Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Sir Paul McCartney is Beatles royalty. He’s so frequently in the public eye – touring every few years, performing at 2006’s Super Bowl halftime show and enduring tabloid harassment following his failed marriage to Heather Mills – that it can’t help but detract from his mystique, making him seem almost like Everyman.
In concert, however, even at 67 years old, McCartney is more like Superman. Watching him perform 40 vocally demanding songs over nearly three hours Saturday night at a near-capacity Sun Life Stadium, one could only wonder: How does he do it?
On the third date of his oddly named “Up and Coming Tour,” McCartney, displaying the energy and vocal ability of a man decades younger, gave fans of the Fab Four and his later hits with the Wings a night to remember. With a superb backing band, he performed just about every song anyone would want to hear, from the obvious (“Hey Jude,” “Let It Be,” “Lady Madonna,” “The Long and Winding Road,” “Jet” and “Band on the Run”) to the delightfully surprising (“All My Loving,” “Got to Get You Into My Life,” “I’m Looking Through You,” “Two of Us,” “I’ve Got a Feeling” and, performed for the first time live in the U.S., a deliriously bouncy “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”).
And those songs weren’t even the night’s true highlights. Halfway through the show, Paul strapped on an acoustic guitar and performed a chills-inducing, solo version of “Blackbird,” followed by his loving 1982 tribute to slain Beatle John Lennon, “Here Today,” before which he said, “I wrote this next song for my dear friend John. Let’s hear it for John! Sometimes you don’t say all you mean to say to people, and then when they pass away, it’s too late.”
A few songs later, McCartney again appeared solo with his acoustic guitar to perform a tender rendition of “Eleanor Rigby,” flanked by the drummer and guitarist, who came up to sang flawless backups on the chorus, “Ahh, look at all the lonely people.” Simply lovely.
The tributes to his fallen loved ones weren’t limited to Lennon. Before his ballad “My Love,” Paul honored his wife Linda McCartney, who died of breast cancer in 1998: “I wrote this next song for Linda, and tonight this is dedicated to all the lovers in the audience.”
And McCartney brought out a ukulele – one of the many instruments he played on this night, including the usual bass and piano, plus electric and acoustic guitar and even mandolin – for his jaunty version of the George Harrison-penned Beatles staple “Something.”
“George was a great ukulele player – let’s hear it for George!”
Before “Paperback Writer,” which featured perfect five-part harmonies, McCartney pointed out for the guitar lovers in the crowd that he was playing “the original guitar I made the original record with in the ’60s” – a gold-and-brown sunburst, hollow-bodied Epiphone, for those who care about such details.
Other highlights included “A Day in the Life,” on which Paul’s reverb-soaked vocals did John proud, leading into an audience singalong of “Give Peace a Chance”; “Live and Let Die,” during which explosive bursts of fire and other jarring pyrotechnics jolted the crowd; an amped-up version of “Day Tripper”; and, fittingly, “The End,” from the iconic album “Abbey Road,” which ended the second encore and the evening, with the classic line, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
From the awestruck looks on fans’ faces as they headed home, it seems as if Sir Paul is way ahead of the game in that department.
Setlist from the show
Venus and Mars
All My Loving
Got To Get You Into My Life
Let Me Roll It
Foxy Lady (Jimi Hendrix Cover)
The Long and Winding Road
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
Let ‘Em In
I’m Looking Through You
Two Of Us
Something (George Harrison tribute)
Sing The Changes
Band On The Run
Back In The U.S.S.R.
I’ve Got A Feeling
A Day In The Life
Give Peace A Chance (John Lennon tribute)
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)