of all the times that song has played for me through out my life.  How all of this music has been a soundtrack to my years and has meant so much to so many people.  How this man helped change the musical landscape drastically not in a matter of decades but in a matter of years.  And on this night I stood in front of him and listened intently with tears in my eyes.

Shortly after this Paul played "Eleanor Rigby" which made me happy watching how happy it made my son.  I have a friend that felt that Paul should have hung it up years ago.  I respectfully disagree.  He was at the top of his game as a performer.  Before playing "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" he shared that most of the lyrics came from a poster on John's wall.

Paul was nearing the end of the set and he was ending it with purpose.  "Band on the Run", "Back in the U.S.S.R.", and "Let it Be" played before the pyrotechnic launch of "Live and Let Die".  I could feel the heat from my seat.

The show ended with the crowd singing along to "Hey Jude".  No one expected this to be the end and it wasn't.  Paul came back with his band waving an American Flag, a British Flag, and a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania flag before performing "Yesterday".

He tried to leave before a roadie coaxed him back onstage with his band to play "Hi, Hi, Hi" and "Birthday".  This is the point is Paul's shows where he brings audience members on stage who had signs.  This led to a marriage proposal and many funny moments from Uncle Paul.  He said his goodbyes before playing the closing medley from side two of Abby Road. It wasn't just me in tears.  It was everyone.  There wasn't a dry eye in the place.  We stood there in amazement as the band left behind a cloud of smoke and confetti.

This was my 87th show and I have never been this moved by a concert.  I am not sure I ever will be again.  It was a man at the top of his game doing what so few can do.  I will remember this forever.  I want to thanks everyone that made this evening possible.

"And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make"

See you when the needle drops!


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  1. Stellar review my friend... thrilled you were so moved & blown away :)

  2. *Fab*review, Fran! Reading your experience brought back my memory of seeing PM 2yrs ago at Safeco Field. Your experience nearly paralleled mine. I became a bona fide Beatles fan at the age of 13, too. They were my gateway drug into listening & appreciating music. I was thrilled to see a real Beatle in concert, finally, and even more thrilled to harmonize with him, esp on 'Blackbird'. 'Let Me Roll It' became a new fave 4 me after seeing his show, too. I agree, we are quite lucky to witness this legend who is in rare form as he approaches his mid 70s. I have to pinch myself. Glad you got to share this experience with special loved ones, too.

    1. Thank you Steph!!! I think you and I share very similar musical paths so I am not surprised we had similar experiences but I think you could have interviewed everyone there and I think it would have been a consensus. It is easily my favorite show of all time and I am not a fan of Stadium shows so for him to pull this off is stellar. Thank you for sharing your story and the feedback. Always appreciated!!!

  3. A half a lifetime ago I saw him live with his band at the time, and he put on an incredible show. I guess he always delivers, even 30 years later! Every time I see one of his concert specials or pop in one of the Concert DVDs I have amassed, they bring back the feelings of that night. His present band is spectacular and I get chills every time I hear them play and support Paul with stellar vocals and harmonies. If he ever comes back to my location, it will be a must to experience him again. Great review and Pics, my friend.


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