But we create our own islands, sometimes. Walking across Detroit, stopping off at a taco stand, enjoying the warm October day in the plaza outside the arena, we had our island. Inside the arena, mash-ups of Beatles songs and covers of Beatles songs helped prepare for Paul McCartney's concert. Paul was 21 when he first toured the United States, playing shows that didn't even last 45 minutes. Last night, at age 75, he played the last US show of the latest tour, playing nearly 40 songs, and after 3 hours he didn't even look tired.
Paul's voice isn't what it once was, but really, who cares? It's plenty good enough.
Nor can Paul really do full justice to John Lennon's songs. But who can?
When McCartney hit the stage wearing a jacket with sergeant stripes that looked like he could have worn it in 1967, we were ready to rock and roll. After ripping through A Hard Day's Night, Paul acknowledged the day and offered to try to bring a bit of joy to the crowd. He followed with Save Us, the first of 3 entries from his excellent 2013 album New, and then straight back to a song that could be an encore for any other mere mortal, Can't Buy Me Love.
All of McCartney's band members have been with him for at least 15 years, and it shows. The show is at once tight and lighthearted, and those of us who have seen Paul over the past two decades have come to appreciate the reliability of this band. There may have been some Wings memorabilia at the merchandise counter, but this band, featuring Brian Ray, Rusty Anderson, Wix Wickens and Abe Laboriel Jr. is musically the best touring band he's ever had. Not that anything can make me forget the Beatles, far from it. But this band is more than good enough to carry the best of the music that Paul wrote half a century ago.
My favorite parts of the show were the departures from the familiar arrangements of songs. You Won't See Me has one of the most awesome rock bass parts I've ever heard, but last night it was transformed in to a gorgeous acoustic-based piece. A man sitting behind us started insisting that it was a Badfinger song, something Paul had written for them 1968 and had given away. When Mr. Badfinger man kept crowing even after the song as to what a great thing it was for Paul to be performing this obscure song, what could I do? I laughed. Enjoy the moment. For the record, Come And Get It was not performed last night.
|Skiffle: In Spite of all the Danger|
Some of Macca's stage shtick has gotten stale for me. I love Blackbird, and it felt poignant last night but I don't think I need to hear the story anymore; the song speaks for itself. Nor is it really necessary to hear the story of how scared he was during the first recording of Love Me Do, nor do I really enjoy being melted by the pyrotechnics accompanying Live And Let Die. And I could probably do without some of the name-dropping, too. He's already Paul McCartney, after all. That said, his Jimmy Hendrix story was pretty funny.
But that's a nit, and more often than not, even the stale shtick was fun. And if that means getting a nice introduction to In Spite Of All The Danger (itself a treat), or to hear Paul take lead on I Wanna Be Your Man, I'm totally good with it. The show culminated with the famous 3-part guitar duel that marked The End, as Brian and Rusty assumed the stage roles of John and George. The closing refrain, "and in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make," didn't seem like much. But in the moment, on our island, it was magic.
|At the Magical Mystery Tour piano for Hey Jude.|