Paul McCartney – SoFi Stadium – Los Angeles – May 13, 2022
An instant sell out, on Friday May 13th at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, Paul McCartney’s “Got Back” stadium tour landed in town, with the enthusiastic crowd, numbering first, second and third generation fans in worshipful glee at the altar of their celebrated musical idol.
Adrian Bourgeois, 34, a resident of downtown LA, enthuses “Tonight I’m at my tenth Paul McCartney concert – 11th if you count the time I couldn’t get a ticket to Dodgers Stadium and instead listened to the entire show in my car in the stadium parking lot) – and I’ve brought along my sister Corey for her first! You’d think after so many times, the thrill would have died down even a little… but ‘oh that magic feeling…’ ‘climb on the back and we’ll go for a ride in the sky.’ Suffice to say, like a kid on Christmas Eve, I could barely get to sleep last night!”
Opening with an electrifying rendition of The Beatles’ 1964 chart topper “Can’t Buy Me Love,” McCartney, playing his trademark Hofner bass, rode on waves of Beatlemania-like hysteria emanating from the SRO crowd. A double shot of ‘70s era Wings magic follows with “Junior’s Farm,” and “Letting Go” before dipping back into Beatles’ 1966 Revolver album with “Got To Get You Into My Life.” The addition of a three-piece brass section, the “Hot City Horns,” for those prior two songs was a splendid touch, and their appearance on other songs in the set elevated the material.
Given it’s only a few shows into the tour, one would expect some musical rust for this outfit, yet Paul and his band have clearly knocked off the cobwebs of the self-imposed COVID-19 two year plus hiatus from playing shows delivering the songs with laser like precision and power.
Winding his way through the Beatles and Wings songbooks with a generous selection of more recent material, (“Come on to Me,” “New,” “My Valentine,“ “Dance Tonight,” “Fuh You”) the show’s well-thought out visuals employing cutting edge technology used for the stage giant screens, a combination of colorful lasers, photographs and video and textural backdrops, was particularly impressive and helped enhance the connection and communion of deep love between an artist and his audience. Mad love more like it, a well spring of positivity witnessed by the legions of mile wide smiles plastered on the faces of the crowd.
Backed by the same talented band he’s had for two decades – guitarist Rusty Anderson, keyboardist Wix, multi-instrumentalist Brian Ray and Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums – in concert, Macca and his colleagues offer a smorgasbord of musical riches. They navigate through all phases of Paul’s landmark career – The Beatles, Wings and as a solo artist.
At nearly age 80, Paul McCartney is a marvel, a musical wunderkind. Brandishing his Hofner bass, playing electric guitar, lead guitar, acoustic guitar, ukulele or jumping to piano, McCartney’s musical abilities are peerless. Early on, Macca subbed bass for electric guitar for a string of numbers including “Getting Better” and “Let Me Roll It” – with its outro showcasing a short jam on Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady.” After the song, McCartney showered the late guitarist with praise – calling him “very humble and a fantastic guitar player that took London by storm,” sharing stories of Hendrix playing a live version of “Sgt. Pepper” a few days after the album’s official release.
McCartney’s extraordinary musical catalog shined throughout the three-hour marathon performance, demonstrating his virtuosic musicality and almost supernatural talent as one of the most important and groundbreaking songwriters of the past 100 years.
Throughout the three-hour show, it’s clear that McCartney, who more than any of his fellow Beatles reveled in the thrill of live performance, is in his sweet spot on center stage. It’s that sense of joy and wonderment in a live setting that makes a McCartney concert such a deeply rewarding experience for concertgoers.
An acoustic interlude was a nice change of pace essaying the Beatles’ first UK hit “Love Me Do,” “In Spite of All The Danger,” (an early pre-Beatles collaboration with George Harrison flavored with echoes of Elvis’s 50s chestnut “Trying To Get To You”), “We Can Work It Out”, “Blackbird” and “Dance Tonight,” from 2007’s Memory Almost Full album.
Heartfelt tributes to his fallen Beatles comrades resonated with pure emotion; “Here Today” culled from Paul’s George Martin produced Tug of War album is Paul’s musical letter in song about partner John Lennon and a delicate ukulele reading of George Harrison’s “Something” (featuring an array of photographs striking Beatles era images of Paul and George) of were among the highlights of a night filled with them.
While the beloved ”Yesterday” and “The Long and Winding Road” did not make an appearance in the show, the last few songs of the main set truly revved the crowd into full blown hysteria. They included “Get Back,” (sporting a compendium of January 1969 footage of The Beatles in the studio and atop the Apple Records assembled by Get Back filmmaker Peter Jackson) the Wings classic “Band On The Run,” and an elegiac reading of “Let It Be,” with the massive stadium holding up their cell phone and lighting up the venue. Macca commented that “the place lights up like a galaxy of stars.”
In terms of sheer stadium rock spectacle, “Live and Let Die” came next and was epic, its light and shade dynamics exploding with a fusillade of fireworks, explosions and flames that would make KISS green with envy. From there the main set wound up with “Hey Jude,” its infectious na-na-na coda riding on the voices of thousands joyfully singing along with the Liverpudlian music master.
Returning to the stage for the encore, Paul waving a large Ukrainian flag in solidarity, other band members wielding other flags including the State Of California, Paul and band kicked into overdrive with “I’ve Got A Feeling.” The deft use of the Peter Jackson’s refurbished Let It Be rooftop isolated footage of John Lennon singing the bridge with Paul lending answering vocals was a beautiful moment, tears and joy emanating from the crowd.
The show climaxed with The White Album perennial “Birthday” and a mind peeling “Helter Skelter,” which clearly signaled the birth of grunge music decades earlier, before closing with a spectacular rendering of the Abbey Road suite medley, “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight” and “The End,” (Paul trading off scorching lead guitar lines with Anderson and Ray). It served as the perfect finale with the poignant lines, “and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make” ringing in the ears of concertgoers.
Can’t Buy Me Love / Junior’s Farm / Letting Go / Got To Get You Into My Life / Come On To Me / Let Me Roll It / Getting Better / Let ‘Em In / My Valentine / Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five / Maybe I’m Amazed / We Can Work It Out / In Spite Of All The Danger / Love Me Do / Dance Tonight / Blackbird / Here Today / New / Lady Madonna / Fuh You / Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite! / Something / Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da / You Never Give Me Your Money / She Came In Through The Bathroom Window / Get Back / Band On The Run / Let It Be / Live and Let Die / Hey Jude
I’ve Got A Feeling / Birthday / Helter Skelter / Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End
Copyright ©2022 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 14, 2022.
Photos © 2022 MJ Kim. Courtesy of MPL Communications Ltd. All rights reserved.