Published Jul 07, 2019Paul McCartney could say anything to greet his fans, and they would eat it up. But on Saturday night (July 6) at BC Place Stadium, he skipped pleasantries and went straight into early Beatles classic "A Hard Day's Night." That spiked fans' excitement from the get-go, but they cooled off during songs from his latest album, 2018's Egypt Station. Even Wings songs were better received than "Who Cares," "Come on to Me" and "Fuh You."
To be fair, though, Wings songs like "Junior's Farm," "Letting Go" and "Let 'Em In" were among the night's most rocking. And shaker-and-piano thumper "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five" was the best of all the Wings songs he played — that includes "Let Me Roll It," which featured an instrumental passage from Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady."
Seeing Paul McCartney is always a trip down memory lane, and not only because of the music. He reminisced about attending a show where Hendrix opened with an acid-washed cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" two days after the Beatles released their album of the same name. McCartney also took fans back to pre-Beatles days with straight-up country & western number "In Spite of All the Danger" by the Quarrymen, a group that once featured himself, John Lennon and George Harrison.
Of course, McCartney reminisced about Lennon, specifically. But as with most of his stories last night, he prefaced "Here Today" with well-known trivia: he wrote the song as a conversation he never got to have with John; "Here Today" was basically an "I love you, man," something McCartney said that two men who grew up in Liverpool during the 1940s and '50s could not say.
Despite being 77 years old, McCartney showed no signs of exhaustion as he performed for three hours. His massive set list of nearly 40 songs contained pretty much everything his fans could have wanted to hear.
"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!," "Band on the Run," "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," and "Let It Be" all made the cut. "Back in the U.S.S.R." was perfect for a stadium setting. The sing-along during "Hey Jude" felt endless. His solo acoustic performance of "Blackbird" was one of the night's most tender moments. The strings came alive on "Eleanor Rigby" — in the form of keys.
Stamina and fun but well-tread stories aside, sound issues sometimes distracted from the performance. Whether the band were playing or McCartney was just chatting, their music and words echoed from the back of the 50,000+ capacity stadium. The delay of the bounce meant the band sometimes sounded as if they were playing and talking over themselves.
But sound distortion became a moot point during "Live and Let Die." It was as if McCartney saved all his pyro for this single song near the end of his set. A gratuitous amount of fireworks, sparks, flames and lasers exploded in an endless, uncoordinated stream as keyboard-generated strings swarmed to climax; the spectacle was both amazing and comical.
McCartney's encore alone lasted six songs. Those who stuck it out were delighted by "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Helter Skelter," but others began trickling out during the shamelessly and overly indulgent string of "Golden Slumber," "Carry That Weight" and "The End."
McCartney's made a life of singing about peace and love, and has inspired every generation thereafter to do the same. But his three-hour endurance test proved that there was one love he underestimated all these decades — the love of beating traffic and crawling into bed.