Paul McCartney - The US Tour 2005

26.10.2005, Saint Paul, MN; "Xcel Energy Center"



Sir Paul takes a lap through great songs
Jon Bream, Star Tribune
Last update: October 27, 2005
In 1965, Bob Dylan went electric with "Like a Rolling Stone." The Rolling Stones sang about getting no satisfaction. And the Beatles made their only Minnesota appearance at Met Stadium in Bloomington.

Forty years later, Dylan, the Stones and Paul McCartney, the most important surviving Beatle, all performed in the Twin Cities -- the first year that has ever happened.

"All three of them in the same year, it's pretty remarkable," Bob Pratt, 51, a Minneapolis grade-school teacher who attended all three shows, said before McCartney's show Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center.

"In 1965 when I saw the Beatles at Met Stadium and the baseball All-Star Game and the World Series, I asked my dad if we could see them again next summer," Pratt recalled. "My dad looked at me: 'I gotta tell you pal that that doesn't happen every summer. That was a special time.' "

So was 2005, said Pratt, who took his 16-year-old son, John, to see "the three pop music icons of the century."

When McCartney took the stage Wednesday, it "sent a shiver down my spine," Pratt said. "I felt like I was in the presence of immortality."

Said John Pratt: "It's almost impossible for me to fathom that one man wrote all of these classic songs."

McCartney performed 37 songs over 2 hours and 40 minutes. It was a marathon that felt like a victory lap. While it was a victorious showcase for the singer-songwriter's deep and rich catalog of songs, it was far from a great concert.

No one expects McCartney, 63, to have the boundless energy of Mick Jagger or the snarly attitude and musical restlessness of Dylan. To be sure, Paul was his usual playful, eternally cute self, hamming it with a little dance here, a quip there and more post-song big bows than Neil Diamond takes.

But this oddly paced nostalgia-fest lacked immediacy and importance. It wasn't nearly as fulfilling or fun as McCartney's similar 2002 concert. Back then, his young band sparked him and the inventive visuals energized the evening and added wow!

By contrast, the band -- the same four guys -- didn't provide much of a spark this time, especially in the first half. However, what did have a spark was McCartney's solo stuff on piano and acoustic guitar.

He dusted off the first song he ever recorded with the pre-Beatles Quarrymen in 1958, "In Spite of All the Danger," a hillbilly with a hiccup number that suggested both Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. Then he alternated Beatle classics with tunes from his commendable new CD, "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard." The oldie "I Will" was as sweet and unassuming as the ensuing new "Jenny Wren," which took on a gypsy-like feel thanks to Paul Wickens' accordion.

It was obvious that McCartney was in a groove for "For No One" and "Fixing a Hole." Even the twee new "English Tea" seemed to fit, especially after the singer explained the arcane word "peradventure" (meaning perhaps) that he used and encouraged everyone to try using it tomorrow.

Oddly, the number that seemed to set up this successful solo sentimentality was the night's unexpected cover, "Til There Was You" from "The Music Man." The Beatles actually recorded it in 1963 and used to play it in cabarets back then. In St. Paul, Sir Paul pulled off this standard (the "smoochy stuff," he called it) with his inimitable mix of sincerity and hamminess. It was a left-field highlight.

After McCartney's solo excursion, he and his band seemed to get in the groove; of course, it helped that the final 75 minutes were pretty much nonstop Beatles classics and other McCartney hits. Wings' "Band on the Run" energized all five musicians and all 18,117 concertgoers. The band rocked out on a raucous "Back in the USSR," a foot-stomping "Get Back" and a suitably chaotic "Helter Skelter." Sandwiched in there was a solo acoustic guitar rendition of "Yesterday" that was undermined by synthesized strings by Wickens.

(Synthesized horn and string parts also detracted from various other hits including the string-smothered "Long and Winding Road" and "Got To Get You Into My Life.")

In the end, when he closed with a medley of "Sgt. Pepper" and "The End," it was clear that McCartney, like an experienced marathoner, had saved his strongest effort for the final stretch. Then he deserved to take a big bow.

No complaints at McCartney's St. Paul show
Paul McCartney's been a busy man as of late, touring and recording at a pace not seen since his Wings days in the '70s.

Where patient fans once had to wait a decade, or more, to see the Cute Beatle on a local concert stage, Wednesday marked McCartney's return to the Xcel Energy Center, a mere three years after his last visit. Even with a top ticket price of $250, seats were long gone for the show, which hit an attendance of 18,117.

Mindful of the expectations that come with such spendy tickets ? and possibly of his own mortality following the deaths of his wife Linda and fellow Beatle George Harrison ? the 63-year-old McCartney turned in a terrifically entertaining and deliberately paced performance that was more a marathon than a sprint.

Of the three-dozen songs he played, more than half dated back to the Beatles, with most of the rest drawn from the Wings era. He tackled each and every one with a grin, winking during choruses and sharing charming anecdotes between them. Dressed simply in jeans, McCartney came across as more of a humble craftsman than the most famous living rock musician in the world.

About a dozen of the expected biggies ? "Hey Jude," "Band on the Run," "Maybe I'm Amazed" ? made a reappearance from his 2002 show.

He also pulled out "In Spite of All the Danger," a song he wrote with Harrison in the late '50s to kick off an extended acoustic guitar/piano set that included "Fixing a Hole," a gorgeous "For No One" and two new tracks ("English Tea," "Jenny Wren") that sound like not-so-distant cousins of McCartney's classics. (The same thing goes for "Fine Line," a piano rocker found on his latest disc, "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.")

It would be easy, but ultimately useless, to complain about what he didn't play. In an evening that featured McCartney's winning renditions of "Jet," "I'll Follow the Sun," "Good Day Sunshine," "Penny Lane," "Live and Let Die," "Yesterday" and "Please Please Me" (among many, many others), complaining about anything doesn't make much sense at all. Here's hoping it'll only take another three years for McCartney to come back again.