Paul McCartney - The US Tour 2005

23.11.2005, Glendale, AZ; "Glendale Arena"



McCartney amazes with Beatles, solo hits

Larry Rodgers
Nov. 24, 2005

Seeing rock icon Paul McCartney in concert is not quite the novelty it used to be, but it remains an undeniably moving experience.

We"ve seen McCartney at this year"s Super Bowl and Live 8 benefit, and he visited Phoenix in 2002 on a world tour in which he played many of the same classic songs that he performed Wednesday night at Glendale Arena.

But the sight of McCartney, still looking and sounding great at age 63 and most important, still appearing to enjoy himself as he sings such early Beatles hits as "Please Please Me" and "I"ll Get You," Wings standouts like "Band On the Run" and "Let Me Roll It" and newer solo tunes including "Fine Line" and "Jenny Wren," remains impressive to any music fan with even the slightest grasp of rock-and-roll history.

"We came many miles to rock you tonight, and rock you we will," McCartney promised early in a 37-song performance that stretched nearly three hours, with no intermission. (Make all the jokes you want about aging rock stars, but most rising new bands in their 20s play concerts about half that long.)

Backed by a top-flight four-piece band led by a longtime collaborator -- keyboard and synthesizer wizard Paul "Wix" Wickens -- McCartney delivered on that promise with a surgical precision that seemed to bring smiles to the faces of nearly everyone in the sold-out crowd of more than 17,000.

As on his 2002, tour, McCartney has come to terms with the fact that most of his baby boomer-heavy audience wants a generous dose of Beatles fare, and two-thirds of Wednesday"s set was made up of just that.

What made this outing even more rewarding were extended between-song stories about how various tunes were created.

The early Beatles hit "Till There Was You," it turns out, was written as a romantic "smoochie song" that would get the Fab Four gigs in some of Liverpool"s more upscale clubs before they hit it big in 1964.

"Eleanor Rigby" was developed when McCartney and the late George Harrison "used to sit around learning guitar" and listening to the music of Bach.

Before the Beatles disbanded in 1970, they were itching to play in the Soviet Union, "just to play this song," McCartney said, before ripping through "Back in the U.S.S.R." (He finally got his wish, albeit without Harrison, the late John Lennon and Ringo Starr, when he played Moscow"s Red Square on his last tour.)

Devotees in search of rarities were treated to a version of "the first record we ever made " before the Beatles," according to McCartney. "In Spite of All the Danger" was recorded by McCartney, Lennon and Harrison and two other musicians who have since faded into oblivion. The bluesy number bore the imprint of Elvis Presley but wasn"t too shabby for a bunch of English kids in their teens.

Wearing a black jacket with scarlet lapels, a blue shirt, black trousers and two white wristbands that appeared to support the "One" campaign against world poverty, McCartney still maintained the boyish looks that drove millions of female fans wild in the "60s. He admits that he colors his hair, but we should all hope to look half this good in our "60s.

Like his seemingly ageless contemporary, Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones (who play Glendale on Sunday), McCartney still clearly feeds off the adulation of fans who are reliving key moments of their youth at his shows. McCartney made frequent eye contact with concertgoers in the first 30 rows, winking or flashing a thumbs-up to particularly enthusiastic fans. He joked about how signs like one that said, "All We Need Is Paul" are appreciated but can sometimes be distracting as he"s trying to remember lyrics, and he bragged about "Good Day Sunshine" being used to wake up astronauts on a mission of the space shuttle Discovery.

McCartney still hits 95 percent of the high notes -- and there were some very high ones in the Beatles" catalog.

His ability to nail those notes and transport listeners back to the "60s with live renditions of "Penny Lane," "I Will," "Please Please Me" and "Magical Mystery Tour" remains stunning. If you"re waiting for McCartney to start sounding old and shrivel from the stage, it may be a while.

McCartney showed the strains of an extended tour on the new "Jenny Wren," a sort of extension of the Beatles" "Blackbird," which he also performed. His voice occasionally cracked and faded on the new tune"s falsetto parts, as well as on some high notes during 1967"s "Fixing a Hole," but these are minor complaints.

For the overwhelming majority of this concert, the good-natured McCartney -- who also received solid backing from guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian May as well as drummer Abe Laborial -- did more than enough to make those who bought his rather pricey tickets feel that they had received their money"s worth.

Set list:

"Magical Mystery Tour"
"Flaming Pie"
"I"ll Get You"
"Drive My Car"
"Till There Was You"
"Let Me Roll It" (With snippet of Jimi Hendrix"s "Foxy Lady")
"Got to Get You Into My Life"
"Fine Line"
"Maybe I"m Amazed"
"The Long and Winding Road"
"In Spite of All the Danger" (a pre-Beatles song)
"I Will"
"Jenny Wren"
"For No One"
"Fixing a Hole"
"English Tea"
"I"ll Follow the Sun"
"Follow Me"
"Eleanor Rigby"
"Too Many People"
"She Came in Through the Bathroom Window"
"Good Day Sunshine"
"Band on the Run"
"Penny Lane"
"I"ve Got a Feeling"
"Back in the U.S.S.R."
"Hey Jude"
"Live and Let Die"

First encore:

"Get Back"
"Helter Skelter"

Second encore:

"Please Please Me"
"Let It Be"
"Sgt. Pepper"s Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)"
"The End"

Years gain on Sir Paul, but it matters not a bit
By Cathalena E. Burch

After almost every song he sang Wednesday night, Paul McCartney did this little victory dance of sorts.He jabbed his guitar - or fist if he had been playing his baby grand piano - in the air, then did this little twisty move that involved his hips and legs. Or he would twist a few steps in either direction. He mixed it up a bit; twist, jab, jog a few steps in place.

It was unabashedly dorky, and no doubt the aging rock legend knew it. But it didn't matter; he's Paul McCartney. He represents an era in music that's gone forever, except when he packs his tour bus every few years and graces a stage to remind us of those good ol' days. He reminded us plenty on Wednesday, delivering a feast of music that we were oh-so-thankful for. And we gobbled it up as if we were famished, 18,000 of us packed tightly into the sold-out Glendale Arena. We were thankful that Sir Paul stood on that stage and didn't let a little thing like age stop him. He turned 63 in June and he's starting to look his age: His jowls are starting to sag, and wrinkles gently crease his eyes. His voice isn't as virile as it used to be; you could hear him strain to make vocal sense of "Jenny Wren" off his new album, "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard," arguably his best record in years.

His voice was bare and thin, and there was nothing he could do to disguise it, even though he tried to write it off as being distracted by folks waving signs trying to get his attention.
But none of that mattered when he sang his Wings-era song "Let Me Roll It" in a bluesy voice that erased all signs of weakness.

It was magical in a way that's hard to put into words; there was a sense that the legend of the man was far bigger than the man. Perhaps that comes from the many hats McCartney wears: solo artist, band leader (Wings) and Beatle. He spent the 3 1/2-hour show trying to do justice to all of those roles, and succeeded beyond expectations. His set list dips judiciously into his Beatles repertoire, his solo career and the decade he spent fronting Wings with his late wife, Linda. He performed such classics as "Magical Mystery Tour," "Eleanor Rigby," "Good Day Sunshine," "Band on the Run" and "Follow Me." Hues of blue and green lights sparkled in the darkened arena during several songs as audience members whipped out cell phones and waved them in the air when he sang "Yesterday," "Maybe I'm Amazed," "The Long and Winding Road" and "Hey Jude." They wanted to share the experience with friends who couldn't make it. Hearing McCartney sing on a cell phone pales in comparison to experiencing him live. When the fans weren't screaming themselves hoarse, they were singing along.
The chorus of their voices echoed eerily on "Penny Lane"; those same voices created a blanket of harmony on "Let It Be," making the song oddly surreal and comforting. McCartney did two encores - six songs in all including "Get Back," "Helter Skelter" and "Please Please Me". When he was about to do the final song, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)"/ "The End," McCartney had to beg the audience to leave. "There does come a time when we actually have got to go," he said, his voice sounding tired.Then Sir Paul did a well-deserved little victory dance and took his final bow.