Monday, July 25, 2011

Review: Paul McCartney @ Comerica Park in Detroit, MI, on July 24, 2011

I have a short “bucket list” of Rock bands that I want to see before they (or I) pass on. Sir Paul topped that list. I have always passed whenever he came to town, with reasons as lame as “ehh, too much money”, “maybe next time”, or “it probably won't be any good anyways.” I honestly couldn't believe it when they announced he was coming to a market as depressed as Detroit. I jumped at the chance, scoring the $39.50 seats. We were in section 323, Row 2, and while we were way up and far back, we enjoyed a wholly unobstructed view. The sound in Comerica Park is surprisingly good, especially when you factor in how huge this place is.
Showtime was 8PM according to the tickets, but there was some weird video montage for around a half an hour, likely to help latecomers get in and get to their seats. There was thunder and some sprinkles during the video, and I was dreading the seemingly impending storm. I have heard stories about how rain clears up when the Pope comes out on stage, and the exact same thing happened when Paul and his band came on at 8:30.
Hello, Goodbye started the show off strong, followed by the great Junior's Farm. I couldn't believe how great Paul's voice sounded, how fit and trim he looked at age 69, and how great his entire band sounded. I don't know who any of those cats were, but they were all experts on their instruments. Paul seemed playful with the crowd between songs, making you feel like he actually wanted to be in Detroit. He referred to The Beatles' first and only visit to Detroit at Olympia Stadium before launching into All My Loving. Paul said “I remember it...you don't”, as he pointed to the crowd. His Wings era got some love from Jet, and then he went into another Detroit story before Drive My Car. The cynic in me was thinking Dude, no one likes Detroit, but by the end of that night I believe that he does. Sing the Changes from The Fireman album was up next, and the crowd was polite if unfamiliar with the song. 
Paul told a story of how he toured the Motown Museum that afternoon, and about how much he loved Motown music when he was growing up. He proclaimed the Motown Museum and Detroit 'the Holy Grail' and then said that this was next song was being done especially for Detroit, Hitch Hike by Marvin Gaye. The Night Before by The Beatles was great live, and his band really had the vocal harmonies down pat. I was amazed at how great everything sounded. Let Me Roll It with the Foxy Lady Jimi Hendrix outro was next. Paul told a Hendrix story afterward. It seemed like he was really trying to express how much things meant to him throughout the show, and I felt like he was saying goodbye to everyone with each of these stories. Paperback Writer was brilliant live. I cannot adequately express how great everyone sounded vocally, suffice it to say that I felt like I was in the presence of a space alien or god. It kept hitting me during every Beatles song, my God, this is a Beatle in front of me. I wished that my son was older so that he could see Paul McCartney live in his lifetime. It was around this point in the show that I got a little sad. I came to the realization that we are living in the twilight of the gods. The '60s and '70s had some of the best music ever made, and the old guard that remains is on its way out. What will music be left with when Paul and his peers retire? Blink 182? This was a sobering thought.
Paul went to the piano for The Long and Winding Road, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five, Let 'Em In, and Maybe I'm Amazed. I've Just Seen A Face was another great moment. This concert was one of those life-affirming moments for me, where I just sit back and realize that maybe the world will be ok and life really is good. Music can be a powerful tool and force for good, and this was the best of the best. I Will was pleasant, but it was Paul's speech before Blackbird that really drove a point home. He was talking about how the civil rights movement inspired this song, and you could see that he was really reflecting on his life, on how much the world has changed. It's mind boggling to think about how much this man's music has impacted our culture for generations, and how many changes have happened since these songs were originally released. I wasn't even born when The Beatles broke up, and here I am playing these songs for my kids. That's pretty awesome to think about, that this music has survived this long and will continue to live on long after we are all dead and gone. It made it feel like an honor to be in his presence.
Here Today (John's Eulogy), Dance Tonight, and Mrs. Vanderbilt were up next. Eleanor Rigby was another spine-tingling moment, with the vocal harmonies. Paul told a story about George Harrison and ukeleles, and then proceeded to play Something on a ukelele. The band kicked in during the guitar solo. Band On The Run was great live.  Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da was fun, and after he played Back In The U.S.S.R. Paul told a story about he got to play that song in Red Square, and how amazing that was to him. He spoke of the iron curtain and the Cold War anxieties, and how the Government there all wanted to meet him. They all told him what fans they were, and it really gave you a sense at how powerful and uniting a force music can be. I've Got A Feeling was great, and the A Day In The Life/ Give Peace A Chance medley was wonderful. Let It Be was genuinely moving, and Live and Let Die was pure spectacle. Pyro on the accents, insane fireworks during the fast parts that seemingly overtook the stadium...just awe-inspiring. Hey Jude was all feel good and sing-songy.
That was the end of the set proper. For the first encore we got Lady Madonna, Day Tripper and Get Back. The second encore was Yesterday, a blistering Helter Skelter, and my personal favorite suite from Abbey Road, Golden Slumbers/ Carry That Weight/ The End. Three hours, and we were all still screaming for more. It must be said that Paul was out there the entire time. No bullshit guitar or drum solos, and I never even saw him pick up so much as a water bottle. I am in awe at his energy level. The best part of it all? He said “I'll see you next time”. I can only hope that there will be a next time for us here in Detroit.

4 comments:

  1. It was nice to relive the show through your blog. Thanks.

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  2. What a powerful show - historically, lyrically and emotionally even from the 323rd section! i am forever grateful that you offered me the opportunity to be there to witness the divineness of Sir Paul and the Beatles legacy. It was definitely the best concert EVER!! great Blog! Didn't Paul say that the ukelele he played belonged to George?

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  3. It was a concert of a lifetime. I have not heard anyone comment on the hour long pre-concert Paul gave from 5-6 pm. We arrived at Comerica very early and my son heard music coming from the park. We wandered over and since I know the layout of the park, we made our way over to an area outside the park directly across from the stage. To our amazement, Paul was jamming for one hour. He played songs that were not played at the concert that night like Magical Mystery Tour. I felt truly fortunate to hear and see him for four hours that night.

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