Words By: Gerrod Harris

I don’t think Paul McCartney got the memo that he’s supposed to be old. The seventy-three year old legendary musician, who’s spent over fifty years in the industry, proved that his live show is still something to behold with a fantastic, career spanning, three hour set at The Air Canada Centre on Saturday, October 17th as a part of his long running Out There tour.

Sporting a sharp blue suit, McCartney and his band took the stage promptly at 8:30, opening his set with The Beatles’ “Eight Days A Week”. It is important not to look at McCartney’s age and rich discography with a number of acts and believe that this would be a nostalgia show. While it may have had a certain nostalgic air to it, his set was comprised with almost as many deep cuts as there were hits, along with some more recent material from 2013’s New and even a stripped down version of “FourFiveSeconds”, his collaborative track with Rihanna and Kanye West.

Throughout his set, McCartney played a number of tunes from his time with The Beatles, most notably was “Eleanor Rigby”, “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da”, “Hey Jude”, which ended as a grand sing along with likely the audience, and “Blackbird”, where a piece of the stage slowly rose, allowing for McCartney to tower above the arena. In tribute to the late George Harrison, he performed the loving ballad, “Something”, a song which Harrison wrote for the band.   He also performed the first half solo on a ukulele, as Harrison loved the instrument, before jumping into an incredibly soulful, and fully electric, second half to the song. He also performed the sorrowful “Here Today” in memory of John Lennon. McCartney’s work with Wings was also a large part of his performance. This included the iconic “Band On The Run”, “Nineteen Hundred And Eighty-Five”, “Maybe I’m Amazed”, and the explosive (literally) “Live And Let Die”, which made use of pyrotechnics, fireworks, and explosives, much in the spirit of James Bond. One of my favorite parts was his performance of Wings’ classic track, “Let Me Roll It”, which led right into an instrumental rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady”.

McCartney, even without playing, puts on a great show. He would reminisce about watching Hendrix live, or writing with Lennon and Harrison, as well as his recent collaboration with West, all with great fondness. If he made a mistake, like walking to the wrong side of the stage to switch guitars, he would make a joke of himself to the audience. He humorously explained why he doesn’t like to read peoples signs in the audience as he often forgets the words and chords, but in between songs he would read some of the more different signs and even brought a few fans on stage because their sign caught his attention. Everything McCartney does is done with the intention of enriching his performance, and ultimately making it a better experience.

Towards the end of his lengthy set, McCartney took two encores, each separated by a very short break. The first encore consisted of The Beatles’ “Another Girl”, “Hi, Hi, Hi”, by Wings, and another Beatles track, “I Saw Her Standing There”. The second one started with an excellent rendition of “Yesterday”. McCartney continued by bringing along the local Paris Port Dover Pipes and Drum Band to play along to “Mull Of Kintyre”. He then blasted through the hard hitting, “Helter Skelter” where his edgier vocals truly shined without a sign of being tired from his lengthy set. McCartney concluded his performance with a medley of three Beatles songs from Abbey Road: “Golden Slumbers”, “Carry The Weight”, and “The End”. All three of which were seamlessly tied together and featured the drum solo normally heard at the start of “The End”, but rather if said solo was on steroids (Abe Laboriel Jr. is a monster behind the kit), and then McCartney and his two guitarists, Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray, all traded short solos between each other. Truly it was a spectacular way to bring his performance to a close.

When you watch a concert of such a classic artist, it is difficult to pick out just a few highlights. The whole forty song show was a highlight! McCartney doesn’t need validation as a song writer or a performer; he is a household name who has been innovating the music industry since the 60’s. What amazes me is how he, despite knowing this, he doesn’t feel the need to slow down and tiredly blast through hit after hit. He could stand in the same spot, sing only what songs you expected to hear in the arrangements you hear on the original recordings, and still, he could sell out any arena and have fans ranting and raving as they left. But no, that’s not good enough for McCartney. Instead he is dancing around, jumping between his signature violin bass, acoustic and electric guitars, and the piano, altering songs to give them a unique new feel (not that he has to), and he played for roughly an hour longer than most people would. It isn’t good enough to him to simply play “Live And Let Die”, but rather that stage had to be lit up in a fiery inferno as he slammed his fingers down on his grand piano. That is why Paul McCartney remains a figure of eternally coolness: he doesn’t settle for good enough; instead he delivers a jaw dropping performance, worthy of crossing off your bucket list.

Paul McCartney Setlist:

1: Eight Days A Week

2: Save Us

3: Got To Get You Into My Life

4: One After 909

5: Temporary Secretary

6: Let Me Roll It

7: Foxy Lady

8: Paperback Writer

9: My Valentine

10: Nineteen Hundred And Eighty-Five

11: The Long And Winding Road

12: Maybe I’m Amazed

13: I’ve Just Seen A Face

14: FourFiveSeconds

15: We Can Work It Out

16: Another Day

17: And I Love Her

18: Blackbird

19: Here Today

20: New

21: Queenie Eye

22: Lady Madonna

23: All Together Now

24: Lovely Rita

25: Eleanor Rigby

26: Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!

27: Something

28: Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da

29: Band On The Run

30: Back In The U.S.S.R.

31: Let It Be

32: Live And Let Die

33: Hey Jude

34: Another Girl

35: Hi, Hi, Hi

36: I Saw Here Standing There

37: Yesterday

38: Mull Of Kintyre

39: Helter Skelter

40: Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End

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