Paul McCartney has something to prove. What’s between him and his shrink, though perhaps a desire to look and feel intact, isn’t all that mysterious. What we do know for sure is that, in the year of our lord 2022, McCartney is doing two-hour, 40-minute sets that include 36 songs. If that sounds a bit lazy, also consider that the singer is sticking to his touring custom of the past few years and doing more informal, hour-long “sound checks” of 8-13 songs before the gates. only open to fans who buy. VIP packages, something that puts him on stage for nearly four hours each show day.
It wasn’t said during Friday night’s SoFi Stadium show in Los Angeles, and without any hint – even though the Beatlemaniacs marked it on their calendars for next month – it’s that he’ll be 80. next month, two days after the tour ended. It may be unfair to compare how different performers age, but it’s worth pointing out that McCartney is doing these pretty marathon shows at a time in his life that goes beyond when Frank Sinatra did his last gig, after a few years of erraticism. notorious. And yet, here we are at a point where, for him anyway, 80 seems to be the new July or August of his years. No one would blame McCartney, or very few would, if he cut a few corners: cut the set length to a reasonable two hours here, lower the keys a bit there, or drop some of the vocal ad libs for save his vote for Syracuse. . But McCartney isn’t about to use impending octogenarianism as a justification to finally cut it short. In fact, it doesn’t even go three-quarters there.
Sure, SoFi Stadium was filled with loyal patrons — from “Wings Over America” veterans at the Forum in 1976, if not the Beatles at the Bowl in 1964 — but you didn’t have to look too far to see the view from a 20-year-old kid with a 75-year-old grandpa, or even proactive Gen-Z groups who didn’t need baby boomer attendants to see the value ahead. Whatever else might motivate McCartney to prove it all night, he is surely aware that the “Got Back” tour is the only live experience of his music or the Beatles that these young participants will have in their lifetime, and they’re not going to be ranking on a curve. It’s up to the oldies to decide: were there enough 70s deep cuts in the setlist? Is her voice what it was during the 2003 tour? But it’s hard to imagine that too many people who experienced this as their first or only McCartney show didn’t come away with deep feelings that they might feel compelled to tell their own grandchildren about it.
The show here largely follows the pattern set by the 2019 tour, so anyone who attended the tour finale at Dodger Stadium in July of this year but missed SoFi need not worry about missing a Too much variation compared to the previous iteration. But McCartney didn’t really design the show with the double divers in mind; LA is one of the few markets he hit in 2019 that he returns to in 2019, while in several other cities he hasn’t played in decades (Baltimore) or at all (Spokane). Over the past three years, a number of songs have been released (this time there is no longer “A Hard Day’s Night”, the cover of “Sgt. Pepper”, “Eleanor Rigby”, “From Me to You”, “I ‘ve Just Seen a Face” and – I bet you’ve seen this one come or go – “Back in the USSR”). Others have been reinserted from years and past tours (including “Getting Better”, “We Can Work It Out”, “New” and – hey, what’s that buried nugget? – “Get Back”).
Somewhat surprisingly, “Women and Wives” is the only song from her latest album, “McCartney III,” to plug into the tour, and even that was missing from SoFi’s setlist, for some reason. But perhaps the reasons for underestimating “III” are generally obvious; it was a pandemic album, scaled down and clearly not designed for stadiums, unlike its predecessor, “Egypt Station”. McCartney half-joked that when he’s playing a Beatles song, it’s like a galaxy of cellphone lights, and when he’s doing contemporary material, he’s staring into a black hole. But there was no jostling in the bathroom during the 21st Century picks, not even for “Fuh You,” the Ryan Tedder co-write that McCartney continues to seem to love beyond reason. despite the best recent choices available to him. (Would he rather accept a request for “Deep, Deep Feeling”? No, he probably wouldn’t.)
As for older songs that haven’t been tried on tour before, McCartney isn’t doing much of that rediscovery this tour, though fans get “You Never Give Me Your Money” (last performed in tour in 2003) and “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window” (one tour only in 2005) as a medley for the first time. Perhaps the real rookie in programming is the idea of ”I’ve Got a Feeling” as a Lennon-and-McCartney encore duo, with isolated footage and sound of their late partner taken from the film “Get Back” by Peter Jackson for the purpose of the tour.
The show’s loose structure will also raise a bit of deja vu for those returning from 2019: a rocking opening stretch heavily reliant on ’70s rockers like “Junior’s Farm” and “Letting Go” as Act 1; a partially acoustic, “Storytellers”-like magical story tour about the Beatles’ rise as the backbone of Act 2, winding all the way back to the Quarrymen’s “In Despite All the Danger” and leading into the Lennon’s “Here Now” tribute and Harrison’s “Something” cover; and then, leaving the third hour to be the birthday sons, na-na-na-na-na-na-na-ing and “Abbey Road” medley-izing.
This structure definitely works, as does, as part of a winning formula, a band that has now been together for far more years than the Beatles ever were, guitarist Rusty Anderson, guitarist-bassist Brian Ray , keyboardist Paul “Wix” Wickens and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. The latter player is also the only dancer on the tour, causing a storm behind the kit during “Dance Tonight” before ultimately being forced to sit down and dance. help kick off an acoustic jam in the middle of the song. Anderson and Ray do an eternally expert job of recreating parts that McCartney did largely by himself on his DIY records, and put themselves in Lennon and Harrison’s shoes by joining in on the triplicate guitar solos of “The End”. The horns have occasionally been reproduced as keyboard parts on past tours, so the sight of an actual three-way horn section on selections like “Letting Go” and “Got to Get You Into My Life” was welcome. . The real star of the show, in some ways: the Hofner bass, which McCartney not only plays for a substantial portion of the show, but was animated for the pre-show countdown, descending on the big screen as a version of the The Times Square New Year’s Ball lands as a giant version of the “2001” monolith before attendees see it in the flesh of wood.
And what about McCartney as a singer… at 79 and 11/12? He was, by some almost objective measures, the best all-around singer as well as the most accomplished mainstream songwriter of the rock ‘n’ roll era – and how convenient it was in the 20th century to have both in one package. The catalog is set in stone, but its ability to imitate Little Richard’s cry, or navigate the eternally tricky twists of “Maybe I’m amazed,” eternally isn’t something we can assume or wait. It’s just assumed that rockers can sing their classics forever, until we’re woken up to the fact that they can’t, as with the recent example of leaked videos of a certain 80s icon that doesn’t come in a prayer to hit the notes on his band’s most enduring hit. Any fears of this happening with McCartney are thankfully unfounded so far. Which isn’t to say that observant fans won’t note and discuss inevitable ballad passages in which you’ll hear an interesting combination of vigor and temporal fragility in his voice. But make no mistake – it picks up the notes it’s always been looking for and hits them, without the usual accommodations power singers have to make when they reach old age. He still has howls. And if you listen carefully, it might just be a softer, less throat-ravaging version of the howl he used to do. It’s more of a technical tweak than anything that will stop anyone from enjoying a ‘Helter Skelter’ resurrection, anyway.
Yes, “Helter Skelter” is still in the set, and just as rewarding as ever, with McCartney maintaining his status as king of the heap on the precipice of a time when we used to think Chuck Berry was going through the motions. with a group of microphones in front of a few hundred people was as good as the grandfather-statesman. Even though McCartney made history with the Beatles 60 years ago, it feels like he’s making history again by pushing the boundaries of how long you can keep doing this kind of massive, demanding show (as opposed to a Dylan or a Willie, who are also there and do it, but with lesser expectations of increased energy in the stadium). Being on stage in front of 60,000 people, being able to confidently coo and bellow songs you wrote 60 years ago isn’t something God wrote into the human contract, but McCartney (like the Stones and Who and not too others) came out to prove nature and the Almighty wrong. McCartney’s only nod to the passage of time was a final promise that “we’ll see you next time.” Do do we get that privilege, at that high level of performance, again in two or three years? In six? Who knows, but for now, there’s reason to be grateful that he just can’t help but return to the top of the slide.
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