Friday, August 7, 2009

Concert Review

Last night, I made a trip to Fenway Park to catch Paul McCartney play the second of two shows there. While walking up Commonwealth Ave and cutting over to Beacon St., I could hear the sound check and him playing Coming Up and All My Lovin'. That certainly boosted my already good spirits and set the tone for the pre concert dinner and cocktails with my sister.

Paul hit the stage around 7:50, with Beatles classic "Drive My Car", then "Jet" in which he butchered the lyrics, followed by two unknown solo songs "Only Mama Knows" and "Flaming Pie".

Despite being 67 years old, he sounded great, moved around with plenty of energy, and put on an impressive performance. I was concerned about the vocals, but those concerns were quickly put to rest as he growled through "Jet".

However, the set list made for a boring first half of the concert. There were a lot of lower key obscure post Wings solo songs, and classics like "Blackbird", Long and Winding Road" and "My Love" couldn't raise the overall interest of the crowd. .

The set list bizarrely ignored the timeframe of 1974-1981, where a string of Wings classics, such as "Listen To What the Man Said", "Silly Love Songs", "Let Em In" and "Coming Up" were neglected. It remains bewildering why Paul doesn't play those songs - everyone knows them and "Silly Love Songs", in particular, is still played often on oldies stations. "Maybe I'm Amazed" wasn't played either, but that may have had more to do with Paul's inability to no longer be able to sing the vocally challenging song. During a past tour, he dropped it from the set list because it took too much of a toll on his voice.

It wasn't until halfway through the show, when "Band On the Run" was played, that the crowd's interest really piqued and everyone started singing along to the third section of the Wings classic. The show was so flat up until that point that a WINGS SONG was what got the crowd going! After that, the show kicked into high gear with a flurry of Beatles hits such as "Back in the USSR", "Paperback Writer", "Something", "Hey Jude", "Day Tripper", "I Saw Her Standing There", and finishing up with with "Get Back", "Sgt. Pepper/The End"

Another criticism is the double John Lennon tribute. First there is the 1982 song "Here Today", then there's "A Day In the Life/Give Peace a Chance". Lennon's been dead for almost 30 years and the extra tribute seemed a bit exploitative. "Here Today" is a buzz kill. For what it's worth, Paul sings "Something" far better than George Harrison ever did. The song starts off as a ukelele version, until after the first verse, when the rest of the band kicks in, the ukelele is ditched for an acoustic guitar, and the song sounds oustanding.

Highlights of the show: "Live and Let Die" (with fireworks sailing over Fenway - I wonder what those on the Mass Pike thought as they drove by during this), "Band on the Run", "Something", "Day Tripper", "Paperback Writer".

Lowlights of the show: "Jet (which is usually stellar)", "Dance Tonight", "Here Today", new songs "Highway" and "Sing the Changes".

Of the five times I've seen Paul McCartney, this was probably my least favorite of the shows. However, the performance of the songs and energy brought to them were excellent and those who attended can say they got their money's worth. Show grade: B-

Set List:
01. drive my car
02. jet
03. only mama knows
04. flaming pie
05. got to get you into my life
06. let me roll it/ foxy lady
07. highway
08. long and winding road
09. my love
10. blackbird
11. here today
12. dance tonight
13. calico skies
14. michelle
15. mrs. vanderbilt
16. eleanor rigby
17. sing the changes
18. band on the run
19. back in the ussr
20. i'm down
21. something
22. i've got a feeling (with extended jam)
23. paperback writer
24. A day in the life
25. let it be
26. live and let die
27. hey jude

Encore #1
28. daytripper
29. lady madonna
30. I saw her standing there

Encore #2
31. yesterday
32. helter skelter
33. get back
34. Sgt Pepper reprise into The End

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