I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you all before, but Paul McCartney is the first musician I fell truly, deeply, madly in love with. Original, I know.
Of course, I thought I felt the same way about Joey McIntire but that love was short-lived. Clearly, that was just a crush.
But Paul? He’s owned my heart for decades.
My mom is mostly to thank. As a child of the ’60s, clearly she was a big Beatles fan, so I sort of always remember Beatles songs just being played around the house (well, in between The Carpenters, naturally). And she fully and properly indoctrinated me by taking me to a Paul McCartney show at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia when I was 15 or 16. I tried to dig up the photo of me from that show but I can’t find it anywhere. You’ll just have to trust me.
That concert, which I believe was my fourth concert ever (behind NKOTB, Milli Vanilli and Eric Clapton/Elton John) was also the first time I cried at a concert. I can’t remember a lot of things in life, but I can so vividly remember crying my eyes out to “Let It Be,” and all of the stained glass windows and Christianity images on the big screens behind Paul. I’m not even Catholic.
It was a beautiful moment.
Not only was the concert great but our seats were AMAZING. My mom had a friend that worked at Ticketmaster who in those pre-Internet days could set a couple seats aside (I’m pretty sure we still paid for them), so we were on the floor, less than 10 rows from the front. Baller.
My second Paul show was when I was living in DC after college, and I went with one of my best friends Matt. We also had amazing seats (club level this time, right next to the stage) and once again I cried (sadly I can’t remember which song I cried to. What’s the difference between my memory at 15 and my memory at 23? Booze).
We first heard Paul (do you like how we’re on a first-name basis?) was coming to Orlando when we were in Atlanta for the Final Four. In fact, it was when we were stopped in the woods on our hike and I was looking at my phone and I may have screamed out loud, temporarily terrifying DadJovi because he thought it was another snake.
There was no question that we were going to go, especially since DadJovi had never seen him live and I’ve been
annoying telling him for 10 years that he HAS to. But I already knew our tickets would be nowhere as good as my first two shows. I was right.
Listen, as you know, I love going to concerts. And I’m used to high ticket prices. But these ones? Wowza. The day they went on sale, we started pricing some of the good seats, and well, we just weren’t going to drop $400-$500 to go see him, especially since we’d just dropped a lot to buy pit tickets to the Americana Festival (featuring my greatest loves Wilco!) later this summer.
So, we settled on the nosebleed seats, which were still $60 a ticket. That’s OK. I know Paul and the rest of the Lads have/had a long had an appreciation for their fans in the cheap seats. This is one of my favorite ever Beatles moments. Skip ahead to :52 in the video.
Before the show, we hit the Magic Grille right outside Amway to grab some food/snacks. It was also my third consecutive day of hanging out with my friend A. We joked that we were pretty much married by this point.
I wasn’t feeling great but they strong-armed me into ordering a drink, so I went with a Captain and Ginger. That’s how I knew my sickness was arriving — I could hardly even drink it. By the time we headed in for the show, I could barely even swallow (TWSS).
But a good fan must soldier on.
Paul really knows how to set the mood. When you arrive at most concerts, the house speakers are just playing whatever music they happen to have on repeat. Not at a Paul show. From the time you hit the concourses, you start hearing Beatles, Wings and Paul songs playing throughout.
Our excitement was growing by the minute. Finally, at about 8:30, the lights when down and Paul sauntered out on stage. He said a little hello (how is it possible that he still sounds like that young lad from Liverpool?) and immediately started rocking, opening the show with “Eight Days a Week.”
So yeah, he was just a little bit away. Didn’t matter. His energy encompassed everyone in the arena.
And yes, it only took until the third song for me to cry. It was “All My Loving,” and as he sang, they were playing classic videos of the Beatles being chased by mobs of girls through the London streets. It really is just trippy to sit there listening to him singing these songs, knowing that he was part of the greatest, most revolutionary and game-changing band of all time.
And he still kicks ass.
Sometimes, it was just swirls or bouncing dots behind him (“All Together Now”) or even a series of naughty nurse drawings (“Paperback Writer.”) Usually, though, it was photos or videos. For “Something,” his tribute to George Harrison which he broke out a ukelele for, there were dozens of photos of George, from the earliest days of the Beatles up through the end of his life (and then I cried again). My favorite montages were during “Lady Madonna” and “Your Mother Should Know” (which I’d never heard him perform before — it was amazing). Each of these songs were filled with awesome ladies — Mother Teresa, Marilyn Monroe, Amelia Earhart, etc. for Lady Madonna, and famous mums for “Your Mother Should Know” — Jackie O., Michelle Obama, Queen Elizabeth and of course, mom-to-be Kate Middleton. It also included pictures of the Beatles as babies with their mums.
The oddest video display, perhaps, though, came during “Maybe I’m Amazed,” his tribute to his late wife Linda. Instead of pictures of Linda, he included a video that had hand-drawings of photos Linda took of Paul with their kids. I told DadJovi if I ever die that my memorial montage should be pictures of ME, not ones I took.
Now all of you are my witnesses.
There were a few HUGE highlights for me at the show. One was when Paul played “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” — it was the first time (well, other than the night before) that a Beatle had played the song live. And he pulled out all the trippy lasers, just for the occasion.
I just couldn’t stop laughing and smiling during this song. So freaking rad.
He also played “Lovely Rita,” which I think may have also been a first for this tour. This is what makes a Paul McCartney show so great — he plays everything you’ve ever wanted to hear … and more. I’ll never forgive Madonna for the time I saw her in around 2001 or 2002 and the ONLY classic Madonna songs she played were a Spanish-version of “La Isla Bonita” and “Holiday.” I was so angry at her.
Another highlight was the most ass-kicking version of “Live and Let Die” I’ve ever seen. There was fire!
Actually, a whole row of Wizard of Oz-style flame flumes.
And Paul OWNING a piano.
It was a spectacular spectacle.
Hot damn, can you believe he’s 71?
And I kept waiting and waiting for what is almost always my favorite part of any Paul show, “Band on the Run.” This is one of those songs that I would hate if I had only ever heard it on the radio or on a CD. But the first time I saw it live, it entered into my heart and soul and I will forever love it so hard.
OK, I’m almost done with the gushing.
So what did my non-Paul obsessed husband think about his first show? He loved it, especially “Helter Skelter” and “We Can Work It Out.”
What we both also LOVED was the anecdotes that Paul would sprinkle throughout the show. He told great stories about Jimi Hendrix playing “Sgt. Pepper” live before the Beatles did, just three days after the record was released, George Harrison learning to play the ukelele and writing “Blackbird” during the Civil Rights movement in the South.
And before we were ready to say good-bye, but THREE HOURS after the show began, Paul was saying good-by to us with a song you know was just written to close down a great show: “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End.”
Of course, every time Paul croons, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make,” I can’t help but think of Chris Farley (Google it if you’ve never seen the clip; it’s hysterical). But it is one of the simplest, most heartfelt lyrics in song history. And it’s one of the reasons I love the Beatles most — it’s true, all you need is love.
And Sir Paul, I’ll love you forever and ever.
Until next time.
Which artist do you truly, madly deeply love? What’s your favorite Beatles song?