Paul McCartney, heavy on the hits, bats them out of the park in Milwaukee
BY JEFF ELBEL July 17, 2013 1:38PM
Paul McCartney, in concert Tuesday, July 16, 2013, at Miller Park in Milwaukee. | Photo by Jeff Elbel
PAUL McCARTNEY SET LIST:
“Eight Days a Week”
“All My Loving”
“Listen to What the Man Said”
“Let Me Roll It”
“Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five”
“The Long and Winding Road”
“Maybe I”m Amazed”
“I”ve Just Seen a Face”
“We Can Work It Out”
“And I Love Her”
“Your Mother Should Know”
“All Together Now”
“Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!”
“Band on the Run”
“Back in the U.S.S.R.”
“Let It Be”
“Live and Let Die”
“Hi, Hi, Hi”
“Carry That Weight”
Paul McCartney stepped onto the stage Tuesday at Milwaukee’s Miller Park to share a hot, sticky evening with his fans. “I’m glad I wore me overcoat,” he joked, shedding a layer. Now 71 and thriving despite the weather, McCartney made a model case for the benefits of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. It’s doubtful that he’ll ever retire to that island cottage mentioned in “When I’m Sixty-Four.”
Though he played Wrigley Field two years ago, the closest that Macca got to Chicago on this tour was Miller Park. His musical marathon Tuesday spanned 38 songs. The audience knew virtually every word, and sang in mighty unison from the beginning with “Eight Days a Week” to the end with, appropriately, “The End.”
The mountain of “must-play” material from McCartney’s solo, Beatles and Wings albums ensured overlap with his Wrigley Field set lists from 2011, but the generous concert duration allowed 11 songs to enter the rotation. Freshest was the intimate “My Valentine” from McCartney’s recent “Kisses on the Bottom” collection of pop standards. McCartney explained that the song was inspired by a rainy vacation in Morocco and dedicated it to wife Nancy.
Touching remembrances were offered for lost friends. Grand piano flourishes heralded “Maybe I’m Amazed,” dedicated to his first wife, Linda McCartney, who died in 1998. During “Something,” McCartney played a ukulele given to him by George Harrison, marking a lovely tribute to his former bandmate. Before singing “Here Today” for John Lennon, McCartney noted that it was written as a conversation the two never got to share. “Next time you want to say something nice to someone, just say it,” he recommended.
McCartney revisited his first post-Beatles single, “Another Day,” released in 1971. The deceptively upbeat-sounding tale of workaday drudgery was thematically similar to “Eleanor Rigby,” which soon followed.
McCartney unleashed a stinging electric guitar solo in tribute to Jimi Hendrix after “Let Me Roll It,” and revealed the civil rights activist origins of the gentle, acoustic “Blackbird.” Later, McCartney sported his trademark Hofner bass for “Back in the U.S.S.R.” During the song, a message flashed across the video screen urging release of the imprisoned Russian feminist punk rock group Pussy Riot.
McCartney’s top-flight band hit all of their marks. Paul Wickens’ keyboards brought a carnival atmosphere to “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” The Lennon composition from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” thrilled Beatlemaniacs, since it had never been performed by any Beatle until this tour.
Abe Laboriel Jr. thrashed his drums within an inch of their structural integrity during “Helter Skelter.” Guitarist Rusty Anderson dug into the loping boogie of the lusty Wings staple “Hi, Hi, Hi.”
McCartney’s barrelhouse piano rang the introduction to “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” launching a stadium-sized choir of raucous voices. The Bond theme “Live and Let Die” was the evening’s cinematic peak, with dramatic chords punctuated by dazzling pyrotechnics, explosions and fireworks.
Devoted fans might have reasonably wished for material from Sir Paul’s recent “Memory Almost Full” or something from his upcoming studio album, reportedly in progress. Although the sweaty audience was clearly elated by the concert’s depth and breadth, McCartney’s continuing creativity is what elevates him beyond status as a museum piece.
Jeff Elbel is a free-lance contributor. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.