|(Photo by JoAnn Kassoff)|
By Ken Michaels
On July 5th, I took my family to see Paul McCartney for his show in Albany at the Times Union Center. I don’t know whether to be amazed or not, so many of us fans were rightfully concerned about Paul because he had a serious virus which forced him to cancel all his shows in Japan, one in South Korea, and he postponed his dates for June in the U.S. where it’s now been rescheduled for October. I wondered…would he be strong enough to do a full show, which in McCartney terms usually means a 2 ½ hour show, or would he scale it back just to make it easy on himself. Well, he didn’t give us a 2 ½ hour show, instead he gave us a 3 hour show! He usually does on average 35 songs in concert. This time he did 38, counting the Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End medley as one song.
What impressed me most of all were two things: McCartney’s energy-he may not dance around the stage like younger performers, but he looks like he is really enjoying himself, and having the time of his life, and he certainly enjoys feeling the love and the respect he gets from the audience.
The other thing that impressed me was his singing. I think he sounded better than when I saw him last year at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. While sometimes I couldn’t hear his voice on the louder songs, whether that was because of where I was sitting, or the way it was mixed, I certainly heard him best on the softer acoustic numbers-and in particular songs like “Blackbird,” “Yesterday,” “Another Day,” “And I Love Her,” and “Here Today” his voice was superb. In fact, “Blackbird” and “Here Today” had Paul all alone with his audience on a high riser-just him and his acoustic guitar-nice touch, it felt more intimate that way.
Since he started doing his “Out There” tour his set lists hasn’t changed much. He’s been doing 4 songs from his latest album “New”-the title track, “Queenie Eye,” “Save Us” and “Everybody Out There,” but on this show he pulled out a surprise-he said we’ve never done this one before and he played “On My Way To Work,” making it 5 songs from the NEW album, and the crowd was very respectful of his new material, especially the title track. So far, he hasn’t played the song on any of his U.S. dates that followed, so it’s an exclusive for my show!
He continued the do the Beatles songs that he had never done before prior to this tour-All Together Now; Lovely Rita; and Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite. He also continued to do 2 Wings numbers that he hadn’t done since the Wings Over America T our-Listen To What The Man Said and Hi, Hi, Hi, which I still say is one of his best numbers, an all and out rocker that should always be in his set list.
What did he remove from his playlist? Your Mother Should Know, Junior’s Farm, and Mrs. Vandebilt, which he’s been doing for several years now.
He continued to dedicate certain songs to the special people in his life that we’ve lost; Here Today for John, Something for George, Maybe I’m Amazed for Linda, and Another Day for the great producer Phil Ramone, who helped him during the Ram sessions which produced that song, his first solo-hit.
As someone who treasures Paul’s voice, I’m definitely observant how he controls it. So many of these songs are vocally demanding, and he can’t scream as loud as he once could, but his voice is still strong, he knows how to work it, and there are times when he’ll hit falsetto notes that are really high, and that takes skill too.
You may have heard the news that Paul spotted a couple of signs from the audience-one that read “He won’t marry me until he meets you.” The other sign read “I’ve got the ring. I’m 64.” Paul didn’t waste the opportunity to invite the couple on stage; they were Claudia and Jonathan from Rochester, NY. Jonathan sang a verse of When I’m 64 onstage with the band backing him up. He got down on one knee and proposed to her, and she said yes. Can you imagine being one of those two people proposing on stage at a Paul McCartney concert? Who knows-it might even make it on a future DVD! They’re actually a part of history now, and something they’ll be telling their family and friends for a long time. I’m sure they’re still buzzing.
I think I’m always going to remember a friend of mine who was at this show. I saw her after the concert. I said “What did you think?” She shook her head in disbelief. Paul McCartney, now 72 years old, just gave us a 3-hour concert. Maybe I’m Amazed? Maybe not. He’s done this so many times before. But the older he gets the more you have to appreciate how he gives so much for his audience, and how he’s able to pull this off. This concert was yet but another one for the ages.
As I’ve said so many times, never miss an opportunity if you can to see Paul. He always gives you one of the greatest concerts ever.