May 13th was a night destined to be unforgettable in the city of Angels. Royalty rolled into Inglewood in the form of Paul McCartney’s Get Back Tour.
As traffic grew and grew, a pilgrimage of sorts was congregating at SoFi Stadium. It was an above average warm night, and the excitement in the air was palpable. Fans from all over the planet were packing this newly crowned cathedral of entertainment.
As I entered the grounds, I noticed fans of all ages, races, and genders. Some were clearly Beatles fans, while others were more likely from the post-Beatle-era McCartney camp. While others just loved great music. As I made my way down to the SoFi floor, I could hear everyone talking about how excited they were for this show, what their favorite songs were, and their wish to hear their favorites.
It didn’t take long for SoFi to fill up, but due to traffic, there were many fans still trying to get in at the show’s 7:30 start time. I was happy to see the start time was pushed back to allow for fans to get into their seats. The concertgoers beside and in front of me quickly became friends, exchanging stories on what The Beatles and Sir Paul’s music meant to them. These fans were a byproduct of his music; they came from all over the country, and some from other countries just to be there. It was as if we were at a high school graduation and everyone was just catching up. That’s the power of music; it can transport us to any point in our lives, yet bring those moments full circle to the here and now.
As fans waited for the show to start, the pre-show entertainment had a DJ playing Beatles and remixed McCartney songs. That was entertaining enough, but the enormous stage had two gigantic video screens on each end, and a photo montage of McCartney at different points in his life was a slideshow that kept us all mesmerized.
Finally, the time had come; the pre-show entertainment slowly toned itself down and out walked Sir Paul with his band. As he lifted his hand, waving to the crowd, SoFi erupted with the roar only surpassed by landing jets at nearby LAX. As everyone stood and the cells phones popped up ready to video and chronicle every minute of the show, McCartney opened with “Can’t Buy Me Love.” The place went nuts. It was a surreal moment in time; it was as if history had come to life and manifested itself right in front of us. I saw grown men and women turn into teenagers immediately, and for a moment, we all felt 17 again.
As the music played, both Sir Paul and the band looked beyond ecstatic to be at SoFi playing for the crowd. McCartney often took breaks, thanking the crowd for coming out. The set list was eclectic to say the least.
The sonic journey took us back in time and then back to the future. Fans were screaming and singing along to the first string of songs, “Junior’s Farm,” “Letting Go,” “Got to Get You Into My Life,” “Come On To Me,” and “Let Me Roll In.” Then the first goosebump moment took place; they went into two classics, “Getting Better” and “Let Them In.” The crowd went cartoon crazy, and the video program playing right behind the band and at each end of the stage just added to the experience.
What was beyond cool was something I didn’t expect. I have had several chances to see McCartney in the past, but one reason or another got in the way. With this being my first time, I was not really sure what to expect. What I got was something that greatly impresses me when I size up a performer: how they engage with their crowd. Sir Paul did something I have only seen once before. I loved the way Springsteen would talk to and capture the soul of the crowd. McCartney did just that, and I too got sucked into the vortex of cool. I loved the stories he told right before going into a song.
The next set of songs laid the groundwork for what the crowd had come to see: living history. Sir Paul led the band into “My Valentine” and “1985” before he sat down at the piano. Despite there being no Ringo this time around, Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman did make a previously recorded video cameo in sign language. Moments like this made McCartney very nostalgic, and it resulted in performance magic.
I don’t know how many times you can use the word surreal to describe a moment in time, but that’s all I have as words do not adequately describe how awe-inspiring a moment this was for the capacity crowd. With a stroke of the keys and a photo on the video monitor behind him, Sir Paul was timeless.
Sir James Paul McCartney
Sitting in front of his piano, we saw him with his beard, a wink and his unforgettable smile from a time long past when he wore a younger man’s clothes.
And then it happened… you could hear a pin drop for a second. Then the crowd erupted into a roar that was near deafening as the lyrics began: “Baby I’m Amazed!” Have I mentioned how surreal a moment this was? Trust me, it was! As the crowd lost its proverbial mind, the next set of songs blew SoFi up; “We Can Work It Out” and “In Spite of All the Danger.”
What stood out to me was how McCartney gave background on how certain songs, like “Love Me Do.” Then boom! The next few songs were “Love Me Do,” “Dance Tonight,” and then “Blackbird”
I loved the story he told about Jimi Hendrix; that was the coolest thing ever. And the ne about the self-pressing of their first song. I was beyond impressed with his storytelling part of his performance; that in itself was worth the price of admission.
The next set of songs were also a stand up and scream your ass off moment: “Here Today,” “New,” ”Lady Madonna,” “Fuh You,” “Mr. Kite,” “Something,” then SoFi almost lost its roof to “Obla Di Obla Da!”
Just when you thought the crowd couldn’t get any more animated, here came “College,” and the tour title track, “Get Back.” Another goosebump moment was the Wings original, “Band on the Run.” The guy sitting next to me said, “Dude, I love the Foo’s, but damn… that was legit!” That comment made me smile.
I didn’t know how much more the crowd could take because when I looked around, they were spent. McCartney took them on a sonic journey through time and space and all points in between. Then came the set that made the biggest impression on me. SoFi lit up with cell phones and it was an unreal scene. You almost needed to screw the heads back on people as their minds were blown when Sir Paul started to close the night out with “Let It Be.” Again, SURREAL! Men and women of all ages sang along to every single word, many while bawling in tears.
As a pick-me-up, there was an electrified version of “Live and Let Die.” Then the closer, “Hey Jude!”
As the band left the stage, there was barely a dry eye in the house. The calls for an encore from the maestro were deafening. The band came out looking as giddy as school boys on the first day of school. Immediately, McCartney took control and they went into “I’ve Got a Feeling,” “Birthday,” and “Helter Skelter.” It felt like it caused a seismic boom. As the crowd cheered on, McCartney again stood and took in the crowd’s energy and love. He bid farewell with the most appropriate song of all, “Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight.”
It was by all accounts one of the most incredible nights of music I have every witnessed. I am very upset at myself for not seeing McCartney before this, but I am just so very thankful that I finally got to see this artist. I only need two words to describe Sir Paul and his performance: electricity personified!