The feeling of anticipation was in the air. As I make my way to the entrance of the venue, I see several different lines of people eager to make their way inside of the theater and get in to their seats. As I find a spot to settle with my camera in hand, a nice lady seating nearby asks; “are you part of Paul’s crew?” She is beaming with excitement offering that she had travelled from out of town and even though she paid a lot for her ticket, this was a very special moment for her; looking at her watch, she says: “I have been counting the minutes!”
There was a high-energy vibe inside of the theater with fans talking to one another as if they all knew each other from somewhere else. As the lights went down, sir Paul McCartney entered the stage showing great form. He opened the show with “Cant’ Buy me Love” and then it was off to the races.
The bulk of his set was comprised of Beatles songs and a few from Wings with a good mix of up-beat tunes and melancholic hits. He is very aware that the audience is expecting pop hits from the Beatles era; “When we play a Beatles song, the place lights up like a galaxy with all the phones up in the air. When we play a new song it’s like a black hole.” But as everyone there knew, when you are in a presence of a music legend, you just feel lucky to be part of the audience.
While introducing “ My Valentine”, Paul mentioned that his wife Nancy was in the audience; “This one is for you Nance”..he says with a loving tone.
It’s easy to see that Paul truly enjoys connecting with the audience by sharing old tales of “The Fab Four” from the early days. He shared a funny bit on how one of the most popular music groups in the world managed to make their first demo record… “I will take you back to a little port in the Northern England…a port called Liverpool, where these 4 boys met up …and formed a band and did okay for themselves!” … of course the crowd is totally into it.. who would not be?? “It was 5 pounds to make the record and it was five of us in the group at that time. It was me, George, John, Colin on drums and a guy called Duff on piano”. After sharing a few more details about this demo record he says: “The deal was, that we keep it for a week, each. So I kept it for a week, gave it to George who kept it for a week, who gave it John who kept it for a week, then gave it to Collin who kept it for a week, and Collin gave to Duff who kept it for 20 years! Yea, and then he sold it back to us…. at quite a considerable profit.” He then performed the song from the mentioned record: “In Spite of All the Danger”.
Throughout the night, Paul dedicated a few songs. To George he dedicated “something” with a solo ukulele performance . To John he dedicated “ Here Today” sharing that it was a form of a love letter to his dear friend.
Giant digital displays and special visual effects gave each song a unique experience which included a beautiful elevated platform raised up high, illuminated with images of bright blue skies and a flying bird for the performance of “Blackbird”, a black and white video of Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp for the performance of “My Valentine”, photo-album videos during “Maybe I’m Amazed” and a dramatic pyrotechnic display at the back and front edge of the stage during “Live and Let Die”, which took many by surprise.
A new visual and quite special moment was a strategic isolated video of John Lennon singing “I’ve Got a Feeling” which gave the illusion of a duet performance between John and Paul. For a short moment I thought to myself, how cool would it be if Ringo was hiding behind stage and joined in?
As expected, the performance of “Hey Jude” brought everyone to their feet with a massive and beautiful sing-along. I don’t think anyone was contemplating the fact that Paul is about to turn 80. He shows no sign of slowing down with a performance that exceeded expectations.