sábado, 16 de abril de 2016

ONE ON ONE : April 15 2016 - Portland, OR - Moda Center

Paul McCartney Takes Portland on a Guided Tour of His Career at Moda Center
By Matthew Singer
April 16 2016

Paul McCartney performs at Moda Center on April 15. IMAGE: Emily Joan Greene.

There are legacy acts, and then there's Paul McCartney, an artist whose legacy is the sedimentary layer atop which all modern pop is built. At this point, his most well-known songs—many of which appeared in his career-spanning set at Moda Center last night—are as fundamental as nursery rhymes. How do you critique a performance of "Love Me Do," which is basically "The Wheels On the Bus" of rock'n'roll, or "Birthday," whose lead riff should eventually join "Happy Birthday" in the public domain? No songwriter is infallible, or beyond light ribbing—though the guy who direct-messaged violent threats to me on Twitter for basically poking fun at McCartney's signature bass guitar might argue otherwise—but some things are just undeniable.

Of course, the thing with songs we know at a near instinctual level is that, after a while, we know them almost too well. A lot has been made of McCartney opening this tour with "A Hard Day's Night," which he's never played outside the Beatles before, but every rock fan is born with that song somewhere inside them; that chiming opening chord is the slap from the doctor that welcomed us to the world. Maybe he hasn't played it for 50 years, but it's been running on a loop in the background of popular consciousness like an app that never got closed out. Hearing that famous chord ring through the Moda Center, the effect was of pleasant recognition more than a rush of history. Is it possible to feel anything other than warm familiarity for music that comes practically preloaded onto our collective psyche?

Then again, "warm familiarity," to a great degree, is what everyone comes to a Paul McCartney show to experience, and Sir Paul is nothing if not a "give the people what they want" type. In Portland, he presided over his three hour set like a museum docent guiding the crowd through an exhibit on his own life: telling stories, sharing old photos and videos, and playing just about every hit he has.

When I say the show was "career spanning," I mean it went pole-to-pole—from "In Spite of All the Danger," one of the first songs he, John Lennon and George Harrison ever recorded together, as the Quarrymen, to "FourFiveSeconds," last year's collaboration with Rihanna and Kanye West. It was dominated by the Beatles, of course, with a smattering of Wings, three tunes from 2013's New and, weirdly, 1980's "Temporary Secretary," his admirable but mostly failed attempt at writing a Kraftwerk song. McCartney—still boyishly exuberant at age 73—punctuated each performance by waving his arms triumphantly above his head or pumping his fist like Michael Jordan after draining a jumper, as archival footage, from Beatlemania and the Band on the Run years, projected onto screens around and behind him. In between, he recalled early recording sessions with George Martin and the time Jimi Hendrix covered "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" days after its release, and when he played Moscow's Red Square, becoming the first rock act to ever do so. It was humblebragging of the most entertaining order.

But as much as the night was unabashedly nostalgic, McCartney and four-piece band never sounded like wax statues miming through the standards. The early Beatles tunes, including "A Hard Day's Night" and "Can't Buy Me Love," jangled with garage-rock vigor. "Let Me Roll It," for which McCartney strapped on a splatter-art guitar and jammed through a coda of "Foxy Lady," smoked with blues-bar authenticity. The emotional high points came in tribute to McCartney's old bandmates: "Here Today," written in the wake of Lennon's murder, about "a conversation we never got to have," performed solo on a platform above the crowd; a rendition of Harrison's "Something" that began on solo ukulele—one of its author's favorite instruments—and grew into a stirring full-band arrangement.

The show wasn't without schmaltz (the Spanish-guitar-abetted "My Valentine," dedicated to McCartney's wife, Nancy, was accompanied by video of Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp doing sign language, for some reason) or bombast ("Live and Let Die" came with pyrotechnic explosions a degree or two away from singing the front row's eyebrows) or senior pop-star moments (he strained to reach those screeching high notes on "Maybe I'm Amazed"). But that's all part of McCartney's legacy, too. It culminated in the standard "hands across the world" singalong of "Hey Jude," something we've all heard and seen so much that it's little more than a soccer chant at this point. But it doesn't matter. That chorus hits, and suddenly, you're na-na-naing along with thousands of other people—whether you're the truck driver that was sitting next to me, or Corin Tucker across the aisle. Because, somewhere deep down, you know it's what you're supposed to do.

Paul McCartney performs at Moda Center on April 15. 
IMAGES: Emily Joan Greene.

All photos by Emily Joan Greene.

Paul McCartney in Portland: As good as it gets
By David Greenwald
The Oregonian/OregonLive 
on April 16, 2016

Paul McCartney brings his 'One on One' tour to the Moda Center on April 15, 2016, playing dozens of Beatles, Wings, and solo hits and sharing stories from his legendary career. (David Greenwald/The Oregonian)

Paul McCartney is still making history.

Frank Sinatra struggled to fill arenas in his 70s. Michael Jackson is gone. Aretha Franklin won't get on a plane to tour. "Shadows in the Night" is the title of Bob Dylan's latest album but it might as well describe some of his recent performances. The Rolling Stones play the occasional exhilarating stadium show, but 50 years later, we can say it: they aren't the Beatles. In 2016, we've been losing legends by the day: of the giants of 20th century music, of music as we know it, there's only one person who still stands this tall.

McCartney, the cute one, still the most bright-eyed and boyish—even though George Harrison, the quiet one, was younger all those years ago—played a miraculous concert at the Moda Center on Friday with his four-piece band. He did the Beatles. He did Wings. He even did a tune from the Quarrymen, Paul, George and John Lennon's earlier group. All of it was joyous, exuberant, a gift from one of the world's greatest songwriters to the fans who have followed him for decades. (A gift that cost $250 or more for the better seats, but what, you were going to buy a new phone this week?)

Calling a McCartney gig a concert is like calling "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" a movie. The legacy, the nostalgia, the expectations—McCartney understands all of it. His "One on One" show rolled out the expected lighting rigs and video screens, but the real stagecraft was his storytelling: he touched on playing ukulele with Harrison, meeting Russian officials who learned English from Beatles songs, being nervous in the studio recording "Love Me Do" with late producer George Martin, and penning "Blackbird" to support the 1960s civil rights movement. These moments from rock history were funny and humble—€”or as humble as one can be about, say, Jimi Hendrix learning your new song in two days, as the guitar god did for "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" upon its release. On Friday, McCartney returned the tribute with an instrumental jam through "Foxy Lady," taking his major guitar solo for the evening.

The set list, matching up with Wednesday's Fresno tour debut, felt erratic at first, swerving from "A Hard Day's Night" to recent track "Save Us" and back to the Beatles with "Can't Buy Me Love." McCartney's voice, once unblemished gold, has aged into something sometimes more coppery. But the show settled in, reaching a lovely peak when McCartney, alone on a platform that rose above the crowd, delivered acoustic renditions of "Blackbird" and "Here Today." "Fool on the Hill" and "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" explored colorful psychedelia; a cover of Harrison's "Something" shifted from uke-only to a fantastic full-band.

And McCartney entered the 2010s like a relevant Millennial by singing his latest collaboration, "FourFiveSeconds"—€”taking the vocal place of Rihanna and Kanye West, which meant hearing a Beatle sing "Hold me back, I'm 'bout to spaz" with a lyric video running behind him. Not to avoid the full arena experience, James Bond theme "Live and Let Die" included blasting pyrotechnics, sprays of lasers and climactic fireworks that left McCartney clutching his ears in mock irritation. His crowd work saw its wittiest improvisation when he invited a sign-holding couple on stage for a marriage proposal—€”the musician had to convince the giddy groom to take a knee.

The oldies, some of which McCartney played 51 years ago in the Beatles' Portland debut, were the obvious favorites. I'll never forget reading a Rolling Stones review in the Los Angeles Times a decade or so ago, where the critic Robert Hilburn ragged the band for not doing more from their new album of the day, "A Bigger Bang"—€”for playing it safe. And it's a fair argument. To his credit, McCartney did three songs from 2013's "New," a sharp record made with the likes of Ethan Johns and Mark Ronson, some of the best young producers in pop. But I was at that Stones show, seeing the band for the first time: playing the hits isn't necessarily selling out or settling into obsolescence.

It's a celebration, of art that deserves to endure and the incoming generations getting the chance to share in their parents' or even grandparents' music. We can't always be the lucky ones front-row at the Cavern Club or the Troubadour or the Doug Fir Lounge during a band's early days, but we can still have nights like this. Nights where we get to sing "Hey Jude" in all its heart-filling, na-na-na glory. As Harrison once sang, all things must pass. But not Paul McCartney. Not yet.

-- David Greenwald

Correction: McCartney's Hendrix cover was "Foxy Lady," not "Purple Haze."

'One on One' tour to the Moda Center on April 15, 2016

Paul McCartney brings his 'One on One' tour to the Moda Center on April 15, 2016, playing dozens of Beatles, Wings, and solo hits and sharing stories from his legendary career. (David Greenwald/The Oregonian)

David Greenwald | The Oregonian/OregonLive

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