Paul McCartney - The US Tour 2005

14.10.2005, Auburn Hills, MI; "Palace of Auburn Hills"




Energy and emotion flow in McCartney marathon
By Susan Whitall / The Detroit News
UBURN HILLS -- Paul McCartney presented 16,000 souls at the Palace with a marathon show that would have served well to explain who he is to, say, a visiting alien from Venus.

Starting at about 8:30, a DJ served up mashups of McCartney songs that grew in volume, paired with displays of paintings (no doubt by Macca). One could sense the relief from older members of the audience when the cacophonous music simmered down in volume and World War II sirens heralded a documentary of McCartney's life, starting with his birth certificate.

It's fascinating stuff for McCartney and Beatles fans, but it goes on a bit and we didn't get to see the knight himself until just about 9 p.m., when he came bashing out, playing "Magical Mystery Tour" with his young band. He entertained the sellout crowd for the next two and a half hours, zipping through Beatles songs, Wings songs, and several from his new album "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard."

The album has drawn some warm reviews, and of the new material the audience seemed to like "Jenny Wren" the best. It appeared that more than a few fans mistook it at first for a Beatles song.

McCartney played his old Hofner left-handed bass for most of the Beatles songs like "Drive My Car," "I'll Get You," "Got to Get You Into My Life," etc. The Hofner is a bit more worn now than it was back in the '60s when he played it onstage, but burnished and mellow -- much like McCartney's voice, which hits an amazing number of high notes for his age, but sounds a little worn at the top this time out. He has to bear the brunt of all the singing, unlike in the Beatles when he had Lennon, Harrison, and even Starr to take over the leads.

McCartney switches to piano for "Fine Line" and the always-stirring "Maybe I'm Amazed," his early love song for Linda that still sounds raw and hopeful.

The next song was one only the hardcore fans had heard: "In Spite of All the Danger," a rockabillyish tune McCartney recorded with his pre-Beatles group, the Quarrymen (also featuring John Lennon and George Harrison). He explained that the recording cost five pounds, one from each boy, so each of them got to keep the old shellac record for a week -- except the drummer, who kept it for 23 years.

As always, McCartney's interaction with the audience is well-honed and ongoing. He kept up a patter about the many signs out in the audience, and how he feared that reading them would make him lose his place. But he read one anyway, "'Ben is asking Melissa in the fourth row to marry him.' ...Well go on, get down on your knees and ask her, Ben!" he ordered.

Ben complied, and someone yelled out "She said yes!"

"Well that's a first for me," McCartney quipped. "And I hope it's a last for you, Ben."

Later on, he had different sides of the arena sing the chorus to "Hey Jude," then the people on the floor, then just the men, then the women ..."And now just Ben and Melissa," McCartney said, pointing to the fourth row. They did, although nobody could hear a word.

Sideman Brian Ray, who switched back and forth from guitar to bass, depending upon which McCartney played, thanked us for "50 years of great music, from Hitsville to Mitch Ryder, all the way to the White Stripes," and everybody seemed happy to take credit for all musical feats from the Motor City.

Some of the best moments of the show were McCartney's softer songs like "Fixing a Hole" or "I Will" or "For No One," songs that seem slight at first hearing, but have the common thread of dreamy, quirky melodies that were always a nice counterpoint, on the Beatles albums, to the blunter acerbity of Lennon's songs. The otherworldly quality present in those songs, particularly "Let It Be," put the lie to idiotic jibes like Yoko Ono's recent one, that McCartney's songwriting was simpler and somehow less serious than that of her ex-husband, John Lennon.

McCartney's rockers, particularly "Jet," "Live and Let Die," and "Back in the U.S.S.R.," are what keep a vast arena like the Palace rocking and the energy high. But there's something about the elegance of the chords of "Hey Jude" or "Let It Be" that creates the most emotion. Cynthia Lennon recently was moved to tears, telling a reporter how touched she was that McCartney wrote a song as anthemic and enduring as "Hey Jude," to cheer up her son Julian when she and Lennon were getting divorced.

One of the best moments had to be the impromptu songwriting workshop, where McCartney played a snippet of Bach, on guitar, that he and George Harrison used to play together as boys messing around in McCartney's front parlor in Liverpool. He showed how a certain part of the melody that they got wrong, actually, fascinated him because "I liked the way the bass part had a little melody in it. So I took that bit and put it in this song," he said, chiming into the chords to "Blackbird," the beautiful ballad from the "White Album."

And an instance where video served him well was during "Good Day Sunshine," when McCartney explained how NASA woke up the Discovery shuttle astronauts with the song during the recent difficult mission, when they were doing tricky repairs. Video of the crew played behind the band, "with the first female space commander, an Irish lass named Eileen Collins," McCartney said.

McCartney's young band did yeoman's work replicating his Beatles songs; keyboardist John "Wix" Wickens used his hand and feet to do the intricate parts on "Eleanor Rigby."

Best of all, for anybody who sat up in a dorm room sipping Boone's Farm and listening to each Beatle rock out on a guitar solo on the song "The End," McCartney and his bandmates did a pretty good job of capturing that song's swaggering machismo, with first McCartney, then superb lead guitarist Rusty Anderson, then bassist/guitarist Ray taking George and John's parts respectively, battling it out for total guitar domination.

Paul McCartney performs again tonight at the Palace. Select tickets were released a few days ago and some are available for tonight's show.

McCartney's theme: Meet the Beatles
October 15, 2005
It's almost as if Paul McCartney has rediscovered just what the Beatles mean. Friday night at a sold-out Palace of Auburn Hills, first in a two-night stand there, the 63-year-old legend delivered a show decorated with an abundance of tunes from his former group, including more than a few steps into less-traveled Beatles corners.

In a 36-song set drawing on more than four decades' worth of material, McCartney and his crack four-man band kept things loose and playful for a capacity crowd of more than 16,000.

Stepping out shortly before 9 p.m., vintage Hofner bass in hand, McCartney kicked into the opening chords of the Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour."

An extensive mid-show acoustic set stood out, if only for serving as a showcase for several unconventional Beatles song choices, including the early Lennon-McCartney obscurity "In Spite of All the Danger," a pleasant rendition of "I Will" and a satisfyingly elegant performance of "Eleanor Rigby."

McCartney also used the segment to reveal the connective tissue between Beatles classics and material from his latest album, "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard." Such songs as "For No One" and "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window" were set adjacent to newer material such as "English Tea" and "Too Many People."

The Beatles selections far outweighed the number of songs pulled from McCartney's solo career and Wings period, representing perhaps his biggest leap yet in what has been a steady, two-decade journey back to his roots.

McCartney's band enjoyed an expanded role this time around, with stellar drummer Abe Laboriel leading the way on the sweatier runs through such rockers as "Jet" and "Back in the USSR."

While he appeared particularly thin and fit Friday night for his first Detroit area appearance since May 2002, McCartney at times appeared to be battling a scratchy voice, with high notes escaping him on some of the older stuff.

Most disappointing, though, was the uncharacteristically tepid Detroit crowd, which was almost startlingly subdued -- failing to roar on cue even when McCartney paid homage to the city's status as home to "some of the world's greatest music."

Perhaps the low energy seeped onto the stage; there were times when McCartney seemed less engaged than on previous tour stops, particularly his 2002 show. But it's hard to complain when McCartney -- the man who now serves as the primary custodian of the Beatles' legacy -- seems happier than ever to celebrate the time and spirit that started it all.

A magical tour; McCartney concert shares his best from four decades.
A column by James Grant
Posted on Mon, Oct. 17, 2005
“(Roll up), we’ve got everything you need.
(Roll up), satisfaction guaranteed.”

These two lines from “Magical Mystery Tour,” the opening song of Paul McCartney’s show Friday at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich., sum up my feelings about McCartney’s performance. The show had all the right elements that made for a great evening of entertainment.

The pre-show began with a DJ – Freelance Hellraiser (real name Roy Kerr) – who took to the front right side of the stage behind what looked like a white picket fence. The fence turned out to be a video monitor that projected various images as the DJ played a funky assortment of dance beats mixed with segments of McCartney songs. His “performance” went over OK, but the audience grew restless waiting for McCartney to appear.

Next up came a 10-minute film that showed highlights of McCartney’s life and career and was narrated by McCartney himself. After a countdown of “3 … 2 … 1” the curtain parted and McCartney and his band roared into “Magical Mystery Tour.”

“Greetings, Detroit City. We’ve come many miles to rock you tonight, and rock you we will!” McCartney announced after the first number.

The audience responded enthusiastically throughout the show. During various songs, people would stand up and dance or sway in their seats to the music. Children to senior citizens could be seen enjoying the more than four decades of music that has sprung from McCartney’s pen.

The high-tech stage enhanced the focus on McCartney and his band. It had a floor made up of colorful lighted squares that curled up like a wave behind the drums and keyboards. The pattern of squares continued on the wall behind the stage, and all the squares either lighted up or projected various images that were tailored to each song.

There were some surprises in McCartney’s song choices. (Spoiler alert – stop reading here if you happen to be going to see McCartney shows in Chicago or Columbus, Ohio.)

A few Beatles songs, such as “I’ll Get You” (the B-side to “She Loves You”), “Please Please Me” and “Till There Was You” haven’t been performed live by McCartney since the 1960s, and some, such as “I Will” and “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” have never been performed live until this tour. McCartney also threw in “Too Many People” – one of my favorites from his 1971 album “Ram” — that was a raucous delight.

The newer songs from his recent CD “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard” also came across well. The radio single “Fine Line” was especially punchy and sounded a little heavier than on the album. The acoustic song “Jenny Wren” — which McCartney has called “daughter of ‘Blackbird’” — sounded excellent next to the Beatles classic that inspired it.

My favorite part of the evening was the acoustic set in which McCartney performed several solo songs on the guitar and piano. He told stories about how the songs were written or funny tidbits about performing. One was from the second show of this tour, in which he fell into an opening in the stage floor from which a piano was supposed to rise up for him to play. McCartney shrugged off the incident with his Liverpudlian sense of humor, mocking himself in the process.

Often during the show, McCartney commented on the various signs people were waving at him. The most intriguing sign came to his attention after he and the band had finished playing “Eleanor Rigby.”

For a few seconds, McCartney stared out into the audience and then read the sign, which contained a marriage proposal from a Ben to a Melissa. McCartney joked that Ben should get on his knees and propose properly, and Ben did just that in front of more than 20,000 people. The monitors above the stage showed the happy moment as the crowd cheered in approval.

“That’s a first for me, Ben, and I hope it’s the last for you,” McCartney quipped as he went on to the next song.

Having seen McCartney perform live four times previously, I have to say this show was probably my favorite. McCartney seemed relaxed and assured, and the fun he was having on stage was translated to the audience. The band was excellent, the music was vibrant and joyous, and McCartney’s voice was strong and expressive throughout.

Indeed, it was a magical tour through McCartney’s great catalog of songs.

Finally at ease, McCartney gives, receives the love
By Doug Pullen
Sunday, October 16, 2005
AUBURN HILLS - If, as Paul McCartney sang at the end of his Friday performance at The Palace, "the love you take is equal to the love you make," then there was a lot of lovin' going on at the first of his two sold-out shows here.

In fact, the former Beatle interrupted the proceedings to read one of the many signs that dotted the sell-out crowd. "Can Ben in Row 4 ask Melissa to marry him," McCartney read/asked, before offering a little encouragement: "C'mon, Ben, in front of 20,000 people!"

A tearful and stunned Melissa accepted, prompting McCartney to say, "That's a first for me, Ben, and I hope it's the last for you."

Let's hope it's not the last time McCartney decides to hit the road. Picking up where 2002's revitalizing "Driving USA" tour left off, McCartney has reached a certain level of comfort in his life and his current "US" tour celebrates that.

He no longer feels he has to compete with John Lennon's ghost. He has put the death of his longtime wife Linda behind him (even excluding her image from the 10-minute biographical film that opened the show) and appears rejuvenated by his marriage to Heather Mills and the new family they've started.

He recently made one of the best, most personal albums of his solo career in "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard" and he's touring with the same sterling band - guitarist/vocalist Rusty Anderson, guitarist/bassist/vocalist Brian Ray, keyboard wizard Paul "Wix" Wickens and drummer/vocalist Abe Laboriel Jr. - that energized him on the last tour and whose versatility allowed him to dig confidently into a revered Beatles song bag.

Like the last tour, McCartney is performing some songs for the first time ever. He's digging even deeper into his treasure trove, pulling out obscurities like "In Spite of All the Danger," a "pre-Beatles" song, as he called it, from the group's skiffle-era precursor, the Quarrymen, and the standard "Till There Was You," which he described as one of the "smoochier songs" the Beatles had to do to get better-paying gigs in their early days.

It also served as a powerful reminder of just how sweetly melodic his voice still is at 63 years of age.

McCartney also dipped into the "White Album," "Abbey Road," "Let it Be" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" for such rarely or never-performed gems as a solo piano version of "Fixing a Hole," a blustery "I've Got a Feeling," a lovely "I Will" and a noisy "Helter Skelter," which he shouted more than sang.

For every well-executed staple, like "Let it Be," "Hey Jude" and "Jet," there was an equally assured surprise, like the Beatlemania-era obscurity "I'll Get You," a song so old, he joked, "If you remember it, you weren't there."

It was a smartly designed, well-paced show, with clean staging and unobtrusive, often clever video accompaniment. The song sequencing allowed the aging legend to touch upon the best phases of his storied career and preserve his voice, conserving his energy early, showing off his wonderful way with a melody in the mostly solo-mid-section and rock with abandon at the end.

Through it all, McCartney's indomitable spirit and persistent positivism shone through. He is living proof that there is such a thing as a good, happy song (despite some of those bad silly love songs he used to write) and that in divisive times we need to pull together. John may have said all we need is love, but on Friday, Paul was giving it and getting it.

At concert, Paul McCartney gives Ohio couple permission to marry
October 21, 2005
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — An ordinary down-on-one-knee engagement request just wouldn't be memorable enough for Ben Okuly.

He wanted something more, so he planned to ask his girlfriend, Melissa Steele, at a Paul McCartney concert Oct. 14 in suburban Detroit.

But it became a whole lot more memorable when McCartney joined in.

Ben, a 26-year-old who works at a library in Findlay, Ohio, thought about asking Melissa at the concert while the two were driving to The Palace of Auburn Hills.

"We haven't had the best time for the last 18 months," he said. "I lost two grandparents in three months, and in July, Melissa lost her sister. I was trying to think of a way to do this and make it a memorable occasion, really special."

So he made a sign and held it up from his fourth-row seat: "CAN BEN ASK MELISSA TO MARRY HIM?"

During the concert, McCartney spotted it and read it out loud.

"Well, go on, get down on your knees and ask her, Ben!" the former Beatle ordered. Ben did, and Melissa said yes.

"Well, that's a first for me," McCartney quipped of the in-concert engagement. "And I hope it's a last for you, Ben."

"To have Paul McCartney be there and start the proposal, I really don't have words to describe what that was like," Melissa, who works in a hospital emergency room, told The Detroit News for a story published Friday.

Will you marry me - and stop the show?
Auburn Hills, Michigan - Ben Okuly thought he was ready to propose to his girlfriend, but first he needed Paul McCartney's approval.

Okuly was attending one of former Beatle's concerts in suburban Detroit when he held up a sign that caught McCartney's eye:


During the concert last week, former Beatle McCartney spotted it and read it out loud, The Detroit News reported on Friday.

"Well, go on, get down on your knees and ask her, Ben!" Sir Paul ordered. Ben did, and Melissa said yes.

"Well, that's a first for me," McCartney quipped of the in-concert engagement. "And I hope it's a last for you, Ben."

Ben, a 26-year-old library employee, hatched the plan when he and his girlfriend, Melissa Steele, were driving from Ohio to the concert.

"I was trying to think of a way to do this and make it a memorable occasion, really special," he said.

Later in the concert, McCartney even pointed to the couple to sing their own line of Hey Jude when he had different sections of the arena sing the song to him.

"To have Paul McCartney be there and start the proposal, I really don't have words to describe what that was like," Melissa, who works in a hospital emergency room, told The Detroit News for a story published on Friday.

McCartney fans stage ultimate engagement
By Susan Whitall / The Detroit News
Ben and Melissa. Remember those names. They might become as familiar as Tom and Katie ... Rob and Amber ... even Sonny and Cher.

Ben Okuly and Melissa Steele are two crazy kids from Findlay, Ohio, who became engaged -- very publicly, with Paul McCartney as their enabler -- at the Paul McCartney concert last Friday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Ben, 26, is employed at the Findlay library, and Melissa, 25, works in a local hospital's emergency room.

Ben was thinking of asking Melissa to marry him when they drove up to Detroit for the McCartney concert. "We haven't had the best time for the last 18 months," he says. "I lost two grandparents in three months, and in July, Melissa lost her sister. I was trying to think of a way to do this and make it a memorable occasion, really special."

Little did he know.

During the show, McCartney spotted a sign Ben was holding up from his fourth row seat: "'CAN BEN ASK MELISSA TO MARRY HIM?'" McCartney read out loud.

"Well, go on, get down on your knees and ask her, Ben!" the former Beatle ordered. Ben did, and Melissa said yes.

"Well, that's a first for me," McCartney quipped of the in-concert engagement. "And I hope it's a last for you, Ben."

Later on, McCartney had different sides of the arena sing the "Na ... na na na na na na" chorus to "Hey Jude." First one side of the arena sang, then the other side, then the men, then just the women. "And now just Ben and Melissa," McCartney suddenly yelled, pointing to the fourth row

Ben and Melissa screamed the chorus at the top of their lungs, but no one could hear a word.

"To have Paul McCartney be there and start the proposal, I really don't have words to describe what that was like," says Melissa.

At the end of the show, when McCartney and the band bent over in deep bows to the audience, they pointed at Ben and Melissa and bowed one more time.

"That just blew me out of the water," says Ben. "We came to see them, and here they are giving us a special bow."

The couple returned to the Palace on Saturday to see the show again, and although McCartney mentioned their engagement, they were too far back for him to see them waving and screaming.

But this Saturday, they'll be at his concert in Columbus, Ohio. Maybe they'll make another sign. Maybe McCartney will once again mention "Ben and Melissa."

Maybe the firstborn Okuly heir will be named "Paul"?