Paul McCartney Out There Concert Review
Paul McCartney kicked off his U.S. Tour at the Amway Center last night, and the show was spectacular. He made his first visit to Orlando in thirty years a memorable one; a show that was amazing in every sense of the word.
- 165 minutes of amazing hits.
- 38 songs.
- 25 Beatles songs.
- A dozen priceless stories.
- At least 5 Beatles songs never before played by McCartney in the US.
- 2 encores.
- 1 amazing genre defining show.
Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I’ve been attending rock shows for many years, and have probably seen a thousand rock artists perform live. I was too young to catch The Beatles and somehow never caught Sir Paul. Saturday night in Orlando, I realized what I’ve been missing all these years. Simply put, it is just one of those shows that needs to be in any rock and roll animal’s concert-going portfolio.
“Oh my, that man is 70 years-old”
Uncharted charisma, boundless energy, superb musical talent, a liberal sharing of his immense library of timeless hits and a voice that is still one for the ages; it’s a sure-fire recipe for success.
This is a show and a tour that any rock fan of any age needs to attend. At seventy, there likely won’t be many more chances. And, regardless of the age, he puts on a performance absolutely better that almost any artist on the road today.
As an honest confession, I started the show as a reporter, but less than an hour into the spectacle, I had changed my perspective to “Screw it, I am going to just sit back (or stand up), enjoy this evening and soak it all in.” And damn sure, that’s exactly what I did.
Now, before I get into the details, here’s a spoiler alert: If you are going to see the show soon and want to be surprised, now might be a good time to stop reading. The setlist is provided here if you’d like to check it out.
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It didn’t take long to get the sold out Amway Center crowd on their feet. McCartney and his band mates took the stage to a rousing welcome and kicked into a smashing version of “Eight Days A Week,” a song Paul has rarely played, and not once since 1965! Not quite Beatlemania, but the crowd was instantly at near-fever pitch. He followed that with a powerful version of his Wings hit “Junior’s Farm” and the electricity never left the show.
The stage set-up was fitting for a rock show of this magnitude. Their was a large video screen behind the stage, flanked by two smaller ones for fans to the sides of the stage. However, the coolest video feature was a stage floor that was fully animated, adding an extra level of interactive entertainment to the experience. The lighting was fantastic and the pyrotechnics excellent.
Throughout the evening McCartney showcased his broad musical talent. At various times, we saw him play an assortment of guitars, bass guitar, ukulele, piano and keyboards. Although the show is all about McCartney, he has again surrounded himself with a superbly talented band. Guitarist Rusty Anderson and the versatile Brian Ray traded off nice leads all night, while keyboard player Paul Wickens and Drummer Abe Laboriel were excellent, as well. Most of the players have been touring with McCartney for years and they were extremely tight on stage.
McCartney dug deep into his robust catalog for a few other Beatles songs he had never played before in the United States. We heard the American debuts for “Your Mother Should Know,” a rollicking version of “All Together Now” and a cool take on John Lennon’s masterful “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” He pulled out “Lovely Rita” during the first encore set and also played his seldom heard classic “Another Day.” Lots of unexpected treats for the fans from Florida.
During the bluesy Wings rocker “Let Me Roll It” we heard the now familiar tribute to fellow lefty Jimi Hendrix, and a nice long snippet of “Foxy Lady,” where McCartney nailed Jimi’s solo. He again shared a nice story about how Hendrix opened his 1967 tour with a version of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” just two days after the album was released. It’s a story, like a few others this night, that we’ve heard before. But, Paul, a master story-teller is like that beloved uncle sharing the same old stories and still bringing a smile to your face every time. We heard some new tales, too, including a few humorous stories from his recent Brazilian tour and the virally famous grasshopper incident. As McCartney said, “just Google McCartney Grasshoppers” to see it.
An hour into the show, McCartney grabbed an acoustic guitar and moved to a small platform in front of the main stage, while the band took a short break. As he played the Civil Rights-era anthem “Blackbird,”, the stage elevated about twenty feet. Before descending, he also offered up a poignant version of his John Lennon tribute “Here Today.” There were some minor sound issues on the latter, but still a highlight moment.
He pulled out the ukulele for a cool re-imagined version of “Something,” sharing a story about jamming on duel ukuleles at George Harrison’s place. He then shared Frank Sinatra’s timeless quote that “Something” is “the greatest McCartney/Lennon song ever written!” Great compliment, but as Paul noted,”George wrote it.”
Towards the end of the main set, we heard a few popular Wings’ songs. “Hi, Hi, Hi” was a fun surprise and another one not often played by McCartney, and was followed up by a killer version of “Band on the Run.” From there it was “Back in the USSR,” an electrifying “Let It Be” and the explosive “Live and Let ie.” He closed the set with an extended sing-along version of “Hey Jude.”
Over the course of the two encores, he offered up eight more Beatles classics, including “Day Tripper,” “Get Back,” a tender solo version of “Yesterday” and a heavy, powerful rendition of “Helter Skelter,” where the video boards and stage were fantastically animated.
As we neared the three hour mark, it was the familiar closing medley of “Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End,” the fantastic culmination of “Abbey Road” and a fitting end to a magnificent night in Orlando.