Paul McCartney delivers Beatles history lesson in Tinley Park
By Bob Gendron
JULY 26 2017
Paul McCartney plays with his touring band at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park on July 25, 2017. (Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)
Paaul McCartney arrived in a Beatles mood Tuesday at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre. Performing the first of a two-night stand, the 75-year-old legend devoted a majority of his wide-ranging 165-minute concert to music he created with the Fab Four — a decision that sat well with the sold-out crowd. Yet he catered to more than nostalgic interests by taking on the role of informed historian.
Seemingly acting as his own archivist, McCartney went all the way back to his early days (“In Spite of All the Danger,” the first song he recorded in a studio, with the Quarrymen) and caught up with the present (a respectable stab at imitating the vocal approaches of Rihanna and Kanye West on the trio’s collaborative “FourFiveSeconds”). In between, he mined his solo catalog and that of Wings and the Beatles. Straightforward versions of hits (“Let Me Roll It”) shared space with revamped favorites (a harder, extra-bombastic “Live and Let Die”) and unexpected deep cuts (the krautrock-flavored “Temporary Secretary”).
Cheerful and humorous, McCartney seized multiple opportunities to get personal and put familiar fare in meaningful context with homespun stories. Preceded by narratives, tributes to George Martin (“Love Me Do”), John Lennon (“Here Today”) and George Harrison (a ukulele-anchored “Something”) registered with heartfelt sincerity. A solo “Blackbird” transcended its Civil Rights-era origins and resonated as a still-hopeful response to modern injustice. “Maybe I’m Amazed” honored McCartney’s first wife, Linda, and functioned as a humble reminder of his own vulnerability.
McCartney also addressed another key arc of his career: The Beatles’ supposed rivalry with the Rolling Stones. In typically reserved British wit, he dismissed such lore as “fake news” before launching into an insistent, distortion-kissed “I Wanna Be Your Man” — the Stones’ first hit single, which he and Lennon penned. Another former contemporary, Jimi Hendrix, received due via an anecdote and “Foxey Lady” jam.
Bolstered by monster drummer Abe Laboriel Jr., McCartney’s enthusiastic band appeared as if it could’ve handled any vintage or challenge thrown its direction. The collective gave “We Can Work It Out” an old-world European accent and made “New” bounce akin to a giddy puppy dog loping down a hall. It also treated harmonies as child’s play, striking pleasing balances that complemented rather than dominated.
The blends not only served the songs but enhanced McCartney’s leads. While compensating for a noticeably bare top end, and occasionally showing signs of thinning, the singer’s voice largely held its own. As did his tonal bass playing, never more convincing than when delivered with his trademark Hofner instrument, which emitted a look and sound as classic as McCartney’s spirit.
Sir Paul McCartney Puts Tinley Park On The Map With 'Macca-Nificent' Show
Former Beatle shows his love for Chicagoland fans with three-hour set, yeah, yeah, yeah.
By Lorraine Swanson (Patch Staff)
Updated July 26, 2017
TINLEY PARK, IL -- Sir Paul McCartney put Tinley Park on the map with a killer show Tuesday evening at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre. The 75-year-old McCartney played a generous set that included “old songs, new songs and songs in between” from his prolific , 50-plus year songbook. I have to admit that prior to this show I was more of a John Lennon fan, but I walked away with newfound respect for the other half of the Beatles' “Lennon-McCartney” songwriting team.
SPOILER ALERTS for those of you going to Wednesday’s show; you’re in for a treat. McCartney strolled onto the stage at 8:15 p.m. and it wasn’t until 11:15 p.m. before the 75-year-old former Beatle left the building. Backed by Brian Ray, Rusty Anderson, Abe Laboriel Jr. and Wix Wicken — often proclaimed the best band Sir Paul has played with since the Beatles, and the longest — McCartney opened with “A Hard Day’s Night.” Although John was the dominant writer of the title song from the 1964 film, Lennon sang the lead but couldn’t hit the high notes so Paul sang the bridge. It was Beatlemania all over again, with the original fans screaming their heads off, as well as their children and grandchildren.
I sat next to a woman named Kathy from my old North Side stomping ground, Uptown. Kathy has been on Macca watch all week and is one of the “Fans On the Run” following McCartney’s One-on-One Tour. Kathy saw the Fab Four play Comiskey Park once, and twice at the old Chicago Amphitheatre during the Beatles’ touring days in the early 1960s. Paul wore black jeans, a collarless jacket with sergeant stripes on the sleeve, and a white shirt. He took the jacket off by his third song, “Can’t Buy Me Love.”
Stunning 3D video played on triple split screens behind the band and to the sides of the stage. Most memorable were the blackbirds flying out of a stark field and the wax figures from the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (released 50 years ago this summer) coming to life. Pyrotechnics fire exploded from the stage during "Live and Let Die."
Paul filled the spaces between songs with interesting anecdotes (the late Jimi Hendrix played an electric cover of Sgt. Pepper on his first concert tour), the alleged rivalry between the Beatles and Rolling Stones (“fake news”) and Beatles producer Sir George Martin putting Paul on lead vocals on “Love Me Do” to free up John for the harmonica. He also played two emotional musical tributes to the late John Lennon on the 1982 “Here Today,” confessing to the audience that he never told Lennon what he meant to him. Paul brought out a ukulele for the opening of the beautiful George Harrison ballad “Something” which ended in an electric Harrison-esque guitar riff.
McCartney dipped deep into his songbook, all the way back to The Quarryman, Lennon’s Liverpool skiffle band, on the rockabilly “In Spite of All The Danger,” with a generous selection of Beatles and Wings tunes. Thankfully, Sir Paul did not play “Silly Love Songs.”
As for getting out of the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre parking lot after the show, it lived up to its hellish reputation. Still, it was the best concert I've been to, including those from the 1970s, some of which, for varying reasons, I have a hard time remembering.
Photos by Patch Contributor AJ Roccaforte