By Peter Mongillo
Editor’s note: This article was originally published May 23, 2013
Two songs into the first of two shows at the Erwin Center, Paul McCartney announced, "we are going to have a party here tonight."
For three hours on Wednesday night, McCartney fueled that party with a mix of hits from his days with the Beatles and his later career with Wings, showing off his skill as a writer of both simple, poignant ballads and more complex rock pieces.
With McCartney it isn’t so much a question of what songs he will play — his setlist remains mostly the same across a tour, and is widely available online — but how he will play them. He was all smiles on the swinging opener "Eight Days A Week" (with a somewhat strange series computer-generated bubbles on the screen); that Beatles staple stood in contrast to "Junior’s Farm," with its big guitar solo and dramatic climax.
The band shined on a bright, punchy "All My Loving" and the soulful arena blues of "Let Me Roll It." They followed that song with a tease of Jimi Hendrix’s "Foxy Lady," after which McCartney told the story of how it was "one of the biggest tributes" he ever received when the late guitarist covered "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band" just two days after they released the album.
"Paperback Writer" made a perfect racket with McCartney on the guitar used to record the song; he took to the piano for the new song "My Valentine," a theatrical "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five," "The Long and Winding Road" and "Maybe I’m Amazed," which he restarted and still left the crowd alternating between singalong and awe.
An acoustic "I’ve Just Seen a Face" released some tension, as did an uplifting "We Can Work It Out," which featured keyboardist Paul Wickens on the accordion. More acoustic McCartney: "Another Day;" "And I Love Her;" "Blackbird," with Paul alone atop a platform, explaining that he likes that so many people learn to play it on guitar ("how cool is that for me?").
There were more psychedelic moments, with McCartney behind his brightly painted piano on "Your Mother Should Know." ""All Together Now" had the entire 12,500-person crowd singing, as did "Lovely Rita" (making its live debut on this tour) and "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da." "Band on the Run" drew huge applause as McCartney led the group into the main section of the operatic Wings hit; "Let It Be" found him leading something of a religious meeting, with the band joining in on haunting harmony.
If you are going to the show Thursday and do not want too many spoilers, stop reading: "Live and Let Die" was a blazing piece of pyrotechnics, with giant flames and fireworks accompanying Sir Paul as he crashed down on the piano keys. The set closed with an equally moving "Hey Jude," again inspiring a 12,000-person singalong.
Of course, that was not the end — the band returned quickly for a punchy trio of "Day Tripper," "Hi, Hi, Hi" and a triumphant "Get Back." Another quick return yielded "Yesterday," and a raucous "Helter Skelter," with searing guitar work and drummer Abe Laboriel wreaking havoc. And, finally, the "Abbey Road" medley of "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight" and "The End" — a predictable conclusion, but like the rest of the night, a big, joyous trip.
Eight Days a Week
All My Loving
Listen to What the Man Said
Let Me Roll It
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
The Long and Winding Road
Maybe I’m Amazed
I’ve Just Seen a Face
We Can Work It Out
And I Love Her
Your Mother Should Know
All Together Now
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Hi, Hi, Hi
Carry That Weight