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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 26, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 30
Just call him 'Sir' - Paul McCartney delivers an epic Seattle concert
Arts & Entertainment
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Just call him 'Sir' - Paul McCartney delivers an epic Seattle concert

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Two hours and forty-five minutes. Thirty-nine songs. Fireworks. Confetti. And a surprise Nirvana reunion on top of it all. Paul McCartney didn't just give Seattle fans an awesome show, he delivered a performance they'll be taking to their graves.

McCartney arrived on stage in black pants, white dress shirt, and navy-blue long blazer, and immediately went to work. There was no video montage or hoopla surrounding his initial appearance - he just waved to the crowd and dove into the first number, 'Eight Days a Week,' one of many classic Beatles songs. He quickly followed with 'Junior's Farm,' a rock gem from his Wings days. He then went back to the Beatles era for 'All My Loving.'

Impressively, the legendary musician was supported only by a handful of band members and no backup singers. McCartney switched guitars on almost every song, including a vintage piece that was used in the original recording of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but he also played the piano on slower material, such as the ballad 'My Valentine,' written for current spouse Nancy while on vacation.

JIMI HENDRIX TRIBUTE
'This is for all the Wings fans,' said the knighted Brit, who then performed a country-fried version of 'Listen to What the Man Said,' infused with a bit of bluegrass. Afterwards, McCartney removed his blazer and joked, 'This is my only wardrobe change.' At the end of 'Let Me Roll It,' he attached an extended guitar solo as a tribute to Seattle native Jimi Hendrix, and then shared the story with the audience about meeting the master guitarist in London in the 1960s.

A gorgeous rendition of 'Maybe I'm Amazed,' which the icon reminded us was penned for his then-wife Linda, found him tapping gently on a piano that was slightly perched from the stage level. Many concertgoers on the field danced jubilantly to several upbeat numbers, such as 'We Can Work It Out' and 'Lady Madonna.' But there were also calmer moments during the show, like a romantic run-through of 'And I Love Her' and an acoustic version of 'Blackbird' that saw McCartney rise about 20 feet on an elevated platform with a backdrop of an illuminated moon.

SET LIST SURPRISES
McCartney carefully constructed the set list to include a few songs that had never been performed in Seattle - not by the Beatles, nor Wings, nor solo. Among these was 'Another Day' and a very fun rendition of 'All Together Now,' one of the quirkiest Fab Four tunes off their Yellow Submarine album. It was also the live world premiere of 'Sometimes,' written by George Harrison, that began with McCartney strumming a ukulele.

A huge singalong erupted for 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da' as a camera roamed the field and caught fans mouthing the lyrics. 'Band on the Run' was nostalgic, sounding as remarkable as when it was released 40 years ago. While McCartney performed 'Back in the U.S.S.R.,' images of famous Russian figures flashed behind him on a billboard-sized LED screen, and amid these random pics were the words 'Free Pussy Riot.' Virtually lit lanterns floated on the screens, the one inside the stage and two tall, vertical ones positioned on either side of the stage, as McCartney and his band played an anthemic version of 'Let It Be.'

And then came the fireworks. It started with firebombs dramatically going off in the first chorus of 'Live and Let Die' and continued with a colorful display of explosives. It was an amazing sight to behold, all the while the Bond theme song was blaring beautifully throughout the filled-to-capacity baseball stadium. The main set concluded with a rousing performance of 'Hey Jude,' with McCartney offering both genders the opportunity to outshine each other on the harmonious chorus.

GROHL, NOVOSELIC REUNITE
The first of two encores opened with 'Daytripper' and then ushered out a huge surprise for the 45,000-plus people in attendance: The surviving members of Nirvana, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, along with former Nirvana touring guitarist Pat Smear, joined Sir Paul for a dizzying jam session, highlighted by 'Cut Me Some Slack,' a track birthed from this collaboration. Everybody stayed on stage for a thrilling run-through of 'Get Back.'

But it wasn't over yet. The second encore was even more stacked with a shimmering delivery of 'Yesterday' as those in the stands waved their lighted cell phones, and an all-hands-on-deck performance of four Beatles songs - 'Helter Skelter,' 'Golden Slumbers,' 'Carry That Weight,' and 'The End' - closed it out. The concert climaxed with additional fireworks shooting up into the darkened sky.

Despite poor organization by Safeco Field management, where ticketholders on the field were required to stand in ridiculously long lines to get wristbands, the show was simply astounding. McCartney at the ripe age of 71 is still an impeccable live act. He not only possesses great vocals after so many years of recording and performing, but he's also incredibly charming and knows his way around a crowd. Most spectacular was the set list, a whopping 39 songs and barely a break between them - in fact, I never saw McCartney take a sip of water in nearly three hours.

Paul McCartney is the cream of the crop, and for those who witnessed him in person last weekend in Seattle, they may have just seen the best show of their lives.

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