Monday, August 1, 2011

Review: Paul McCartney at Wrigley Field, Chicago, July 31, 2011

No matter that the temperature was in the nineties and that once the stadium was full the heat index cracked 100; and no matter that the usual lakefront breeze was noticeably lacking but would have been welcome on this sweltering July afternoon; no matter all of that because seeing the legendary Paul McCartney put on a great rock and roll show took precedence over all other concerns.
The heat be damned – we came in throngs from all over Illinois. McCartney’s show lasted three hours but once he started singing the heat was no longer a factor. This was music history in the making, from perhaps the finest songwriter of our generation in a career that continues to touch the lives of millions. McCartney and his band have practiced long and hard, and although I haven’t “fact checked” this yet I believe he has now played longer with Paul “Wix” Wickens and Abe Laboriel than any other band-mates.
 (McCartney photos by Jan McNulty)

Paul McCartney and his band (including Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray) not only know the material, they appear to love the material. With songs pulled from McCartney’s impressive career, the Wrigleyville neighborhood was suddenly under siege by one of the finest pure adrenalin-laced and passionate rock and roll shows I have ever seen.
Beatles, Wings, and ample solo material was all covered by McCartney who looked and sounded healthy and happy. Some stand-out moments:
- although it was probably rehearsed, the short but explosive “Foxy Lady” instrumental followed by McCartney’s anecdote about Jimi Hendrix.
- a superb cover of “Paperback Writer” with pulp paperback covers flashing on the digital screen behind the band.
- A heartfelt acoustic version of “I Will.”
- The emotional tribute to John Lennon - “Here Today” – which was especially poignant given McCartney’s statement to the audience that we should all keep in mind the importance of saying something nice to those we love. Usually “Yesterday” is the song that hushes the crowd, but this time it was “Here Today.”
- Blistering hard-rock renditions of “Jet,” “Let Me Roll It,” “Band on the Run,” “Back in the USSR,” “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “Helter Skelter.”
- The pre-concert sound-check which lasted an hour and all of us mingling outside the ballpark could hear. The sound check included renditions of “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Ebony and Ivory” which he did not sing during the show. They both sounded great.
- The fan who ran up the aisles holding a sign that said” “Paul McCartney – More Hits Than the Cubs.”
- McCartney acknowledging the signs the fans held up, especially one that said “I’m a Priest! I’d Love to Do Your Wedding!”
- The rendition of George Harrison’s “Something” which began with McCartney playing solo on the ukulele but halfway through switched to the full band and sounding remarkably like a damn good live electric version that Harrison himself might have delivered had he lived longer. I thought the ukulele solo version I saw him sing in 2002 was special, but this version was stunning.
With special thanks to my friends at The Drive, 97.1 FM Radio for the two complimentary tickets.  Visit the DRIVE HERE!

Paul McCartney Set list, Wrigley Field, Chicago, July 31, 2011

Hello Goodbye
Junior’s Farm
All My Loving
Drive My Car
Sing the Changes
The Night Before
Let Me Roll It
Foxy Lady (Instrumental jam tribute to Jimi Hendrix)
Paperback Writer
Long and
Winding Road
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
Let ‘Em In
Maybe I’m Amazed
I’ve Just Seen A Face
I Will
Here Today
Dance Tonight
Mrs. Vanderbilt
Eleanor Rigby
Band on the Run
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Back in the USSR
I’ve Got a Feeling
A Day in the Life – Give Peace A Chance
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Hey Jude

First Encore

Lady Madonna
Day Tripper
Get Back

Second Encore

Helter Skelter
Golden Slumbers/Carry that Weight/The End

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