Some things, like good wine, get better with age. The same could be said of Paul McCartney.
At 79, McCartney, one of only two living Beatles, has shown through his unwavering spirit, soaring voice and polished guitar stabs that he’s still alive and that rock ‘n’ roll isn’t dead. The entertainer dazzled a packed Camping World stadium for nearly three hours filled with classics on Saturday night.
Joined by his touring band – Paul “Wix” Wickens on keyboards, Brian Ray on bass and guitar, Rusty Anderson on guitar and Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums – McCartney showed his talent as a multi-instrumentalist and singer while singing hits such as “I Can’t Buy Love”, “Maybe I’m Amazed”, “Lady Madonna” and “Hey Jude”.
Despite having decades of experience under his belt, the larger-than-life musician has at times given a humble and more vulnerable side. McCartney easily recalled that the Beatles started small and were perhaps unlikely heroes when they emerged into the world of rock.
“Now we’re going to take you back through the mists of time, to Liverpool where four guys formed a band and did well,” he said between songs. “At the time, we were just a small group of musicians and it was hard to get noticed.”
In a more stripped-back part of the set that recalled the band’s early days, McCartney performed “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” a 1965 track that has notes from Beatles contemporaries Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.
At one point, McCartney stopped to scan the crowd for handwritten signs, picking out a few to read aloud.
“I’m married… But I want to hold your hand,” read one sign.
“I missed prom to see you,” read another.
“Well, are you having fun?” the interpreter questioned the young fan. The answer was a resounding yes from the entire audience. Illuminated Faces revealed a multi-generational coalition of fans, serving as a reminder of how timeless and important Beatles music is to so many people, regardless of age.
Throughout the set, skilled musicians helped create harmonies and accentuate McCartney’s prowess on stage, which was enhanced by a production with stunning pyrotechnics, lighting and graphics. A three-piece horn section even joined in for a number of songs.
About halfway through the show, the rest of the band disappeared from the stage, leaving only McCartney and his acoustic guitar. From a slowly rising stage, the singer’s voice and notes echoed throughout the stadium in a chilling performance of “Blackbird” followed by “Here Today,” a tribute to John Lennon.
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The concert featured some pleasant surprises, like a ukulele intro for “Something” and a fiery demo during “Live and Let Die.” The crowd’s energy intensified with the band as the audience joined in singing popular tunes, “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and “Get Back”.
There was a palpable flow of emotion and a collective exhale in the crowd during a soaring rendition of “Let It Be”, as the stadium lit up like the cosmos with the twinkling of cellphone lights.
The band closed the set with everyone chanting in unison, “Na-na-na, na, Hey Jude.” Pure joy and happiness emanated from the stage and the seats.
As if 30 songs weren’t enough, McCartney and his band of musicians returned with six more songs, waving Ukrainian, American, British, Florida and rainbow flags as they returned to the stage for their encore.
After jamming to “Helter Skelter” and “Carry That Weight,” the band closed their nearly three-hour performance with “The End.” But there was a strong suggestion that this isn’t the last we’ll see of Paul McCartney.
“All that’s left to say is – We’ll see you next time,” McCartney said as he left the stage, confetti and fireworks bursting above the crowd.