|Sir Paul McCartney at Barclays Center (OnTheRedCarpet.com)
Paul McCartney’s show in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center on Saturday night was not only the best concert I’ve seen in years, it also provided an evening of daddy/daughter bonding that’s so rare as my oldest girl asserts her adolescent independence.
When McCartney opened with “Eight Days a Week,” it was telling how my teenaged daughter screamed her head off in the same way the young girls did when “the cute Beatle” landed at JFK for the first time 50 years ago. And yes, her father screamed right alongside her! For it is a privilege and a pleasure to stand in the same space as a man who has made so much music that means so much to so many people.
It’s sometimes hard to comprehend that one man, the man just over there, is responsible for making this collection of pop rock symphonies that are etched in the crevices of your brain.
The man is charm personified. "Please sign my wife? I can't be signing wives at this stage of my career!" he said in response to one of the many signs that fans held up.
To another: "Did you really name your English bulldog Macca? Why, that’s a nice name for an English bulldog when you think about it."
The hits just tumbled out of him, with fans alternatively shaking their heads in disbelief at the man’s stamina and checking his age on Google searches to confirm that the man in the Cuban boots strapped to a Hofner bass was really pushing 71.
“Let it Be” came in the middle of the set, just when you thought there was nothing he had left to play and nothing he could do to top it. Alas, it was just one stop in a set that clocked in at 2:45.
Unlike other nostalgic acts that trot out the same set lists year after year (hi, Mick!), Macca threw the fans a few curve balls. I never thought I would ever hear my favorite Beatles song “Your Mother Should Know” live (it is a deep track from Magical Mystery Tour), but there it was!
“That was one of my more intellectual songs,” he joked sheepishly after a raucous read of the nursery rhyme-like “All Together Now.” He swiped one from John Lennon’s side of the street, plucking his violin bass on the deliciously rare ditty “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” from Sergeant Pepper.
McCartney’s veteran four-piece band includes Rusty Anderson (guitar, vocals), Brian Ray (guitar and bass when Paul is on piano or guitar), Paul “Wick” Wickens (keyboard), and drummer Abe Laboriel. They’ve been with him since 2001, when they backed him on his solo disc Driving Rain.
The men play like a band in it for the long haul, with chemistry built one gig at a time. Laboriel in particular provided spine-tingling harmonies to the boss (and sometimes gave his aged voice a wee boost).
The stage production was modern, with digital lights on the wall behind him and the floor underneath as well. It conjured up swinging London in the sixties during “All My Loving“ and turned red for “Back in the U.S.S.R.”
The heat from the bombastic pyro on "Live and Let Die" was matched only by the band itself who have an amazing groove after being together for so long at this point. Credit must be given to Wickens, who added textures that matched the studio trickery of Beatles recorded songs; his keyboard morphed into the angry violin strings on a track like “Eleanor Rigby.”
As part of his charm, McCartney told nice stories about meeting the likes of Hendrix in between songs, offering a “gee-whiz I can’t believe my luck” vibe to the banter. He dedicated “Maybe I’m Amazed” to his deceased wife, Linda, and the simple “My Valentine,” an original he wrote to his current wife in last year’s standards album Kisses on the Bottom. Honoring wives past and present onstage is something only a charmer could do!
“And in the end/the love you take/is equal to the love you make,” were the last words sung from the stage, the majestic chords of “The End” ending a concert like no other.
While I was thrilled to share the night with my Beatle freak daughter, I was touched with sadness at the end of the night. She’s only 16, and every concert experience she has after this one will simply not live up to this one. Thank God Sir Paul hasn’t peaked yet!