Paul McCartney - The US Tour 2005

01.11.2005, Denver, CO; "Pepsi Center"


McCartney performs both the gritty and greats

By Mark Brown, Rocky Mountain News
When you reach the level of icon, people will applaud you for merely showing up. They'll go wild just because you're in their presence.

There are plenty of artists who are happy to just take that, serve up the same old show and be back at the hotel before the crowd even makes it to their cars.

Paul McCartney didn't want that. This tour could have been a cash-grab of his biggest hits - (cough), Rolling Stones (cough) - and people still would have paid $250 a seat just to be there.

Instead, the tour in support of Chaos and Creation in the Backyard features what is easily McCartney's most eclectic set list ever - crazy stuff, songs you never thought you'd hear live.

Of course, when you have an arsenal of songs that not only ruled the music world but changed the culture and direction of the entire world, well, hey, you've got something to work with.

Given his embarrassment of riches, it's hard to imagine a better McCartney concert.

With a spare, clean stage decorated with elaborate lighting schemes, McCartney led the crowd through two hours of highlight after highlight. They ranged from a delicate reading of Jenny Wren off the new album to mining Beatles obscurities (as obscure as Beatles songs get, anyway) with nuggets such as I'll Follow the Sun (with faux endings that kept the crowd guessing) and I'll Get You that McCartney has never played live, post-Beatles.

His biggest solo hits haven't necessarily been his best songs, so he thankfully avoided material such as Silly Love Songs and dug into grittier stuff, Too Many People and the always welcome gritty rocker Let Me Roll It (this time infused with a cover of Jimi Hendrix's Foxy Lady in its coda).

The acoustic portion of the show, like last time, was the absolute highlight. It's a delight to fans that even the most complex Beatles songs can be stripped down to their gorgeous base. Last time, it was never-heard stuff such as You Never Give Me Your Money. This time around, it was other never-performed music, with the overlooked White Album gem, I Will, finally getting its debut on this tour.

Even material we have heard before - Blackbird, For No One - were simply stunning. It's one thing to write such groundbreaking material; it's another to be able to hold an entire arena dead silent with just an acoustic guitar and a voice.

It would be heretical to suggest the live versions rivaled the Beatles originals, but the wave of awe that went over the crowd when the band burst into Eleanor Rigby was palpable.

Not that the big hits were neglected - Band on the Run, The Long and Winding Road, Hey Jude, Yesterday and more were all part of the deal.

Diversity of songs would merely be an exercise in catalog mining if -McCartney weren't having such a good time doing it. She Came in Through the Bathroom Window was a particular delight for both performer and fans.

Tight security that included sweeps with metal-detecting wands - does Denver have a reputation for particularly thuggish boomers? - caused the show to be pushed back 45 minutes. So, at press time, McCartney was still working through what was to be a 36-song set.,1299,DRMN_54_4205446,00.html

McCartney ascends on wings of "Wren"
By Ricardo Baca
An hour into his set Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center, Paul McCartney stepped forward, alone, with an acoustic guitar and a song that will faithfully and steadily take him into the next phase of his career.

"Jenny Wren" takes the "Eleanor Rigby" route of songwriting, and while the narrative isn't as driving, the pop sensibility is the same. And the song is more fitting of the McCartney of 2005 and his inimitable, aging English baritone than anything else in his live catalog, which fans already know by heart.

McCartney's two-hour set, preceded by a awkward DJ set and superfluous 10-minute mini-documentary, was as sprawling as you would imagine. Beatles favorites were firmly planted in there - including a spectacular late-set combo of "Blackbird" and "Eleanor Rigby" - and his solo songwriting also played a strong, though less important, role in the hit-packed evening.

His new material, from the stellar "Jenny Wren" to the less impressive "Fine Line" and "English Tea," played its role without being too invasive. And so did the essential McCartney/George Harrison composition of "In Spite of All the Danger," a song that predates The Beatles and was an obvious building block for the band that would become the greatest of all time.

"Jenny Wren" is essential because without it, McCartney is floating in a curious space in pop culture - part anachronism, part ageless genius. So much of his writing from the '60s and '70s lives on as the best and most memorable of its kind, regardless of the era. But much of his material from the '80s - power ballads and synth/piano anthems alike - fails to resonate with the same


relevance. (See "Band on the Run," which came 90 minutes into the set, and "Back in the USSR," which - with the help of a beautifully modernized "Hey Jude" - helped bring him into the encore.)

But while the McCartney mullet is still there - as is the strange, heavyweight boxer-like parading after every couple songs, his guitar or bass held over his head like a glittering championship belt - this was a man who is coming into himself, again. He turned 63 in June, and a few months later he proved he still has it with the oftentimes brilliant record "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard."

Aside from "Jenny Wren," McCartney was at his best playing acoustic versions of the songs that made him famous. "For No One" took on a newfound sincerity, and "I Will" was a hauntingly sweet meditation on young love.

The acoustic work continued with a lovely "I'll Follow the Sun," the chorus of which he playfully - and methodically - brought back repeatedly. He followed it with the new "Follow Me," which isn't a standout track but is the one he dedicated to his wife, Heather Mills, and their baby, Beatrice Milly McCartney, who turned 2 last week.