Fans flooded the streets outside the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh last Monday as they waited for the doors to open for Sir Paul McCartney. Pittsburgh was McCartney’s second date on his “Out There” tour after recovering from being severely ill and postponing tour dates.
The arena was filled to the top with people and barely any floor space could be seen. Fans waited anxiously in their seats as the lights went dim, the wide screens on the stage started showing a timeline of McCartney’s life. Pictures of him as a baby, The Beatles first starting out, to their rise of fame, The Beatles last show and all the while, his band Wings, played along with the images on the screen. The slide show went on for about half an hour. But the arena grew louder when the pictures started to show more recent images of McCartney. The last picture of the slide show ended with a picture that was taken last year. It was an image of the Beatle, with his fist up in the air, looking towards the crowd. The screens went black and the whole arena went dark before the stage was drowned in a blue haze.
The crowd roared as the band took their place on stage and the screens suddenly showed McCartney coming up the stairs to the stage. McCartney waved to the crowd and bowed and the band opened up with a classic Beatle’s hit, “Eight Days A Week”. The stage filled with lights and images on the screens but the band could have just stood there with their instruments and the audience would have been pleased.
McCartney did not skip a beat. He kept the crowd going and thanked the audience after each song. A water bottle could not even be seen on stage, none of the band seemed out of breath, it was as if they were living off the crowd’s energy. McCartney played a mixture of Wings, Beatles, songs off his Kisses On The Bottom and his recently released album, NEW. McCartney sang hit after hit and the crowd sang loud and proud right along with him.
McCartney played popular songs like – “All My Loving”, “Maybe I’m Amazed” (which he dedicated to his late wife, Linda), “Blackbird” and “Band on the Run”. McCartney switched around with playing guitar to playing piano and it showed only a few of the talents the left-handed guitarist can do.
But one song that made the crowd go quiet with remembrance was when he played his song “Here Today”. McCartney told the audience that the song was about a conversation that he never had with John Lennon. It has been 34 years since John Lennon was killed, McCartney sang raw emotions during the song and the fans held up lighters without saying a word. But to lighten the mood, McCartney continued to talk to the audience telling stories about Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. McCartney sang “Something” which George Harrison wrote for Abbey Road and a memorial of pictures appeared behind the band of Paul and George.
He talked quite casually to the crowd in between songs. He even took a moment to look at all the signs that people held up for him to read. He joked with the fans, “You know, I’m old and signs are distracting to me. If I mess up on any songs, it’s your fault.” McCartney looked at another sign in the audience and read out loud “Paul, will you sign my butt?” The crowd laughed and McCartney teased “Okay, let’s have a look at it.”
Towards the end of the night, McCartney made his way towards the piano and began to perform “Live and Let Die”, as the chorus came, flames shot out from the stage and fireworks shot up towards the ceiling. The crowd screamed and cheered as the powerful chorus erupted the whole arena. After the song ended and the smoke cleared, McCartney stood up and put his forearms on the top of the piano with his head down but in seconds he raised his fist to the crowd. One would think that bringing all the energy to that song would ware him out but McCartney was far from over.
McCartney then slowed things down when he started “Hey Jude”. McCartney ended the song with guys and girls in the crowd taking turns to sing the famous “Na! Na! Na!” – all while holding hands and bowing to the crowd and left the stage. The crowd cheered louder for the band to come back and in a matter of minutes, Paul and the band came back out with McCartney holding the American flag and Wickens holding the British flag. The band performed an encore of “Day Tripper”, “Hi,Hi, Hi” (Wings), “Get Back” and once again the band bowed and rushed off stage and the crowd stood up and cheered for another encore.
The crowd got their wish as McCartney came back on stage to sing “Yesterday” and then immediately went into the mighty powerful song “Helter Skelter” – McCartney’s voice sounded exactly how the studio version was, with the screaming and the rough vocals. McCartney went to the piano for the last time and did a combination of “Golden Slumber and “Carry That Weight”. He looked at the crowd and said, “This is when we actually have to leave,” and the band went into The Beatle’s hit, “The End”. The band for the third time took a bow but as they stood up, confetti exploded from the stage and covered the audience on the floor level seating and McCartney thanked the crowd and said he would see them next time.
Paul McCartney and his band put on a show that was not like any other show. McCartney’s music seeped through the heart of everyone in the audience. His passion for music filled the souls of everyone. That night, Paul McCartney showed that true rock n roll never dies and his legend from the fab four still lives on after fifty years.