Paul Mc Cartney Concert Live-Maybe I'm Amazed
By Linda M. Sittler
Imagine loving someone for 42 years and finally getting to meet him. For almost half a century I have loved Paul McCartney and his music, but never got to see him perform.
At last, on October 8 of 2005, I was up front and personal at Paul McCartney's US Concert in Washington, D.C.'s MCI Center. Now I truly know the meaning of "swoon." Being so close to my girlhood idol left me intoxicated, tearful, and almost on the verge of fainting. I even had to wait a couple of minutes after the final curtain to return to earth.
The best thing about being a baby boomer with grown kids today may be that those sniveling, selfish little clods we raised may have matured enough to pay us back. It's about time my two kids gave me something worthwhile for Mother's Day. But when they surprised me with great tickets to the Paul McCartney Concert, I was speechless. I was even more grateful after learning how they managed to get them- with lightning speed computer skills to beat the competition the moment they went on sale.
The evening of the long-awaited concert finally arrived, starting with a 20-minute prelude of D.J. music by Freelancer Roy Kerr, which got the crowd sufficiently hipped for Paul's entrance. This was followed by a sentimental 10-minute film narrated in Paul's voice, showing old clips and home movies of his early life-with pictures spanning some 63 years. There were even close-ups of early report cards--one that said, "He could do better" and another, "He could be first."
After the D.J. music and short film, the crowd was totally psyched and more than anxious for Paul to make his grand appearance. In a handsome jacket with wide maroon lapels, a long-sleeved turquoise pullover, somewhat baggy jeans and two white charity wristbands, the dashing Paul came out looking youthful and the epidemy of good health and vitality.
The audience was quickly drawn into his spell with the group's rendition of "Magical Mystery Tour." This was followed by "I'll get you" and "Drive My Car." I was excited to find that the songs and sounds were a carbon copy of the original Beatles. Suddenly 42 years melted away and I was transformed to a time when four awkward lads from Liverpool changed the face of American music with their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.
We all soon discovered that Sir Paul McCartney was a man who put his whole heart and soul into every note, every gesture, and every word of his concert. By the first few numbers he had removed his jacket, rolled up his long sleeves, pulled on his jeans a couple of times, and showed signs of genuine perspiration.
Paul told the adoring crowd that in the band's early days-when they were known as the Quarrymen-they played cabarets, where people wanted "smoochy" music. This is how he first began singing his next number, "Till There Was You," which he performed to the cheering audience.
Shortly after the Grand Piano lifted from center stage for Paul's piano rendition of "Maybe I'm Amazed," we were all truly amazed by the versatility of this remarkable icon, who still played fantastic guitar, with or without a band, was unbelievably gifted on piano, and could sing as well as the day he set thousands of female hearts aflutter decades ago.
At one point in the concert the band left the stage and Paul spoke directly to the audience. "This is the part where I get to be all alone with you," he said to the roaring cheers. Then he began to tell how the early band-the Quarrymen-(consisting of Paul, John, George, John Duff Lowe and Colin Hanton) made their first recording at the Percy Phillips Studio in Liverpool.
The song was a McCartney-Harrison composition, "In Spite of All the Danger" and each performer contributed one pound to make the record. Paul said they were each allowed to take the record home and keep it for a week, but that Duff, the last one to get it, had kept it for 23 years. Then he began the number, asking the crowd to repeat after him on the "oh..oh…oh...oh's."
Sir Paul's acoustic solos were fantastic, including "I'll Follow the Sun," "Yesterday," and "Blackbird." As a prelude to "Blackbird," talking to the audience in a way that made you feel you were the only one there, Paul told how he and George had tried to learn a J.S. Bach piece when they were young lads-- "Bouree Lute Suite No. 1 in E Minor"-to impress people. However, they could never play it quite right without making mistakes. That piece, he relayed, was what inspired the song "Blackbird."
Most concerts have their highs and lows-you can't expect to like everything-but, from my perspective, Paul's performance only kept building to a fabulous peak. It was wonderful to find that my girlhood fantasies about this cute-faced Beatle were not in vain. I had obviously set my heart upon a multi-talented composer/performer and a genuine, down-to-earth human being.
As the concert progressed, Paul's energy responded to the excitement of the crowd. He went from piano to several kinds of guitars, charming us with "Long and Winding Road," "Fixing a Hole," "Eleanor Rigby," and "Penny Lane;" to our amazement bringing back the original Beatles sound.
There were several nostalgic highlights during the show. One was when Paul asked us to take a moment to honor John, George, and Ringo, to which the audience stood up, clapped and cheered. Another special moment was when Paul noticed signs saying "Happy Birthday, John." Since it was around the time of John Lennon's birthday, Paul asked the audience to sing Happy Birthday to John. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house, including Paul's own.
To introduce one of the numbers, Paul spoke to the audience about the space shuttle launch last July. He mentioned that it was the first time NASA had a female commander, Irene Collins. The mission had had some trouble and they did a space walk to fix it. When the shuttle wanted to come back to earth the weather turned bad and they were running out of supplies. They had to wait another day for the weather to clear up. And, Paul relayed, "They played my song for the wake-up call."
The crowd was then treated to the original tape of the astronauts wake-up call as Paul and the band led into his song, "Good Day Sunshine," to remarkable footage of the shuttle launch and mission. Paul said, "How proud am I? How proud would you be if it was your song?"
The concert's last official number, "Live and Let Die," was performed to a spectacular pyrotechnic display that included loud blasts and 20-foot flames. Paul, like some of the surprised crowd, winced to the sudden crashing blasts of the amazing visual and sound display.
The captivated audience cheered, clapped, and stomped as Paul finally left the stage, refusing to let him go. And to everyone's elation, Sir Paul obliged with two fabulously long encores-including "Yesterday," "Get Back," "Please Please Me" and "Let It Be." For the final encore he emerged wearing a red "No Land Mines" tee-shirt, our last vision of this remarkable performer before he finally withdrew from the spellbound crowd.
Paul complimented his Washington, D.C. audience, saying how wonderful we were and added that he'd see us all again the next time he were here. What was that I saw in his eyes as he got ready to leave the stage? Was it tears-of remembering that Washington, D.C. was where the Beatles first played on American radio, tears for lost band members, tears for all the time gone by or simply tears for realizing our human mortality?
Whatever the reason, "maybe I'm amazed at the way he pulled us out of time;" transforming thousands of us to a wonderful, happy time of our lives long ago. "Maybe I'm amazed at the way I love him." I hope Paul does come back to D.C. and I certainly hope I'll be there to meet him when he does.