By DONNA BALANCIA
There was a time back in the late 1960s when it seemed the whole world believed “Paul Is Dead.”
Paul McCartney’s performance at Dodger Stadium Saturday night to wrap his Freshen Up tour proved exactly the opposite.
You did not have to hold an album upside-down or spin a 45 backwards on Saturday night to get clues that at 77 years old, McCartney is very much alive. The beloved “cute” Beatle put on a three-hour show that covered the classics from the fab four as well as with his band Wings and his solo career.
McCartney even brought out his former bandmate Ringo Starr for a couple of Beatles songs and the friendship seemed as solid as ever.
Paul McCartney and Ringo – Sgt. Pepper’s and Helter Skelter – Courtesy of Bfanbill
It was a night of classics ranging from “Love Me Do” released in the U.S. in 1964, to songs off McCartney’s recent Egypt Station solo album, the latter of which he said he was playing whether the crowd liked hearing new music or not.
There aren’t many times when almost all of the audience knows the words to almost every song, but that was certainly the case at the 60,000-capacity Dodger Stadium as McCartney as his band ripped through 38 tunes and even put on a fireworks show during the 007 movie song by Wings, “Live and Let Die.”
But despite the tremendous set list, McCartney found time to be jovial and tell some of the behind-the-scenes stories of favorite songs.
He recalled that heading over to the studio in 1962 to record “Love Me Do,” under the tutelage of George Martin, was a nerve-racking experience for him.
“It was quite intimidating … and we were showing George the song ‘Love Me Do,'” McCartney recalled. “And John used to sing the ‘Love Me Do’ line and he played harmonica … But George wanted the harmonica to come in on the one, John couldn’t do the two things at once. So George turned to me and said ‘Paul, Would you mind singing the ‘Love Me Do” line?’ Remember I’m nervous anyway, but I said ‘I’ll be OK.’ When I hear the record on the radio, even on the radio I can hear the little quiver of nervousness in my voice … But not tonight.”
Paul McCartney – Love Me Do
Macca had some fun with the audience. He asked the packed audience of almost 60,000 “Has anyone here ever tried to learn to play Blackbird on the guitar?” to which there was an overwhelming positive rumble. “Well none of you have it right!” to which there erupted laughter.
1966 Los Angeles Press Conference with The Beatles
McCartney simply *was* The Beatles. He joined John Lennon’s band The Quarrymen in the late 1950s and the band eventually evolved into the group that would forever change music. And pop culture. These four kids from Liverpool were different and drove the girls crazy. Their haircuts were different, they were called “Beatle haircuts,” the clothes were different, as they wore “Beatle Boots,” which every kid wanted back in the day. And as their career progressed, when a new Beatles album came out, people ran to the record store. There was a Saturday morning cartoon series and the movies, “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!”
The Beatles stopped touring in 1966 with their last show at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. So instead of getting to actually see the Beatles live, many bought the records and hoped that one day there would be a reunion. But that day never came.
When Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band came out in 1967, there were clues all over the place about Paul’s untimely and mysterious death. On the cover, all sorts of notables are gathered, but for what? One of the clues was that it was really supposed to be Paul’s funeral. Another clue was if you held the album upside down and looked at the yellow flower guitar, it really spells out C-O-W, which is the island of Cow where Paul’s spirit was supposed to have gone. There were other clues on other albums pointing to the sad news, including that Paul was the only barefoot Beatle crossing the street on that Abbey Road cover.
So it’s ironic that the one member of The Beatles, around whom the campaign “Paul is Dead” was based, is one of the two Beatles still touring the music. And bringing out Ringo to play on drums was something that really made the fans cheer. He celebrated his 79th birthday on July 7.
Considering that Paul, now an “almost-octogenarian” squeezed in just about three hours worth of hits, it would be expected there wouldn’t be a lot of time for chit chat, but with McCartney that is not the case.
The show is warm, intertwined with his homey recollections of those he loved and lost – like Lennon, George Harrison and George Martin.
He said Harrison had an extensive ukulele collection and he brought out one that Harrison had given him, and launched into a ukulele version of “Something,” which Harrison penned and The Beatles released in 1969 as a double-A sided single with “Come Together” and then on Abbey Road. It’s not a new trick up McCartney’s sleeve, but that doesn’t make the story and performance any less emotional.
Paul had his time at the keyboards also, with one of the most notable performances of The Beatles’ “Lady Madonna” and one of the Band On The Run songs, “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five.” Of course there were several Paul McCartney and Wings songs, many off that killer Band On The Run album, including the favorite title track. Check out the famous faces on the cover of Band On The Run here
The all-ages crowd delightedly sang along on most of the songs in the set list. There wasn’t an empty seat and on one or two songs the fans — men and women both — were moved to tears as for some, seeing McCartney was a “bucket list” item that could now be checked off.
But McCartney gave more than a great 3-hour concert on Saturday night. He assured the fans once and for all that there’s no need for those silly clues any more. Paul is very much alive.
A Hard Day’s Night
Can’t Buy Me Love
Got to Get You Into My Life
Come On to Me
Let Me Roll It
I’ve Got a Feeling
Let ‘Em In
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
Maybe I’m Amazed
I’ve Just Seen a Face
In Spite of All the Danger
From Me to You
Love Me Do
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
Carry That Weight
Paul McCartney – Live And Let Die – Courtesy of SegaMaggot