Paul McCartney Delivers "Old Songs, New Songs, and In-Between Songs" at AAA
BY DOUGLAS MARKOWITZ
SATURDAY, JULY 8, 2017
Paul McCartney plays the hits at American Airlines Arena.
Photo by Karli Evans
The sold-out crowd at American Airlines Arena was old – not geriatric, but certainly approaching retirement age. Younger faces could be seen throughout the audience, from children and young adults to professionals in their 30s and 40s, but make no mistake, the gray-haired, t-shirted Baby Boomers were out in fullest force.
This is the audience Paul McCartney, himself 75, has been performing for since 1963. He knows exactly what they want, and he’s the first to admit it.
“We can tell which songs you like the most,” he said in between songs. “When we play a Beatles song, the place lights up like a galaxy with all the phones. When we play a new song it’s like a black hole.”
Complains aside, the rock star happily obliged his fans as he and his band ripped through a 33-song set – 38 with encore – that began with “A Hard Day’s Night” and ended with (what else?) “The End.” Cherry-picking his lengthy career for greatest hits and under-heard favorites, the show split the difference between “old songs, new songs and in-between song,” filling the gaps with stories from his time hanging with other rock icons. All 60-odd years of his career were represented, as he played both the first song ever recorded by the Beatles – “There was five of us at that time…it cost us five pounds, a pound each” – as well as his latest song, the Kanye West and Rihanna collab “FourFiveSeconds” (Ye and Riri, sadly, did not appear). He also took time to dedicate songs to the three other members of the Beatles – Ringo got “Birthday” in celebration of his 77th – producer George Martin, McCartney’s wife Nancy, and even the Rolling Stones. “This idea of a rivalry,” he said of the band, “it’s a fake thing. Fake news!”
It would be one thing to see Paul McCartney perform in person, but the concert at the AAA was supplemented by a barrage of incredible special effects. Lights and video screens would move in and out of place. Nostalgic numbers like “Maybe I’m Amazed” got photo-album videos while more thematic tracks were accompanied by dazzling, even psychedelic visuals. In one segment of the show that included early material, the band moved to the front of the stage underneath a group of screens imitating a bayou shanty. In another, as the band took a break, McCartney performed “Blackbird” and “Here Today” solo atop a raised platform covered in LED screens showing footage of waterfalls. By the time they unleashed the pyrotechnics for “Live and Let Die,” I had seen enough lasers and multicolored lights to last through the next five Star Wars films.
Then there’s the man himself, switching between instruments at will and remaining onstage for over two hours. McCartney’s energy is as formidable as his electrifying stage presence. He’s a man that has performed in stadiums for most of his life, and knows it. He’s probably given every anecdote a hundred times, but he doesn’t care because it makes us happy. Sauntering across the stage, raising his guitar above his head, he epitomizes the phrases “crowdpleaser” and “still got it” in equal measure.
Maybe it’s this undeniable verve that made the show such a hit. Maybe it’s the fact that so many music fans have a connection to the Beatles that we can’t help but find something to like in the incredibly varied performance. I wouldn’t call Paul McCartney’s latest South Florida appearance a perfect show – he could stand to trim a few songs from the set – but it was damn close. And I know because what gave me hearing damage last night wasn’t the bang of the fireworks or the crash of the drums: it was the cheering crowd, young and old (but mostly old), screaming for an encore.
Review: In Miami, Paul McCartney's still fab
By Ben Crandell
JULY 8 2017
Paul McCartney's concert at Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena on Friday, July 7, opened a new U.S. leg of his globe-trotting One On One tour. It was the first South Florida concert by the Beatles’ legend since his Up & Coming concert at Sun Life Stadium in 2010. (Jim Rassol)
As the iconic opening chord of “A Hard Day’s Night” pierced the expectant atmosphere inside AmericanAirlines Arena to begin Paul McCartney’s triumphant return to South Florida Friday night, Laurie Steele was already in tears.
These were the tears the 63-year-old Pompano Beach resident had hoped to shed as a Beatles-obsessed 10-year-old living in Cutler Bay, when the Fab Four landed in Miami in 1964 on their first U.S. tour. “My parents couldn’t afford it,” she said. “They took me to Herman’s Hermits instead.”
Seeing her idol perform was No. 1 on Steele’s bucket list when McCartney announced he would open a U.S. leg of his One On One Tour in Miami, so she plunked down $1,700 for two seats about 20 rows from the stage, where daughter Lyndsey watched Steele cry for close to three hours.
“It was a religious experience,” Steele said after finally catching up to her favorite Beatle. “I’m going to keep doing this until one of us is dead.”
McCartney, indeed, was a revelation Friday night. A remarkably boyish 75-year-old, he joked, flirted, mugged and told stories while performing nearly 40 songs, among them the most memorable music ever created. It was a night of communion and joy, sing-alongs and standing ovations, in which star and audience seemed to feed off each other. A quick jitterbug in his final bow suggested McCartney could have continued for three more hours.
Performing on a spare black stage, backed by a video screen and an intricate grid of lights, McCartney moved easily among the bass, acoustic and electric guitars, two pianos and a ukulele. With his honey-colored hair swept to one side, gray allowed at the temples, McCartney’s impressive fitness and energy extended to his voice. While understandably thinner than in his heyday, McCartney did not seem to strain much to hit the highs and lows on “Maybe I’m Amazed” and applied a graceful warmth to the gentle ballad “And I Love Her.”
McCartney was again accompanied by his excellent band of more than 15 years: guitarists Rusty Anderson, Brian Ray, drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. and Paul Wickens on keyboards and guitars.
The Beatles’ culture-defining hits produced the expected, if no less magical, reaction. “Let It Be” and “Yesterday” were bathed in a galaxy of cell phones, and “Hey Jude” turned the arena into a bowl of swaying hands.
He honored John Lennon with the touching “Here Today,” written after Lennon’s death (“It’s the conversation we never got to have,” McCartney said). Recalling a day when he and George Harrison did a ukulele duet on “Something,” McCartney opened the song on ukulele in honor of his late friend. Ringo Starr, who turned 77 on Friday, got a version of “Birthday.”
Under swirls of psychedelic panels and lasers, “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" and “Can’t Buy Me Love” — the latter backed by the flicker of old footage of John, Paul, George and Ringo joking around in the studio, running from girls — were fun for fun’s sake.
More obscure music yielded unexpected pleasures. McCartney reached back to “the very first song the Beatles ever recorded,” the loping, Roy Orbison-style rocker “In Spite of All the Danger” (when the band was known as the Quarrymen), which the audience sang with unexpected vigor. McCartney’s Kanye West-Rhianna collaboration, “FourFiveSeconds,” was also received enthusiastically by crowd members who may have shoes older than Rihanna.
Several optimism-against-the-odds ballads seemed to find new relevance with the audience, including “Let It Be,” “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “We Can Work It Out.” The latter produced a massive sing-along, with McCartney allowing the audience to handle the final line, “We can work it out,” as he raised his fist.
Similarly, “Blackbird,” which McCartney explained he and Lennon had written to bring “a little bit of hope” to those suffering under segregation in the American South, achieved special poignancy as the final line, “You were only waiting for this moment to arise,” was drowned in applause.
McCartney’s One On One Tour performance in Miami was postponed from its originally date on July 5, with producers citing production enhancements. If one of the enhancements was the pyrotechnic assault that was part of the Wings classic “Live and Let Die,” they might want to rethink it again.
The huge explosions and balls of flame that rocked the front of the stage had to rival anything Metallica was putting out across town at Hard Rock Stadium, and even McCartney seemed shocked, holding his hands up to his ears as he reoriented himself. And then he sat down at the piano, leaned into the microphone, and sang “Hey Jude…”
Copyright © 2017, South Florida
Music icon Paul McCartney brings his One On One tour to the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. Miami, FL. 7/7/17. Staff Photographer Jim Rassol.