Friday, August 05, 2011

McCartney in Cincinnati--Song by Song

1--Hello Goodbye--The band appeared onstage to the expected cheers and jammed for about 30 seconds on some pretty heavy but unfamiliar sounding music. Then Paul burst into this song's familiar opening, "You say YES..." and pandemonium broke loose. Resplendent in his Cincinnati Red(s) jacket, the years just fell away as he turned the song into a greeting for all of us attendees. I first bought this record around 1971 at The Music Mart in downtown Cincinnati, a store that specialized in selling older 45's.

2--Junior's Farm--This was the song that was playing on the loudspeakers in 1976 when I purchased my ticket to see Wings. It was one of my favorite Wings songs and I couldn't wait to hear them play it! Only they didn't. I had to wait 35 years to hear and see Paul do this one live. It was worth it!

3--All My Loving--I've seen the clip so many times I really can't say for sure anymore but I THINK my parents and I tuned in to THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW that February night in 1964 when this became the first Beatles song to be seen and heard on live American television. Even seeing that clip today, the effect is electrifying. It was hard to drink in the importance of that man singing that particular song--and so well--again last night. Wow.

4--Jet--Always a crowd pleaser, lyrically JET is a bit of a mess but it sure sounds good to hear it sung. I think he performed this one in each of the 4 concerts I've seen from him. Some great keyboard work from Wix!

5--Drive My Car--One of my least favorite Beatles numbers on record but I saw on the 1993 tour that it played well in concert with it's "Beep Beep, Beep Beep, YEAH!" refrain! Much fun last night!

6--Sing the Changes--One of the more accessible of the Fireman numbers but would have preferred something from maybe CHAOS AND CREATION IN THE BACK YARD asa representatively more recent song.

7--The Night Before--Highly touted on this tour as the first time the number has ever been played live, this was my second favorite song from HELP (after the title number) the first time I watched it on television circa 1967 and he did it justice last night.

8--Let Me Roll It/Foxy Lady--The heavy Wings number from VENUS AND MARS with an instrumental take on Hendrix grafted on to the end. Never a favorite song of mine, I preferred the unusual Hendrix jam to the actual piece!

9--Paperback Writer--Another early favorite, I remember enjoying this one on the radio long before I actually bought the record around '71. Since I've always wanted to be a writer I've always gravitated to it. It's my son's favorite Beatles number, also.

10--The Long And Winding Road--My all-time favorite song, the last Beatles single before the breakup and my first Beatles single ever! My enjoyment of last night's beautiful version was marred only slightly by some sort of security issue at the end of our row during the number.

11--Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five--This song came out about ten years before its date originally and is now 26 years in the past. Still a rousing rocker, though.

12--Let 'Em In--Nice use of the behind the stage screen on this 1976 Wings hit and Abe's marching band drumming was infectious.

13--Maybe I'm Amazed--Never a single at the time of the McCARTNEY album's release, this now-classic number has been called the most Beatles-like song of all Macca's solo numbers. It's a lovely song and was beautifully performed as always.

14--I've Just Seen a Face--A popular Beatles number but just seems to have been thrown in here among mostly even better material. It was quick and fun and familiar.

15--I Will--From 1968's White Album which I didn't get until around 1978. Ever since, I've said this short, sweet number was Paul's best-SUNG song. Preceded last night by a cute anecdote, it was great to hear it live, still sung in such a lilting voice.

16--Blackbird--Another interesting anecdote accompanied this always lovely number although, quite frankly, I'm not sure how much I believe that this was about civil rights unrest from the beginning. The Bach story was cool, though!

17--Here Today--I actually got a little teary during this tribute to John. With a similar tribute to George coming up I was kind of disappointed that there was no shoutout to Ringo since Paul made a point of announcing from the stage that one should always say things to people while they're still here to appreciate them.

18--Dance Tonight--The only other recent song performed, this is a catchy little number from 2007 but hardly in the leagues with the others heard last night.

19--Mrs. Vanderbilt--Another throwaway mid-seventies Wings album cut that becomes a surprise concert hit with its "Ho! Hey ho!" chants!

20--Eleanor Rigby--Another all-time favorite song--probably in my Top 20 at least. It was a near-letter perfect rendition, too, yet I was somehow left not feeling as emotional as a single play of the record makes me feel even today.

21--Something--George Harrison's most beautiful and most McCartney-like number, sung in tribute here on ukelele by Paul. It works.

22-Band on the Run--This being the On the Run tour, you knew the band would get to this. The accompanying video was hard to see but was the behind the scenes video from the classic album cover shoot with Christopher Lee, James Coburn and other celebs caught in the spotlight.

23--Obla Di Obla Da--Another White Album song never performed live by the Beatles or since, they don't come any bouncier than this one and we all ate its silly sweetness up last night.

24--Back in the USSR--A good solid, rocking version of this, another White Album song done more to parody the Beach Boys than as a political comment. With the USSR (and the BOAC) long gone, by now all that counts is it rocks!

25--I've Got a Feeling--One of the better of the LET IT BE tracks, this song was a true Lennon-McCartney collaboration, being made of portions of two separate songs combined, one by each man. Performed live only at the legendary rooftop concert, it rocks hard here with guitarist Rusty Anderson taking on the Lennon parts.

26--A Day in the Life/Give Peace a Chance--Two powerful Lennon songs combined here into a powerful medley ending in the expected chanting to thousands of raised peace signs!

27--Let It Be--Hardly anybody's definition of a traditional rock song, this eventual title song from the Beatles' last-released project has become one of Paul's most popular anthems over the years. I thought it was his best number of the evening overall.

28--Live and Let Die--This 007 theme song from 1973 is always the big show-stopper and it was here again. Fire, explosions and fireworks as well as frantic playing and even more frantic camera work on the screens would make this the obvious closer for anyone else...but McCartney, being McCartney, can top it.

29--Hey Jude--And he does. I bought my first Beatles album in late 1970, THE BEATLES AGAIN. It was a collection of previously uncollected singles and B-sides spanning their career. I bought it because the great sing-a-long anthem that is HEY JUDE was on the LP. Last night, as always in concert, Paul led the sing-a-long to a rousing conclusion!

BUT...then there were the encores. SIX of them!

30--Lady Madonna--Another favorite from that BEATLES AGAIN LP starts the first encore set of three classic Beatles numbers!

31--Day Tripper--An early Lennon favorite of mine, McCartney does it justice and the vocals and the band makes it sound like it was late 1965 all over again. Amazing. Truly amazing.

32--Get Back--Another late period Beatles classic from Paul, this is yet another rousing and obvious closer...if you were anyone but Paul McCartney.

33--Yesterday--After a very quick, fairly pointless break, the sweaty band was back and Paul managed to completely quiet 40, 000 people with what can probably be referred to as the most popular song of the 20th Century, a song he's sung a thousand times and yet he still managed to instill it with every bit of the emotional depth it's always had behind it's oh-so-simple musical and lyrical structure.

34--Helter Skelter--Then just for fun, this unexpected tune, arguably an early heavy metal tune by the king of the pop ballads. This 1968 song was accompanied by video of a roller coaster ride as it built to a stirring climax!

And still he pulled another killer trick out of his bag!

35--Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End--I used to listen to this every morning as the closing theme of a local all-night radio deejay in late 1970. The first part is as lovely as anything Paul ever wrote, the second is an anthem and the third famously features a drum solo and dueling guitars building to a climax that ends with the iconic, "And in the end..." sung so beautifully and out. Incredible.

After that, this 69 year-old man who seems to have thus far totally dodged the passage of time, who sweated through his shirt by the third number and was never once seen swilling water for nearly three hours of non-stop, all-out playing and singing, stepped to the mike and yelled, as he has for many, many years..."See ya next time!" The cheers echoed, the confetti boomed out over the crowds and the magic slowly began to fade as the living legend left the stage...til next time.


  1. Sounds like a fantastic gig, Steve! And what a collection of classic songs! I'd love to hear Paul sing Hey Jude ( my favourite Beatles song ) live. And Eleanor Rigby and Golden Slumbers and Helter Skelter and...

    Maybe one day...

  2. A high point for me was watching him grace my hometown of Winnipeg- Mull of Kintyre featured a local group of kids with a drum featuring the provincial flag.

  3. Sorry- just wanted to add my appreciation for your outline of his concert. 69 years old and his energy and professionalism shames today's generation of performers. I was always grateful to have the Beatles as my heroes- they might stumble like us mortals but always put their fame and abilities in making the world a better place. Most of all, I agree with you about The Night Before- I can remember the first time I hear it on the turntable, having borrowed the LP from my local library. Can't believe he's singing it live for the first time, but then without the backing vocals, what is it?