McCartney – FedEx Field 08.01.09
Let me say right off the bat that this note is not just a review of the aforementioned concert, but rather a recap of the entire weekend [the exciting bits anyway]. So, here goes.
First I want to thank my boss Frank for convincing me to buy tickets a few days after they went onsale. I didn’t buy tickets immediately because I couldn’t find a ride and didn’t want to spend dough on a concert without a confirmed way to get there. Frank convinced me by saying simply, ‘Michael Jackson is dead, how many more tours will Paul do?’ That sentence repeated in my head for the rest of the workday so, that night while seeing Hank Williams III at the National [July 1], I asked my friend Eddie if he would want to see McCartney. I know Eddie loves music, but, I honestly can’t remember a conversation where the Beatles or McCartney came up, so I was genuinely surprised when he answered with an enthusiastic ‘Hell Yeah!’ So, the ride was secured. The next morning, I bought tickets.
Now, fast forward one month. It’s Saturday around 5:00 in the evening. We’ve checked into the hotel and are looking for some pre-show food. Near our Comfort Inn were a McDonald’s and a Burger King. Since Eddie was driving, I let him choose. He picked McDonald’s and we made our way inside. ‘Wow, I haven’t eaten McDonald’s pre-show since 1988,’ I said. [Rod Stewart on the Out of Order Tour @ The Norfolk Scope] As I got up to the cashier I glanced back at Eddie and asked, ‘What do you want?’ He looks at me and says, ‘Burger King.’ As we exited, I said ‘I STILL haven’t eaten McDonald’s pre-show since 1988,’ which had Eddie in hysterics and became his favorite line of the weekend. That’s why it’s included here in the review.
We arrived at FedEx and quickly found a handicapped parking spot [concerts are really one of the few places where the Handicapped Membership card does have its privileges] and waited for the gates to open. Once they did, we made our way inside and quickly found the Tour Merch stand.
This is where we would spend the next, oh, thirty minutes or so.
I bought a tour shirt, but Eddie’s size was sold out, so, we had to scamper to another nearby stand to ‘hopefully’ find a shirt for him. We got in another line and thankfully found the shirt in his size. Then, it was off to find our seats, but not before paying ten bucks for two bottles of water.
Now, I told you I bought tickets several days after the seats went onsale, so I was fully expecting mediocre seats, already consoling myself by saying ‘at least you’re in the building, enjoy it.’ Little did I know that our seats were going to be only seven rows off the field, slightly stage left, with a great [and I do mean GREAT] view of everything. I sat there in my seat almost stunned that, seven rows below me, some people paid $200 for seats for what I thought was a lesser view than my $90 seat. I still don’t know how I managed to get that lucky.
The tickets said 7:30. And 7:30 came and went. After 8:00 passed, I realized the oldest rule in the book when it comes to stadium shows: Stars don’t show up until it gets dark. So, I knew we had about another hour to wait, but said nothing. No need to be the messenger the masses get mad at.
I must mention that the pre-show music was a disc that alternated between string quartet renditions of Beatle songs and a ‘dance remix’ disc that offered some truly horrid re-workings of McCartney solo/Wings material. Only Paul McCartney could have versions of his own songs played as pre-show music to his own damn show, and get away with it.
Then, just after 9:00, the stadium lights blacked out, the screens went dark and a roar went up. The instantly recognizable lead riff from ‘Drive My Car’ tore into the night, and then we were off.
First, here’s the setlist in full. Take a moment to just soak this in. I get excited all over again just reading it. Hearing this all live was, in a word, unforgettable:
1. Drive My Car
3. Only Mama Knows
4. Flaming Pie
5. Got To Get You Into My Life
6. Let Me Roll It / Foxy Lady
8. The Long and Winding Road
9. My Love
11. Here Today
12. Dance Tonight
13. Calico Skies
15. Mrs Vanderbilt
16. Eleanor Rigby
17. Sing the Changes
18. Band on the Run
19. Back in the U.S.S.R.
20. I’m Down
22. I’ve Got a Feeling
23. Paperback Writer
24. A Day in the Life / Give Peace A Chance
25. Let It Be
26. Live and Let Die
27. Hey Jude
28. Day Tripper
29. Lady Madonna
30. I Saw Her Standing There
32. Helter Skelter
33. Get Back
34. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
35. The End
Okay. Now that you know what was played, some thoughts. I was thrilled to hear ‘Only Mama Knows’ from ‘Memory Almost Full’, one of his albums that I listen to often. Another happy surprise for me was the Wings classic ‘Let Me Roll It’, which has one of the meanest riffs at its core, one that truly feels right when blasted over a stadium sound system. And, even though I readily admit that I personally am burned out on ‘Live And Let Die’ and said before the show that I didn’t care if I heard it ever again, I have to say, when heard live Saturday with the expected pyro and surprise fireworks, I wasn’t bored. [That’s the KISS fan in me talking.]
Before I go any further, I must mention Paul’s band, which thankfully still includes ‘Wix’ [Paul Wickens] on keyboards and Abe Laboriel, Jr. on drums. Abe is still a mad man when it comes to the drums and sang the harmonies on almost every song. He’s a star and the band was top-notch. ‘Wix’ even played the keys with his elbow during ‘I’m Down’, as a nod to the Shea Stadium show where Lennon did that in disgusted amusement because he couldn’t hear a thing.
The most memorable moments for me were the dedications. Paul dedicated ‘My Love’ to Linda, and played 1982’s ‘Here Today’ dedicating it to John [last names aren’t necessary for you, right?]. The greatest though was the ukulele intro of ‘Something’, dedicated to George, as Paul had performed in 2002 at ‘The Concert for George’ [and if you haven’t seen that DVD yet, see it soon!]. After ‘Something’ finished, I don’t think there was not one soul there who at the very least didn’t have a lump in their throat.
Paul McCartney is now 67 years old. He’s one of the few performers who captures both rock music’s glorious past, while still being relevant in today’s ‘scene’. He and Dylan are the only two I can think of from ‘back then’ who are still making new music and performing new music, not because they have a deadline or a contract to fulfill, but because they want to.
We’ve all lived with Paul’s music for most of our lives, so, it really is like visiting an old friend who will play your favorite songs for you. We’ve all got our all time favorites. For me, when ‘Day Tripper’ started, I suddenly had a flashback to when I discovered The Beatles when I found my aunt’s 45 records at the age of five, [summer 1979] one of which was ‘Day Tripper. I also thought about a friend I made in High School named Todd, who has to be the world’s biggest McCartney fan. We spent many a lunch period talking Beatles music. The memories were thick all night long. Saturday night was a vivid reminder that music, unlike almost anything else, can be your time machine.
In short, Paul McCartney is still one of the best at what he does. He knows it. We know it. Let’s hope he keeps doing it for a while longer.
Thanks again to Frank for the convincing, to Eddie for the driving and the company, to the site http://www.setlist.fm for the set list. And thanks to you for reading.
‘My heart is like a wheel
Let me roll it to you’