Paul McCartney performs at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., Wednesday, May 29, 2013.
GARETT FISBECK/Tulsa World
Rock icon Paul McCartney pulls out all the stops
By JENNIFER CHANCELLOR
World Scene Writer
May 30, 2013
Paul McCartney's "Out There" tour stopped at Tulsa's BOK Center on Wednesday for the first of a two-night stint celebrating the arena's fifth birthday.
He gave his fans what they came for, with a set including nearly three dozen hits over 2 1/2 hours.
Fans shot to their feet, clapping and cheering, as McCartney blasted into "Eight Days a Week."
Grown women cried. Their husbands held them tight as McCartney let loose the soundtrack of rock 'n' roll history.
"Hey, Tulsa, Oklahoma! I have a feeling we're going to have a little bit of fun here tonight!" the former Beatle yelled.
Video of the Fab Four - McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr - looped behind him on huge screens as he bopped through "All My Loving."
An elaborate, high-definition, synchronized light show and live video amplified McCartney to fit his larger-than-life stature. He hit Wings, the funky "Listen to What the Man Said," and rock-riffy "Let Me Roll It," his four-piece supporting band in harmony.
His voice strong, his stature strait-backed, the affable British Invasion pioneer thanked the crowd for the warm welcome, then thanked them for "having me back."
He told of his love for historic Route 66 and his travels through Oklahoma in an old '80s Bronco with his wife, Nancy, hitting the dives and the "posh spots" along the way.
McCartney also noted the wide span of ages in the audience, from "people my age to their children and their children's children."
New and old melded, time forgotten, with songs including "My Valentine," "The Long and Winding Road," "Maybe I'm Amazed," "We Can Work it Out" and several songs at his grand piano, such as "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five" and "Another Day."
"Paperback Writer" was rowdier, louder and tighter than any version I've ever heard - McCartney in his element, beaming, his guitarists swinging their instruments in front of oversize amps for distortion, the crowd ecstatic. "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" pinwheeled with happiness, the crowd pogo-dancing and singing the chorus without any lead from McCartney.
Much of this production is unlike his previous tours. It has bigger, deeper tracks and brilliant, often psychedelic video imagery that spans his career.
The set grew and grew, including "Lady Madonna," "All Together Now," "Lovely Rita" (the first time he's played the song in Oklahoma, he said), "Mrs. Vanderbilt," "Eleanor Rigby," "Back in the U.S.S.R.," "Live and Let Die," "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" "Band on the Run" and "And I Love Her." On it went.
He played his soul-etching lament of American civil rights struggles in the 1960s, "Blackbird," just him and a guitar. A woman handed a packet of tissues down an aisle, eyes moist. Down the aisle it went until it was nearly empty.
There were tributes to Beatles who have passed, John and George, with "Here Today," written about his love for the band's famed co-writer John Lennon, and "Something," written by George Harrison and often named by McCartney as one of the best songs Harrison ever wrote.
And with another concert - one to raise funds for tornado relief in central Oklahoma - happening at the same time down the turnpike in Oklahoma City, McCartney gave a nod to those who were affected.
"We would like to dedicate this song to those here who have suffered through the recent tragedy in Oklahoma," he said as he took to his piano for the emotive "Let it Be" amid a standing ovation.
The fans: Fans from near and far, young and old, filled the BOK Center for the show.
Adrian Caliman, 35, of Argentina flew in Monday to catch both of McCartney's Tulsa concerts. He's seen the iconic musician before - in Las Vegas, Miami and Madrid.
"This was like my birthday present to myself," he said, as No. 36 is coming up fast in July.
McCartney's music legacy spans more than five decades and as many generations, from The Beatles to Wings to a long solo career, and fans of all ages came to experience it.
Outside early and waiting with their grandparents, Marley Sims, 4, and Riley Sims, 9, sat with Steve and Darlene Sims of Sand Springs, who are 64 and 61 respectively.
"Riley was mad when we saw Paul in 2009 and we didn't take him," Steve Sims said.
His wife chimed in: "He knows every lyric to every Beatles song. He has for years. We promised we'd take him with us if Paul ever came back. Here we are."
Added Steve Sims, "Marley wasn't around the first time he was here, but she wanted to come with her brother."
Teenage friends Ryan Sparks and Haley Jackson, both 16 and from Oklahoma City, were brought to the show by their parents, but "they just dropped us off," Sparks said.
And the rain and storms that had been forecast? "Nothing was going to stop us," Jackson said. "We just left earlier."
Sparks' father introduced him to the music of The Beatles.
"But Ryan took it to something completely new," Jackson said. "He's taught me so much more about The Beatles and Paul McCartney. I had to go to this show. He's such a legend!"
Sparks added: "After tonight, I can die. It doesn't get better than Paul McCartney!"
Minnie Dombrovski, 9, and her father, Daniel Dombrovski, 38, of Claremore came to the show because, as Minnie said, "I've been a fan of him ... forever!"
Her ticket was an end-of-school-year gift, said Daniel Dombrovski, who boasts ownership of the complete Beatles anthology.
"She listens to the Beatles all the time," he said. "She's hip to Wings. ... She knows it all."
When asked if Minnie listens to classic rock 'n' roll with her father, she said, "No. In my room."
Dad added with a grin: "Over and over and over."
"Did you know that Ringo had the biggest nose in the entire world?" she asked matter-of-factly.
Minnie pulled straight her T-shirt, screen printed with the Beatles logo.
The only other live band concert she's seen is 1964, the official Beatles tribute band.
She's hard-core, and she was here to hear McCartney's Wings tune "Band on the Run." And she did.