Paul McCartney - The US Tour 2005

25.11.2005, Las Vegas, NV; "MGM Grand Hotel"



Paul McCartney's rare approach to song selection at the MGM Grand

John Katsilometes
Paul McCartney periodically embarks on "get back" adventures. He did it in the late-'60s with the Beatles, he did it early in his solo career, and again in 1999 with "Run Devil Run," an album populated with oldies McCartney grew up with.

The 2005 version of McCartney's road show stopped at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Friday for the first of two performances. For the sellout crowd of 14,500 it was another "get back" project, as the characteristically strong-voiced McCartney and his quartet of backing musicians dipped as deep as possible into Sir Paul's seemingly limitless Beatles, Wings and solo catalog.

Yes, he played "Yesterday." But he also fastened the jumper cables to "I'll Get You," a 1963 off track from the earliest days of the Beatles that has never been considered a McCartney song (it was originally sung by John Lennon). Other rare gems in the 2 1/2-hour show included:

"Flaming Pie": The title track off his 1996 album, which followed the Beatles "Anthology" CDs. That was the night's second song, after "Magical Mystery Tour."

"In Spite of all the Danger": The first recording by the Quarry Men (who would become the Beatles), in the summer of 1958. The then five-piece band of teenagers recorded two songs in a makeshift recording studio in Liverpool (the other song recorded that day was Buddy Holly's "That'll Be The Day"). It's the only song credited to McCartney and George Harrison, but oddly most of the crowd was familiar enough with this long-lost rarity to follow along with the lyrics.

"'Til There Was You": A "smoochy" song picked from the "Music Man," avid fans will know that this 1963 cover was performed by the Beatles that year at the Royal Command Performance.

"Too Many People/She Came in Through the Bathroom Window": Where "Ram" meets "Abbey Road." The front end of this curious medley is from the 1971 Wings album, the latter on Side 2 of the Beatles' great final (recorded) album.

"Helter Skelter": I had read that McCartney had been playing this White Album noisefest on the current tour but I didn't believe it until it crashed in during the first of two encores (following "Yesterday" and "Get Back"). Not my favorite, but give McCartney credit for pulling off the song's excruciating vocals.

What was missing? A lot. No room for favorites from past tours, "Here, There and Everywhere," "I Saw Her Standing There," "Can't By Me Love," or "All My Loving." And a suggestion to anyone who has a hand in the next tour's set list: Pull out "Biker Like an Icon" from 1993's "Off The Ground" to test fans' McCartney acumen. Or patience.


All McCartney, all day:

No Grand illusion: The McCartney shows capped a monthlong rock 'n' roll festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. November saw U2, the Rolling Stones and McCartney roll through the Emerald City.

Synopsis: U2 brought the most electrifying show -- more revival than rock concert (I needed 14 hours of sleep after that one). The Stones were great, as usual, but are toeing the line of becoming a parody of themselves (blocking Keith Richards from the microphone stand would help solve that problem).

As for McCartney, who takes a backseat to no one, he brought a casual humility to the stage that was absent from the superstars who preceded him in Vegas ("humble" is not the first word to describe Bono or Mick Jagger). He relayed several self-effacing anecdotes, and after the new song "Jenny Wren," off of "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard," explained his difficulty staying on task onstage.

"I see these signs fans bring to the show and I don't want to look, especially with a new song. I'm concentrating on the chords, on the lyrics ... focus, focus, focus. But there's a little voice that says, 'Go ahead! Look at the sign!' So I look at the sign and it says, 'My Mom Saw You At Candlestick Park in 1966.' Aargh!" ...

Signs of age: One well-crafted message from the audience: "Sir Paul: We Still Love You And We'll Still Need You When You're 64." McCartney turns 64 in June; he has said in interviews that his kids have advised him to "leave the planet" when that happens ...

Whither celebs? Past McCartney shows in Vegas attracted assorted celebrities -- I crossed paths with Ozzy Osbourne in '02 -- but there were scant sightings Friday. But I did spot Tropicana afternoon illusionist Rick Thomas doing the hippy-hippy shake on floor level ...

Adventurous lyrics: The new song "English Tea" features the line "peradventure we might play." McCartney said he wrote the line, then checked a dictionary to be sure "peradventure" is actually a word. It is -- meaning possibly, maybe, perhaps. "So impress your friends!" McCartney said. "Go out to the casino -- peradventure red, peradventure black ..."