From Beatles to Wings to solo, long live Paul McCartney!
By Skip Sheffield – Photos by Jeff Daly
One Saturday, April 3 at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium, he held 60,000 people in the palm of his hand.
I’m still floating on Monday, April 5. It was a concert I will remember the rest of my life, witnessed from Row 1, seat 7, close enough to see every expression on every one of the musicians; close enough to feel the heat when the fireworks go off in “Live and Let Die.”
McCartney still has the same boyish charm at age 67 as he did when he was “the cute Beatle” back in the 1960s. Better yet, he has the energy and enthusiasm of a man half his age or younger.
McCartney is one musical legend who embraces his celebrity and his fans.
The fans pay back in kind with a good-vibe love-fest that begins before the first chord is ever struck.
In Miami that was “Venus and Mars” from the Wings collection, followed by “Jet” and “Band on the Run.”
McCartney doles out some 20 Beatles favorites joyfully, segueing into “All My Loving,” sung beautifully by a backup band that is as good as any live stage band I have ever heard.
For the record they are longtime keyboardist Paul “Wix” Wickham (who plays one mean guitar on “Helter Skelter” too) and beatific drummer Abe Laboriel, whom I recognize from Paul’s last appearance at BankAtlantic Center.
Looking like a smiling Buddha, Laboriel is so into the music he seems to be in upper levels of ecstasy. Oh, and he has an angelic high tenor voice too.
Both guitarists; brunette Rusty Anderson and blond Brian Ray, sing exquisite harmonies while dashing off immediately recognizable riffs it takes normal mortals years to master- if ever.
The show is a gearhead’s delight, as all players trade off instruments on just about every song. This show was much more rock ‘n roll and guitar-heavy than previous ones I’ve seen. In addition to McCartney’s old reliable Hofner bass, he played a cavalcade of left-handed guitars, from the same Epiphone Casino he played with the Beatles to a paisley-colored Gibson Les Paul.
McCartney plays piano too, of course, playing tribute to his beloved late wife Linda with “My Love,” dedicated to the lovers in the audience.
One of the most touching segments was a tribute to his fallen comrade John Lennon, with McCartney’s haunting ballad (If You Were) “Here Today.”
Later in the show McCartney took to the stage solo with a ukulele given to him by the late George Harrison, and played “Something” as his band mates picked up their instruments and joined in a rising chorus.
McCartney is generous in his anecdotal details about The Beatles, Wings and his solo career- as if he was everyone’s favorite buddy.
How can you not love this man, and not admire his musical contributions to the world? McCartney performed almost 40 songs in nearly three hours, scarcely breaking a sweat. He may yet to prove to be the oldest rock and rolling prophet the world has ever seen.
Long live Paul McCartney!
Photos by Jeff Daly