Sir Paul surpasses All– The Louisville Concert

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The concert in Louisville was supposed to happen last June, but then Paul got sick. Pretty seriously sick. Worse still, Louisville was the last concert date on the tour— think no voice left, no energy left, especially when you are 73 years of age! You must kidding. Bear in mind that while Ringo is still out there doing concerts, of course Ringo did not write any of the classic Beatles songs, and sang lead only rarely, so if you really wanted to see a concert full of Beatles songs— Paul is the last man standing. No knock on Ringo, but his All Star Band does not produce many Beatles moments.

So when Oct. 28th rolled around, I was holding my cards close to my chest, not sure how this venture would turn out. Things began ominously with a 35 minute delay, but perhaps Paul was entertaining the VIP ticket buyers ($1,100 a pop and you get a meet and greet). But when we got going, boy did we get going—- 39 songs later we ran for the exits as Paul played a second round of encores beginning with Yesterday and then Helter Skelter…. It was already after 11 p.m. and the girls (Ann and Lisa Myers) had to go to work early on Wednesday. Fortunately we cruised right home and got there by 12.30ish. And we had shared a bucket list item to remember. The concert was amazing in so many ways (on which see below).

The Yum arena is some kind of massive Pittino dome with better acoustics than Freedom Hall, but not by a lot. But then, Paul needed a space to entertain close to 30,000 of his closest friends. Here we are……
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Then there was this— it was exactly 50 years ago this Fall that my previous incarnation as a 12 year old in High Point N.C. saw the Beatles on a black and white TV perform on the Ed Sullivan Show ‘Love me Do’ and ‘I Want to Hold your Hand’, and it was then that I looked at my Mom the pianist and said ‘I need a guitar’. With money from my first real job (ice cream dipper at the Guildford Dairy Bar) I remember buying my first Beatles albums. When I bought the White Album in 1968 it was a rip off because it had already been opened, and played, on their drugstore stereo, and yet the lady charged me full price. Oh well…. the music was great and the cover was…… welll….. White.

50 years is a long time to wait to see a Beatle, a really old Beatle, whose voice has a bit more quaver and less strength in the upper register than when he was much younger…. but remarkably,he still can pull it off. Here was the set list (more or less) from the website of what we heard….

Eight Days a Week
(The Beatles song)
Save Us
Listen to What the Man Said
(Wings song)
Let Me Roll It
(Wings song) (with “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix snippet)
Paperback Writer
(The Beatles song)
My Valentine
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
(Wings song)
The Long and Winding Road
(The Beatles song)
Maybe I’m Amazed
I’ve Just Seen a Face
(The Beatles song)
We Can Work It Out
(The Beatles song)
Another Day
And I Love Her
(The Beatles song)
Blackbird
(The Beatles song)
Here Today
New
Queenie Eye
Lady Madonna
(The Beatles song)
All Together Now
(The Beatles song)
Lovely Rita
(The Beatles song)
Everybody Out There
Eleanor Rigby
(The Beatles song)
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
(The Beatles song)
Something
(The Beatles song)
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
(The Beatles song)
Band on the Run
(Wings song)
Back in the U.S.S.R.
(The Beatles song)
Let It Be
(The Beatles song)
Live and Let Die
(Wings song)
Hey Jude
(The Beatles song)
Encore:
Day Tripper
(The Beatles song)
Get Back
(The Beatles song)

Encore 2:
Yesterday
(The Beatles song)
Helter Skelter
(and the band played on….)

It is not a stretch to say that Paul McCartney is the greatest popular song writer of the last half century, or perhaps the whole century. This is so not just because of the incredible success and sales of his materials (and re-recordings by a zillion other artists), but because of the continued quality of the songs. Paul is not simply caricaturing himself doing oldies. He has had some remarkable excellent albums in the last decade or so, notably the new CD ‘NEW’ and ‘Flaming Pie’. The man is a creative machine with endless catchy tuneful song ideas. ‘And we love him….’

Paul is personable has funny anecdotes to relate along the way, for example when he first met Jimi Hendrix in London, Jimi had gotten a copy of Sgt. Peppers on Friday when it came out, memorized the whole thing, and then played it in a concert on Sunday with Beatles and Eric Clapton in the audience! Amazing.

You will not hear any off color language come out of this man’s mouth, either in his songs or in his banter about his songs. He is good to his fans, and there was a sweet moment when he invited a mother and daughter with signs up on the stage for a hug. And he has such good humor as well…. he said “when you are in the middle of playing a song and concentrating and you see one of these signs, half your brain says— ‘don’t read the sign your concentrating on the song, and the other half say, oh… go ahead and read the sign’. There were several signs that said, “I waited 50 years to see you” ….. I could have held up that sign.

Paul also related when he first met perhaps the most famous person to ever come from Louisville, Muhammad Ali, in the 60s in Florida when he was training for the Sonny Liston fight. In a sense Paul is like a remarkable boxer, whom no one can knock out. He kept going round after round, song after song…. and then there was the light show….. and explosions… and fire works (especially with the Bond movie song ‘Live and Let Die’— which honestly should have been the grand finale considering the smoke etc. it put into the arena…). Here are some samples….
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And of course there was the astronomically priced memorabilia, T-shirts etc. (one T-shirt= $40!!). paul6

Inevitably one gets asked what was one’s favorite moment. I loved the story about the Beatles playing in Red Square in Moscow and the Defense Minister comes up and says ‘my first record I bought— ‘Love Me Do’, which of course introduced Paul’s singing ‘Back in the USSR’. I loved that he sang the ‘Birthday’ song from the White Album for his eleven year old daughter who apparently was present with his wife Nancy at the concert, and sang to all the other folks who had birthdays as well on Oct. 28th.

I loved it all, but the solo acoustic performance of ‘Blackbird’, a song Paul wrote in the 60s in response to the civil rights marches and riots in the South to support the movement, was very special…he stood on a platform that raises him up into the air with a stark tree image on the screen behind him. It was very effective….and affecting. He then quipped that wherever he goes, so many people tell him they have tried to learn how to play that song on the guitar. I plead guilty…. I learned it when I was still young, and still love to play it….
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There are images that will be seared into my brain for a long time to come…. of a man with dyed hair still looking fit, still singing and playing and creating… now singing to three generations of parents, children, grandchildren who all came to this concert. We will long remember where we were “when we saw him standing there….” both when we were “just 17, you know what I mean…” and ‘when we were 64….’

Thank you Paul for the blessing of using the creative gift God gave you, and being willing to so freely share it and bring so much joy and fun to millions for half a century and more now. As you sing on your new album knowing that the meter is running, “there but for the grace of God go I…..”. My hope would be that before you meet your Maker in eternity, you will meet your Maker in space and time. What kind of music might that inspire in you? It is a consummation devoutly to be wished…. But then perhaps you’ve already been thinking of such things :)