Tag Archives: Paul McCartney

Runnerus Interrupticus

In our last episode, our heroic author had just completed the first two-thirds of his 10k virtual race, planning to complete the final two miles from home.  We rejoin our tale…

I drove home from the Monarch Chesterfield Levee Trail, and landed in my favorite easy chair.  I was thrilled to have pulled off my longest distance in a couple of months.  After sitting and watching a little bit of the Olympics, I decided I couldn’t stand my own stench and needed to grab a shower.

When I got out, I checked Facebook, and saw that my next door neighbor Joe had two tickets to the Paul McCartney concert at Busch Stadium that night.  I commented that if Becky were in town, I’d be all over that pair of tickets like… well, like the Beatles on vinyl.

Just minutes later, my phone rang.

Neighbor Joe told me that he’d bought the tickets a week or so ago, when Busch Stadium opened up some additional seating.  Apparently, he’d thought to take a galpal, but at her ripe old age of thirty-something, the phrase “Paul who?” rained a little bit on his parade.  But, having another music lover along who could appreciate this event rekindled his interest to go, and that he’d sell me one ticket, and drive us both to the show.  I needed to be ready to go downtown in an hour.


I’ve been a fan of the Beatles as long as I can remember.  When I was a kid, I’d listen to my parents’ ginormous console radio, and hearing all kinds of tunes.  That’s where I first heard The Beatles’ music.  Fast forward a few years, and I was buying loads of Beatles and Wings albums, playing the grooves off the vinyl.

I kept hoping and hoping that they’d reengage, even if only for a brief while.  I watched as SNL waved a big ol’ check on TV to have them join together on their stage.  I heard the urban legend that on one fateful night, they were all there, except George, who didn’t know his way around NYC, and didn’t get to SNL in time.

And when Wings toured in 1976, I swore I’d get to one of the shows. I was 12, and just didn’t have the means or capability to get to Atlanta to see them.  The closest I got was the Wings Over America album, which I listened to so many times that I knew every sound — music, lyric, audience — by heart.

But when John was assassinated in 1980, that dream died.  (Although, Julian Lennon sounded a lot like his father, and could’ve filled in, I’d thought.)  And then after George’s death, it really cemented the truth that the clock was ticking, and if I was to see any of them live, I needed to move.

In the early 80s, I saw a concert in Chattanooga that had The Producers as the warm-up band.  The girl I was dating at the time and I waited around outside Memorial Auditorium before the doors opened, and ran to the front of the stage when we were allowed in.  She and I were big ol’ Beatles fans, and during the show, we heard that lead-in note for “Hard Day’s Night,” and went nuts.  I was pretty sure that was the closest I’d ever get to seeing anything by the Fab Four live on stage.

Macca has toured many times since those days, and it’s just never seemed to work out for me to go and see him live.  It’d always been a dream of mine to see him perform, and I knew one of these days, he wouldn’t be touring, and I would’ve missed my chance.

When the tickets for this show went on sale many months ago, they were snapped up in no time — minutes! — and I thought that once again, I’d miss seeing Sir Paul live.  Neighbor Joe solved that with his timely tickets, and in an hour’s time, I went from not knowing what I was going to do Saturday night to riding downtown to see Paul McCartney!

Approaching the Field
Approaching the Field

Being a native of Da Lou, Joe knows downtown, and knows where to park for events at Busch.  He parked in a little out of the way lot near the Eat-Rite, and we hiked the short distance to the stadium.  Standing outside the home of the Cards, we chit-chatted, and shared our joy of being there on Facebook.  Quickly enough, the doors opened, we passed through security, and found our way down to the field.

Yes, down to the field!

28 Rows
28 Rows

Joe had somehow scored tickets that were in the 28th row from the stage, dead center, and the view of the stage was incredible.  It was the first time I’d ever been on the field at Busch III, and I was struck with just how big this place was.  We were sitting in basically short center field, oriented toward the batter’s eye, so you could see all the seats in the stadium, and it felt like you were the center of attention.  Very cool view.

And there wasn’t gonna be a bad seat in the house.  Towering video screens flanked the stage, plus a giant one behind the band, ensured everyone was gonna see a great show.  This made for a big ol’ multimedia event, which added to the impact of the show for me.

Folks started to sidle in, beginning to really fill the place up.  Next to us was a girl (Katie; 20-something) and her father (my age-ish) from Montana.  They were in town for a trap shooting tourney, and just decided to come to the show.  They were a hoot to chat with, and were every bit as excited to be there as we were.

Close to 8:15, Sir Paul took the stage… and the rest was a bit of a blur.  This dude is 74 years old, and played for a solid two hours and forty minutes… and then came back for a twenty minute encore!

The 45,000+ folks in the crowd danced and sang along through the whole concert — me included.  Anyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty reserved a lot of the time.  Not here.  I was singing along at the top of my lungs, dancing in place, and letting my internal hair down.  It was really a wonderful night!

Some highlights… (BTW, it looks like the setlist will be found here soon.)

Remember my comment about The Producers?  Well, Sir Paul opened his show with “Hard Day’s Night,” which set the night in a perfect kind of motion for me.

He sprinkled Beatles songs, Wings songs, Macca songs together — even one from the Quarrymen days! — and stirred them up masterfully.  I can’t imagine another show you could go to that features fifty years of music woven together so well.  And it seemed like he had a story to tell for almost everything he performed.  So many bands just come out, play the music, and that’s that.  This was like having a historian onstage, telling some choice nuggets about many of the songs, and then performing them for you.  I loved that approach.

Live and Let Die
Live and Let Die

My favorite performances?  So, so many come to mind, but easily “Live and Let Die” stands apart.  I’m a big Bond fan — Sean Connery, that is! — and the only non-Connery Bond film I like is Live and Let Die.  I’ve loved the title track since it came out around 1973.  I dig the change in tempo here and there, and these fantastic crescendos in the track.  For each one of those big crescendos, the stage erupted in fire and explosions, even leveraging the Cardinals fireworks that are used for winning games.  From our vantage point, those fireworks came right over the top of the stage, creating this incredible shower of fire on stage and fire in the air.  It was absolutely the highlight of the show for me.  (The video below is from YouTube, and is someone’s view from the upper deck of this part of the performance Saturday night.)

Cellphone Fireflies
Cellphone Fireflies

Paul paid tribute to both John Lennon and George Harrison, both moving, and wonderful.  And I saw something I’d never seen at a concert.  For both “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be,” the crowd lit their cell phones up, the same way we used to do with lighters a long time ago.  I looked around me from the stadium floor, and it was like being surrounded by fireflies.  Utterly cool.

Mr. Kite
Mr. Kite

He performed “The Fool on the Hill” and “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” — neither of which I would’ve bet on ever seeing live, and certainly not by Macca himself.  I loved the treatment for Mr. Kite — the video boards brought a psychedelic carnival atmosphere to that performance!

“Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five,” “Band on the Run,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Back in the U.S.S.R” … so many standout performances, and the crowd never relented (me included), singing along and dancing the night away.

There were a ton of cameras and booms… I’m really hopeful that this show was being recorded, and might be made available in the future.  Big crowd, big venue… I could see it happening.  And if Macca comes back to Da Lou, you can bet your buttons I’ll try to find a way to go.

So… we started this story yesterday with my needing only a couple of miles to finish the 10k I started Saturday morning.  I was on my feet for five hours Saturday night (I don’t know why you get a seat for these things!), and between walking the short distance to/from the car and dancing, I added five more miles.  Yeah, I danced for something like four miles.  🙂  And all that dancing was definitely  much more enjoyable than running, but was so very much more exhausting!!!!

Waiting for the Show to Begin

A gazillion years ago, when I was a kid — around 1970 — I was a big listener of AM radio.  I’d sit in front of my folks’ ginormous ol’ console system, and listen to the local stations — WDXB, WGOW and WFLI.  This was well before FM radio represented mainstream music, and so I got to hear popular music, not the talking heads that seem to own AM nowadays.

I can just remember listening to The Beatles on the radio.  I knew who they were, and some of their music.  When Paul McCartney formed Wings shortly thereafter, I was a little older, and they became a huge part of my listening experience.  When Wings toured America in 1976, I can remember talking with my friends about how much we wanted to go see Wings at the Omni in Atlanta (the closest venue to Chattanooga).  That never happened for me, but I did do the next best thing.

I bought Wings Over America.  On vinyl.  Probably with money earned mowing yards.  🙂

This was a huge set, on three records, and had many of my Wings favorites, along with some Beatles tunes.  I listened to it a ton, wearing the grooves out.  I could tell you every moment in that live recording, every comment by the band, every high and low.  It was one of those recordings that got in my DNA, and I loved listening to it.

Fast forward a decade or so, and I finally found Wings over America on CD.  Once again, I listened to that thing like crazy in its digital perfection.  (Yeah, yeah, I know there’s a whole argument out there about the warmth of vinyl, and the harshness of digital.  I get it, but the convenience of digital music has made it the right answer for me for a long, long time.)

Fast forward again, this time to this year.

Somehow, someway, I got wind of Wings Over America being re-released in a uber-special box, with extra tunes, video, books, etc.  I hounded it on Amazon for months, perpetually having it in my wish list, occasionally moving it into my shopping cart, only to pull back.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want this newly refreshed edition, and it was certainly within my finances.  I’ve just grown a little weary of all the re-releases of the music of my youth.  It seems like every month, there’s some other musical crustacean re-releasing a newly updated or re-mastered edition of seminal music from our shared youth.  And some of those are amazing (like the recent Pink Floyd Immersion Editions), and others aren’t exactly all that.

This was different though.  This was Macca.  He’s “big-three” territory for me, with Kraftwerk and Pink Floyd being the other corners of that triad that formed the foundation of my musical tastes in my youth.  So I finally pulled the trigger, and waited for it to arrive.  (How did we ever get by without Amazon Prime?)

I watched my phone to see when Brown Santa (aka UPS) delivered it, and dashed upstairs to grab it off the porch practically before the truck sped away.  And like a kid at Christmas, I tore into the box, and retrieved my wondrous new arrival.

And it was wondrous.

Packed inside was a really amazing-sounding version of the concert I knew so well.  Plus eight tracks from the concert in San Francisco in ’76.  Plus a DVD of Wings over the World.  And if that weren’t enough, there were four books included:  a retrospective of the tour, a scrapbook-like book, a book of photos from the tour taken by Linda McCartney, and a fourth book that collected sketches from the tour’s official artist.  I climbed in my comfy chair, and devoured those four books.  It was amazing to see that tour through “grown up” eyes, but reflected through the eyes of my youth.  It just blew me away.

And like Wonka with his Golden Ticket, there was a little extra something-something inside.  I found a little card in the set.  This card contained a code to visit Macca’s website, entitling me to pull down ultra-high resolution 24-bit/96khz versions with almost no sound processing.  It’s just about as close as you could get to the master tapes… and they’re glorious!  The sound is bright, uncompressed, and simply astonishing.  There is so much depth — things in the background, subtleties in the foreground — in these recordings that I’d never heard before.

I vaguely remember seeing Wings over the World in the late 70s.  The books indicate that CBS aired it back then, but for some reason I have a memory of seeing it on PBS in Chattanooga.  No matter — it was here, and I reveled in seeing film from the tour I never got to visit.  (And yes, I know Rockshow is out now, and it’ll be hitting my door soon.)  I was transfixed, riveted to the screen, watching this crazy second chapter in McCartney’s career unfold through live concert footage

This box set was a time machine for me, carrying me back almost forty years, and giving me a little door through which to crawl every now and then, and re-experience a really significant part of my musical youth.

And now I hear that Wings at the Speed of Sound and Venus and Mars are being released in similar editions next month.  I guess Amazon and I have a little more dancing left to do.