August 02, 2009

McCartney Mania!

On August 1, 2009, I was fortunate enough to see Paul McCartney up close (well, not that close) at FedEx Field in Landover, MD last night. What a fabulous Washington area show! This was only my second time(*) seeing Sir Paul, the first being in Oct. 2005. [Thanks to Donna W. and Bob M. respectively.]

The show kicked off soon after dark with a hard rockin' version of Drive My Car, the first of 22 Beatles songs. Naturally the 2.5 hour show included a small sampling of Wings tunes (Jet, Let Me Roll It, My Love, Mrs Vanderbilt [ho, hey ho], Band on the Run). There were a bunch post Wings performances (Only Mama Knows, Flaming Pie, Highway, Here Today, Dance Tonight, Calico Skies, Sing the Changes). Highway and Sing the Changes are from the recent Electric Arguments album by the The Firemen. With the exception of Dance Tonight and Here Today, this period is not the highpoint of Paul's career, IMHO. [Not everyone would agree with this statement, right, Frank M?]

Relatively early in the evening, Paul added a fan favorite not played in NYC, dedicated to our First Lady, Michelle. (Hey, Paul, ya gotta work on the pronunciation of "Barack" or he won't invite you to the White House.) This was soon followed by a dedication of Here Today to John about whom the song was written (from the Tug of War album from 1982). Later in the set, he dedicated Something to George, playing a ukulele that Harrison had given him.

When Paul introduced Blackbird, a solo from The Beatles (The White Album), he said it was written in response to the 1960s Civil Rights movement, a total surprise to yours truly. Turns out this is connected to Paul's book of poetry (song lyrics) called Blackbird Singing from 2002.

Both Frank M. and John T. noticed a bit of Jimi Hendrix, which turned out to be Foxey Lady, added as an instrumental portion to Let Me Roll It. Seems like they do this often judging for past set lists.

Another highpoint of the evening was the auditory and visual spectacular of fireworks during the #2 single Live and Let Die. While this is certainly nothing new to Paul's gigs, it is definitely impressive live, especially when you are relatively close to the stage. The sounds of exploding pyrotechnics and the acrid smell of smoke were quite powerful.

Understandably for someone who has a whopping 22 solo/Wings studio albums (plus a half dozen live albums and a number of other projects), there were lots of albums from which no songs at all were performed. Hard to believe though that there was nothing from the first McCartney album, my second favorite only to Band on the Run.

Maybe it is my personal bias, but as excited as people were about Paul's Wings and solo material, the loudest reaction seemed to be from Beatles tunes which constituted nearly 2/3 of the show. There were two high energy encores comprised entirely of Beatles songs (EC 1: Day Tripper, Lady Madonna, I Saw Her Standing There; EC 2: Yesterday (solo), Helter Skelter, Get Back, Sgt. Pepper's LHCB (repise), and The End). In fact, if you count the encores, the entire second half of the set list (songs 19 to 35) was nothing but Beatles classics! Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Check out the complete Washington set list is available with lyrics and videos (various sources) for every one of the 35 songs. YouTube has a bunch of videos of varying quality from the FedEx show.

PS - The photo is from 2004 in Prague. Free to use according to Wikipedia.

And now for something completely different: Left 4 Dead - The Beatles. And you thought The Beatles Rock Band was going to be the best Beatles videogame?

(*) Never mind that I've seen 1964 The Tribute (Beatles tribute band) 10 times!

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