“I’m going to take a moment just to drink it all in,” Paul McCartney said Sunday night as he looked out on some 50,000 people in front of him in a sold-out Dodger Stadium, the venue where he performed 48 years earlier with the Beatles.
This time, McCartney spent considerably more time onstage than he, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr had on Aug. 28, 1966, when they banged out 11 songs in right around 30 minutes. That was their penultimate public concert performance, after which they retired from touring and focused on their work in the recording studio.
FOR THE RECORD
An earlier version of this post identified one of the guitarist in Paul McCartney's touring band as Brian May. He is Brian Ray.
McCartney opened with “Eight Days a Week,” but kept going for nearly three hours, performing three dozen more songs from across a career that’s now spanned more than half a century. He immediately fast forwarded to “Save Us,” one of the rockers from his 2013 album, “New,” from which he also drew the bouncy title track as well as “Queenie Eye” as if to remind fans his considerable catalog doesn’t begin and end with this Beatles and Wings hits.
Three songs overlapped with the 1966 Dodger Stadium set: “Day Tripper,” “Paperback Writer” and “Yesterday,” the latter saved for an encore segment that added six more songs to the already generous 31 songs in the regular portion. (And yes, we’re counting the “Abbey Road” closing medley of “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End” as one song.)
The 72-year-old musician, as usual, took no intermission break and rarely paused, except to share a few anecdotes between songs. He showed no signs of being any worse for wear from the recent bout with the flu that forced him to postpone shows in Japan and South Korea as well as some dates from the start of the U.S. leg of his "Out There" tour.
His band of many years — guitarists Brian Ray and Rusty Anderson, keyboardist Paul Wickens and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. — lent impeccable support throughout the evening. The crowd encompassed concertgoers from preschool age into their 70s, testifying to the cross-generational appeal of McCartney's music.
After “Back in the USSR,” which likely prompted questions from many of the youngest attendees to their parents ("What’s a USSR?") McCartney talked of his incredulity of performing in Moscow’s Red Square back in 2003, a revolutionary change given the long opposition in the former Soviet Union to Western rock music.
“I was talking to the defense minister — the defense minister! — and he said, with McCartney adopting a thick Russian accent, “First record I ever bought was ‘Love Me Do.’” He said another high government official told him, “We learned to speak English from Beatles records. Hello goodbye!”
As has been the case with his shows in the last several years, he verbally and musically saluted his two bandmates who died, singing Lennon’s “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” and Harrison’s “Something” this time out.
A full report on McCartney’s concert will appear later today and in Tuesday’s Calendar.
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