Paul McCartney show was worth the long wait
By Jeff Miers
October 23, 2015
A sold-out crowd at the First Niagara Center enjoyed Paul McCartney’s first concert in Buffalo, the final stop on his current tour. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)
It was a concert that was five decades in the making.
It was worth the wait.
Despite the 50-plus years that Paul McCartney has been one of the most revered figures in popular music, he had never played Buffalo until Thursday night, when he performed before an adoring crowd of more than 16,000 in First Niagara Center.
Waiting for their first opportunity gave his Western New York fans plenty of time to get fired up. And fired up they were, gobbling up every available ticket within minutes.
In the weeks leading to the show, during which McCartney’s “Out There” tour stopped nearby in Toronto, Detroit and Columbus, Ohio, one could feel the energy in town growing palpable, as the area of lower Washington Street was adorned with light pole banners featuring McCartney’s face and the words “Welcome to Buffalo Paul!” and social media exploded with the memories and excited expectations of devout area fans.
Paul McCartney performs at the last stop on his tour to a sold out crowd at First Niagara Center in Buffalo. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)
This didn’t just feel like another concert. This was a Beatle, after all. THE Beatle, in the minds of many fans, this writer included.
The “Out There” tour has, since it commenced in 2013, drawn liberally from every area of McCartney’s career – the Beatles, Wings, his solo works, and even some of his collaborative one-offs and film soundtrack pieces. Thursday’s show was no exception.
Sounding nothing like a 73-year-old man who just performed for three hours the night before, McCartney tore through some of the most recognizable songs from his vast catalog.
In between songs, Paul McCartney takes note of some of the signs fans are holding. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)
It was a multimedia show with a continuous stream of videos playing behind him, from montages of famous women for “Lady Madonna” to his own home movies made by his late wife, Linda, for “Maybe I’m Amazed.”
McCartney has been playing with his current band – drummer/vocalist Abe Laboriel Jr., guitarist/vocalist Rusty Anderson, guitarist/bassist/vocalist Brian Ray and keyboardist/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Wix Wickens – for longer than he played with any other ensembles, including both the Beatles and Wings.
It shows in the incredibly tight interplay the musicians revel in, and in the unflagging sense of fun that permeates the whole affair whenever McCartney takes the stage.
Paul McCartney performs at the last stop on his tour to a sold out crowd at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)
All are top-flight musicians, superior harmony singers, excellent showmen and, quite obviously, the right guys to be backing the greatest bassist and songwriter in rock history. (Calling McCartney the “best” bassist might be slightly off the mark – there are more virtuosic players, yes, but let’s face it, the guy invented rock bass playing.)
McCartney switched from bass to guitar to piano and back again as he played songs that spanned his years with the Beatles, Wings and as a solo artist.
The Beatles songs he chose ran the gamut from the early days of Beatlemania (“And I Love Her,” “Eight Days a Week”) through to the 1970s (“The Long and Winding Road”).
Paul McCartney walks on stage and waves to the audience. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)
“I wrote this after my dear friend John passed away,” McCartney said before playing “Here Today,” a song he called an imaginary conversation he and John Lennon never got to have.
Song after song after song McCartney played are part of the fabric of our lives. There was no bad song.
The reaction of the audience was astounding. People wiped their eyes and clutched their chests as much as they clapped and sang along.
Paul McCartney in concert at FNC
Friday, October 23, 2015
Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News
Paul McCartney performs to a sold-out crowd at First Niagara Center in Buffalo on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015.
Paul McCartney walks out on stage and waves to the audience at the beginning of the concert.
In between songs, Paul McCartney takes note of some of the signs fans are holding.
Dreams come true for Paul McCartney fans
Dreams come true as fans revel in watching the legendary Paul McCartney
By Joseph Popiolkowski
News Staff Reporter
October 22, 2015
Paul McCartney fans arrive before the doors at First Niagara Center open before the concert, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. Rita Juliano, of Buffalo, shows off her ticket which she received just today from her son who wanted to surprise her. Both are going to the concert. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)
It took a half-century, but Debbie Hagen’s dream finally came true Thursday night.
She was going to see Paul McCartney perform his music in concert.
Hagen, 62, of Lockport was 13 in August 1965 when the Beatles performed in Toronto. She had begged her parents to take her, but they didn’t like the Beatles’ music, or their long hair.
“I remember sitting in the car with my little transistor radio with my little old-school ear thing, listening to all the preconcert stuff going on just crying my eyes out,” she said.
Hagen was crying again Thursday night, just before entering First Niagara Center with her husband, Jack, for McCartney’s sold-out show, his first appearance in Buffalo. But these were tears of joy.
“I can’t believe it,” she said softly.
“She’s crying already,” replied her smiling husband.
McCartney’s more than five decades of music, beginning with the Beatles, has played a big role in her life, especially as a youngster at home.
“They helped me through a lot of rough times in my life growing up with domestic violence,” she said. “They didn’t call it that then. That kind of music got me through the rough times and it helped me through the good times, so what more could you ask for?”
“Silly Love Songs” was stuck in her head for 20 hours when she was in labor with her first son. “So now whenever I hear that, I think I’m a new mom with my baby,” she said.
And her second son picked the Beatles’ classic “In My Life” for their mother-son dance at his wedding.
She was beginning to think she’d have to travel to Toronto or Pittsburgh for a chance at finally seeing McCartney, one of two Beatles still living. The couple saw Ringo Starr at Artpark last year. So she jumped at the chance for tickets when McCartney’s show was announced in August.
“The fact that it’s right here in Buffalo, it’s like, ‘Forget it. We’re getting the best seats,’ ” she said.
Their seats were in Section 116. Hagen said she had no expectations.
“I hope he comes up and gives me a hug,” she said. “That’s what I want. Any song will do. Anything, anything, anything.”
Many other McCartney first-timers had similar stories about near-miss opportunities to see the legend in person.
Carl Camardo, 44, of East Amherst, had a ticket to see McCartney in Toronto in 1993, but he was called in to work at what was then Pilot Field.
“They needed my help so I gave up my ticket and thought I’ll see him the next year or the year after, but never got a chance until today,” he said.
After 22 years, he said, “It’s finally coming off the bucket list.” Camardo said he hoped to hear “the classics” but mostly he was impressed McCartney is still on the road touring at 73.
“I’m still in awe that the guy is that age and here he is doing a full tour and still doing it after all these years,” he said. “That’s what I’m expecting to see – what I’m in awe of – is to see him put on this show.”
He was also impressed by the concertgoers’ wide range of ages. “You see the different ages here,” he said. “People like good music no matter when they grew up.”
That younger generation included Millie Topper, 13, of East Amherst, who was brought to the concert by her parents, Jon and Jessica.
“We introduced our daughter to the Beatles pretty much from the minute she was born and she’s been a fan ever since,” said Jon, who also manages Buffalo band moe.
Although right-handed, Millie is teaching herself to play guitar left-handed, like Paul. “He’s an inspiration,” said Jessica.
Millie was asked what song she most wanted to hear and said “Live and Let Die,” the theme song from the 1973 James Bond film.
Her father was asked the same question and said, “I want her to hear ‘Live and Let Die,’ if that’s what she wants to hear.”
Mike Worden of the Town of Tonawanda and his mother, Carolyn, were first in line at First Niagara Center before doors opened for their first McCartney show. He was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the Beatles logo and the Union Jack.
Worden said he would like to hear the Wings’ classic “Band on the Run.”
But, no doubt like many grown men in the arena Thursday night, he was mainly hoping “not to make a complete fool out of myself jumping up and down like some teenage girl screaming for a boy band. I’m trying to be strong.”
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