I had been told in my lifetime that there are certain bands that you need to see once even if you’re not a fan. That list includes The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, U2 and The Cramps. The royalty I was exposed to Saturday night surpasses any “should see at least once” that was ever mentioned to me. This is a requirement for life. This is a mandatory experience if you live on the planet earth. There is the Queen of England type of royalty and then there is rock & roll royalty, who is unlike any other songwriter/performer of our time. There is one and only one of that stature. Only one who has that body of work. Only one who can still come out for two hours and forty minutes without a break.
Ladies and gentleman... Sir Paul McCartney
After a wonderful 10 minute film on the big screen taking us through Paul’s entire career (one wonders how this dude remains grounded when people have been screaming and hollering at him everywhere he goes since he was 20), the curtain came down and next thing I knew, “Magical Mystery Tour” is being played for real. Not on my turntable, not in my car or iPod, but in fucking person for the first time ever. I had chills for the entire song.
How do you choose a set list from his body of work? I can’t imagine, but I was informed that many of the tunes he played Saturday night were done for the first time ever live. One of those might have been the tune Paul wrote with the Quarrymen; (pre Beatles) called "I'll Get You," a rarity from 1963 probably most recognized with the repetitive "oh yeahs" OR how about “'Til there was You” off of Meet the Beatles. You know, “There were bells, on the hill….but I never heard them ringing.” People of all ages were flipping.
The second song of the set was “Flaming Pie”, the title tune of Paul’s solo album of the same name from 1997 which is about an image John had once told him about. Third song - “Jet” – the Wings' tune from the Band On The Run LP. OK, so you can imagine hearing those three tunes back to back – I needed air. His vocals sounded great.
The band this year you might recognize from the Superbowl performance - guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray, the keyboardist Paul Wickens and the biggest, baddest monster of a man drummer Abe Laboriel. Guy was pounding and head bobbing hard enough to melt the NY Ranger garden ice that was underneath the floor seats. And he is a carbon copy of the drummer Paul brought out for the Wing’s tours in '76, Joe English.
Paul bounced around from bass guitar to electric to acoustic and then... a piano would rise out of the middle of the stage for him to play frequently. What a touch. There were images on a big screen behind him, the lights on the stage and in the stage. The ever changing lights above were magical. He asked us all to remember the departed – specifically, John, George and Linda which drew reaction. He dedicated a new tune to his current wife Heather called “Follow Me.”
I will list the set at the end – but come on, he dropped “Fixing a Hole” from Sgt. Pepper, “I’ll Follow the Sun” from Beatles For Sale, “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” from Abbey Road and “For No One” off Revolver. Or how about the story about one of the space shuttle crews that were kept in orbit for an extra day because of bad weather here on earth. NASA called them, or woke them one morning to tell them that it was all clear for their return and played a Beatles song to wake them up. Paul told this story, played the NASA audio clip and then launched into the song “Good Day Sunshine”.
Guy never took a break. Switching guitars and bass, on and off the piano, waving at everyone and giving us the thumbs up and peace sign.
During the last tune of the set, the pyro rivaled that of a KISS show. When they did “Live And Let Die” (did Guns N Roses really cover that – pass the vomit bag), there were flames coming from behind the stage shooting up by the curtains and exploding red and green flame pots on the sides. It was magical.
The band shortly came back for the three song encore which proved to be a miracle.
“Yesterday” which Paul played on the same acoustic guitar that he used on The Ed Sullivan show (please re-read this line). Then, “Get Back” and finally, the massive “Helter Skelter”.
No one knew what to expect walking into the joint – and leaving, no one knew what hit them. It was a bomb of genius. Royalty that is simply indescribable. A songwriting, performing giant that at 63 is still on such a level by himself that you search for your saliva because you are so stunned while leaving the building at the end.
And if that isn’t enough, go get his NEW record, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, for yet another collection of beautiful songs, some of which were in the set - “Jenny Wren” very much related to “Blackbird” as well as the comforting “English Tea”.
In addition to Paul’s presence on stage, he and Heather also made their mark in the corridors of the Garden. Walking around, you could find any number of information about P.E.T.A., as well as how to become vegan with your “Free Vegetarian Starter Kit” information available.
He’s at the Garden two more nights then off and running, continuing the tour through November. Buy a seat and sit on the roof if you have to.
SET LIST 10/1/05
"Magical Mystery Tour"
"I’ll Get You"
"Drive My Car"
"Til There Was You"
"Let Me Roll It"
"Got to Get You into My Life"
"Maybe I’m Amazed"
"The Long and Winding Road"
"In Spite of All the Danger"
"For No One"
"Fixing a Hole"
"I’ll Follow the Sun"
"Too Many People"
"She Came In Through The Bathroom Window"
"Good Day Sunshine"
"Band On The Run"
"I’ve Got a Feelin’"
"Back in the USSR"
"Live and Let Die"