On Sunday, February 9, 1964, 73 million Americans tuned in to watch The Beatles first performance in the U.S. on the Ed Sullivan show! On Monday, July 10th, 2017, at the Amalie Arena, 18,000 people watched former Beatle Paul McCartney, bring his One on One tour to Tampa for its second night on the road. Rain and traffic held the show back by thirty minutes but nobody cared. It is Paul McCartney, rock royalty, living legend, A Beatle!
Opening with a Beatles classic, “A Hard Day’s Night”, Sir Paul, 75, then rocked right into the Wings tune “Junior’s Farm” This is a state of the art lighting and graphics show, one should not expect less from a music pioneer. During the early Quarryman and Beatles part of the show, the stage appeared to look like “The Cavern” where the Beatles played 292 shows from 1961-1963. Taking the audience on a walk down memory lane in so many decades both Beatlesque and solo, it is an emotional journey for music aficionados. People were dancing, singing, waving and there were plenty of tears going on! For some, it was the show of a lifetime!
Paul took a sentimental turn with musical tributes to his current wife Nancy Shevell with his 2012 “My Valentine’ followed by “Maybe I’m Amazed” for his late wife Linda McCartney. Written in 1970, it ranks #347 in the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. There were also tributes to his late Beatle mates John Lennon and George Harrison. Paul talking about the difficulty he and Lennon had in talking about their relationship and not being able to talk to him after he was gone. A touching acoustic version of his 1982 “Here Today”, with McCartney being raised above the crowd in an almost heavenly manner. In his tribute to George, he started with a ukulele that he got from George, who played quite well and then proceeded to pick the uke and sing Harrison’s “Something In the Way She Moves” that morphed into the original rock version as the band joined in with full guitar solo. It was an exquisite tribute to Harrison.
There were several songs from his 2013 album “New” which are great for the diehard fans but the vast majority of the audience are unfamiliar with them and Paul knows it. He quipped, “The place lights up when we play a Beatles song, but when we play the new stuff, it’s a black hole, but we don’t care”. No one minded because you can’t really go wrong with a McCartney song even if you don’t know it. He also threw in his 2015 single with Rhianna and Kanye West titled “FourFiveSeconds”
But it was those Lennon/McCartney Beatles hits and Wings classics they came to hear and he delivered in top fashion. “Band On the Run”, “Back in the USSR” and “OBLA DI OBLA DA” were complete with audience sing-alongs in full voice and hand gestures. “Live and Let Die” from the 1973 Bond film of the same name is a splashy, spectacle complete with pyrotechnics! Anthems “Let It Be’ and “Hey Jude” brought a tear to the eye and memories of a long ago time that baby boomers long to hold onto. McCartney reminds us of that with a poignant acoustic version of “Yesterday”, which was voted the best song of the 20th century.
For “Get Back” Paul brings out a Lakeland family to the stage to sing and dance with him and the band. The young man, Noah, sings with Paul and the audience is yelling and applauding for the next generation of Beatle fan who now has a memory for life of being onstage with a Beatle. It is a fun moment in the show for both the family on stage and the audience. Paul takes an audience poll as to who is from Tampa, from Florida and living here from somewhere else. Interaction with the audience from reading signs to telling stories about riding around in a taxi with John Lennon, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards finds Paul friendly and humorous. There was never a rift between the Beatles and the Stones he says, “Fake News” and gets a big laugh. He gives credit and thanks to the crew of the tour, the band and the audience. His band is phenomenal and energetic.
After 3 hours and over 30 songs he concludes the encore saying it is time to go home with a resounding “NO” from the audience! He has given his all and saved the best for last with Abbey Road’s trilogy “Golden Slumbers/The Weight/The End.
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”….
photos by Vicky Sullivan / Rock the Lens Photography. Set list courtesy of Barbara Strauss