Last August tickets went on sale for a concert by Paul McCartney at the Bon Secours Wellness Center in Greenville. I tried and tried to get tickets, but they were completely sold out within minutes. I told Laura about my failure. What I DIDN’T tell her was that I was able to go back online later that evening and get tickets that had been resold through Ticketmaster only a little more than it would have cost if I’d been successful the first time. These would be her birthday present.
Fast forward a few months…
The date finally arrived. Laura and I were both excited about seeing Paul McCartney. I even managed to forget about a music gig I had Thursday afternoon until it was too late. Oops. It was a rehearsal and I apologized profusely, stating that the musical portion of my brain seemed to be pre-occupied.
The stars just seemed to align and everything fell into place. Parking was easy and relatively cheap at $6. The spot we found in the parking garage was right at the sidewalk and a few quick steps down to the arena. I don’t even think the VIP spaces were as good as what we found.
We joined a growing line of people. Yeah, it was mostly an older crowd. I commented to Laura that I hadn’t seen this many canes, walkers, and oxygen tanks since we had visited her mother’s memory care facility.
The line spread out into multiple lines for each door. We were about 10th from the entrance.
Once the doors opened things went very smoothly. Our seats were just a few steps from the main entrance. They were in the upper tier and to the side, but we were on the front row of that section. There would be no one standing in front of us or blocking our view.
The time for the concert arrived, and the real magic started.
Paul and his band started with some classic Beatles tunes and mixed in a few of his newer pieces. The experience was simply…incredible. His musicianship, moving from instrument to instrument, was truly amazing. The band he plays with now was equally talented. The drummer especially had charisma.
The concert ran the gamut of McCartney’s legendary career. The visuals accompanying each piece were perfect, ranging from 1960s psychedelia to classic Beatles images to more modern music video styled imagery.
Throughout the show McCartney came across as friendly and humble, sharing an occasional story about his colleagues. Despite there being nearly 20,000 people, it had an almost intimate feel. These were songs you knew and loved and grew up with, sung by the man responsible for them. You could almost imagine a casual conversation or jam session in your own living room with him. Even more amazingly, he maintained that energy for a solid three hours. It was showmanship of a level that defies superlatives, especially for a guy 76 years old.
While all of the songs were great, my favorites were Eleanor Rigby and Blackbird. I had no idea that Blackbird was a Civil Rights song. McCartney said that it was specifically written as a tribute to African American struggles. Now the lyrics make much more sense. You read them and realize, “Of course!”…
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free
McCartney sang one song he had written in memory of John Lennon. He also took a moment to remember George Harrison and play one of his songs, starting on ukulele, then moving to other instruments. Laura and I both thought it odd that he never once mentioned Ringo Starr, although Ringo’s photo showed up many times in all of the videos.
There were sing-along moments with the entire area singing “Hey Jude” and other songs. The big climax was “Live and Let Die”, complete with on-stage fireworks. Standing ovations brought back the band for several encores.
Even though it was late when we got home, we had to re-watch Paul McCartney’s visit to James Cordon’s Carpool Karaoke. It seemed like a fitting way to end the evening. The band in this video is the same band on tour with McCartney for this concert.
The whole evening was a fantastic experience and one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended. It’s the closest we’ll ever get to attending a Beatles concert.
I got to thinking about how Beatles music is woven throughout our lives. Laura grew up with it more than me, and admitted to having a crush on Paul. I just missed Beatlemania by a few years, but still loved the music. Rock and roll was forbidden in our house, so we couldn’t listen to it in the open, so to speak.
However, I think my mother secretly really did like the Beatles, despite my father’s warnings that their music was evil. As a kid, every time we went to the barber she would tell them to give me a “Beatles haircut.” Once when I was a teenager she admitted to me that she thought “Yesterday” was one of the most beautiful songs she had ever heard. We had music books with Lennon-McCartney songs that somehow passed the rock censorship. I learned to play songs like “Michelle” on piano long before I ever heard the actual recording.
This concert brought back just this whole flood of memories, and I think that was one reason why it was so special. Amy gave me a Beatles music book for Christmas, and I’m sure I’m going to spend the whole day with it. Who knows, I may even learn how to play Blackbird on guitar.
This morning’s Greenville News published a list of the songs performed in last night’s concert. They are as follows:
- “A Hard Day’s Night”
- “Junior’s Farm”
- “All My Loving”
- “Letting Go”
- “Who Cares”
- “Got to Get You Into My Life”
- “Come On to Me”
- “Let Me Roll It”
- “I’ve Got a Feeling”
- “Let ‘Em In”
- “My Valentine”
- “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five”
- “Maybe I’m Amazed”
- “I’ve Just Seen a Face”
- “In Spite of All the Danger”
- “From Me to You”
- “Dance Tonight”
- “Love Me Do”
- “Here Today”
- “Queenie Eye”
- “Lady Madonna”
- “Eleanor Rigby”
- “Fuh You”
- “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!”
- “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”
- “Band on the Run”
- “Back in the U.S.S.R.”
- “Let it Be”
- “Live and Let Die”
- “Hey Jude”
- “Helter Skelter”
- “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)”
- “Golden Slumbers”
- “Carry That Weight”
- “The End”