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Sir Paul: Getting Better All the Time

You might as well know upfront that this is going to be a very biased review of the recent Paul McCartney concert. You see, I was raised on the Beatles–my Uncle David, a teenager when I was born-convinced me very early on in my life that he was the “fifth Beatle.” I would listen in awe, as he would point out his contributions of “Yeah, yeah, yeah!” on various singles, followed by explanations of why he was never in any pictures with the rest of the band. Even though I eventually (read: years later) realized that I was not in fact related to any of the band members, my love for the Beatles continued to grow as I got older.

So fast-forward about twenty years, and there I was, frantically calling every Ticketmaster number I could find, while simultaneously launching six Web browsers to try and get tickets to the Paul McCartney concert at the FleetCenter the second they went on sale. Miracle of miracles, I was able to get through and buy tickets online, securing a spot for my fianc‚ and I to see one of the two remaining Beatles live in concert. I actually ended up offering my ticket to my uncle, but he couldn’t get out to Boston that weekend. So Uncle Dave, this review’s for you!

We had awesome seats in the 13th row looking directly at the stage. However, when we walked into the sold-out stadium, I started wondering if we were at the right concert. Before us was what looked like a Cirque du Soleil performance gone horribly wrong. There were all of these freaky people in costumes, on stilts, flipping around, waving flags, running around the stadium floor and dancing to some sort of techno music-but no Paul. Luckily, minutes later a huge white screen lit up and the silhouette of the “Cute One” with guitar in hand had the crowd on its feet in no time.

The main thing I had been wondering about the concert was whether or not Paul was going to play “old stuff” or “new stuff.” While he did mix in a few recent songs such as “Vanilla Sky” and the 9/11 tribute “Freedom,” the overwhelming majority of songs were Beatles hits, with a few Wings tunes such as “Band on the Run” thrown in for good measure.

Complementing the several Fab Four songs such as “All My Loving” and “Can’t Buy Me Love” were video clips of Beatles’ movies, tours and screaming fans in the 60s, displayed on several huge screens nearly spanning the length of the stage and height of the stadium.

Highlights of the night included tributes to John Lennon (“Here Today”) and George Harrison (“Something,” played on a ukulele given to Paul by George). Paul’s fianc‚e Heather Mills was in the audience, and he dedicated a song to her as well. Additionally, a few songs that Paul claimed had never been played live before this tour, such as “Getting Better,” were big hits with the crowd.

Two encores topped off the night, including fan favorites like “Yesterday,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” and “Sgt. Pepper.” And yes, of course, he played “Hey Jude.” Perhaps what struck me most about this concert was that nearly every generation was represented in the crowd, and absolutely everyone was having a fantastic time. Sure, we have some mega-stars coming out of our generation, but can we really see ourselves dancing at a concert with both our parents and our children to the likes of these entertainers 20 years from now? I doubt it. For that reason and many others, I am quite sure that the Paul McCartney concert was one of the best shows I will ever see in my lifetime-even if my Uncle David wasn’t there as a back-up singer.

April 29, 2002
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