Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A paperback writer visits Sir Paul


Writing a review for a Paul McCartney concert seems almost pointless.  It's not like you're going to get a stinker from a guy who was in The Beatles.  Nevertheless, I will relay my thoughts on his show at Wrigley Field on August 1st, 2011.

First off, I was very happy to be back in "the friendly confines" of Wrigley Field.  Okay, okay, they haven't been that "friendly" this year with the way that my beloved Cubs have been playing, but just to see the statues of Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, and Harry Caray, just to soak in the history, it's worth it every time. 
That said, I don't think that Wrigley makes all that great of a concert venue, what with it being outdoors (never been a fan of outdoor venues in general) and all those pesky support poles in the way.  It was especially uncomfortable on the night in question.  We in the Chicago area...hell, the whole mid-section of the nation, have been having temperatures in 100s once you factor in the humidity.  I don't think I have ever produced more sweat than I did last Monday night.  Not that any of you needed to know that but still...
It seemed a bit odd for me to be there.  I like The Beatles.  I don't love them the way I love U2 and Duran Duran, but I've always held them in fair esteem.   The issue is that the majority of my favorite Beatles tunes are sung by John Lennon.  Unfortunately, I was born a little late for one of those shows.  So I'm glad that Sir Paul reminded me of just how many quality songs he was responsible for.  We were treated to "Eleanor Rigby," "Magical Mystery Tour," and several other Beatles gems, including "Helter Skelter," a song that is in my opinion the very first heavy metal composition.  One song that really struck me was "Paperback Writer."  Not simply because of the lyrics being pertinent to me but because of the images flashed on the massive viewscreens during the song's performance.  It was a slow fade montage of painted pulp covers, all of them featuring nurses with surgical masks across their mouths.  The books had lurid titles such as Naked Nurse, Man-Crazy Nurse (see below), and my favorite...Hootenanny Nurse.  In a few cases, the lips of the nurses bled through their masks with red lipstick and then dripped like paint down the otherwise white canvass.  I know that Sir Paul has painted gallery-level artwork before, but I'm not certain if any of these were his paintings or not.  In any event, it was a great song providing the soundtrack for a delightfully campy bit of pop art.

Remember what I said about John Lennon?  I figured that Yoko would never legally allow Paul to play any Lennon songs live.  So my jaw dropped when Paul went into "A Day In the Life"...one of my all-time favorite Beatles songs...and then smoothly segued into "Give Peace a Chance."  I'd like to think that John would've approved.
I'm not overly familiar with Sir Paul's work with Wings or his solo stuff, that is except for the early 80s hits like "Say Say Say" and "Spies Like Us" (yeah, yeah I know.)  But two of the night's highlights came from that body of songs.  He rendered an especially poignant "Maybe I'm Amazed" and my favorite, "Live And Let Die," complete with enough pyro and flamethrowers to make Iron Maiden blush with envy. 

While fighting like mad to catch a cab to Union Station for the last train out, I took away two important things from this Paul McCartney concert:

1) This man who is just shy of 70 years old played a three and a half hour set in terrible heat and showed no sign of fatigue.  He never once showed a sign of letting up and he still rocks as hard as he ever did.  Heck, even my favorite bands can only muster a 90 minute set at times while this guy practically runs a marathon.  I can only hope I fair so well at that age.

2) I have never been to a show where there are two songs that the singer can stop singing and the crowd will automatically take over word-for-word.  Two.  Those two are "Let It Be" and "Hey Jude."  It's quite a moment in music just to experience those songs live and in person.

It's a pity we didn't hear "Drive My Car" and the geek in me really wants to experience "Magneto vs. Titanium Man," but to hear everything would have pushed the show into the four and a half hour total.  I needed to make the train.  Besides, Paul's not superhuman.  
Or is he???



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