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Oh that magic feeling: Paul McCartney’s ‘Got Back’ tour

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Oh that magic feeling: Paul McCartney’s ‘Got Back’ tour (AP file photo/Jacques Boissinot)

Once there was a way to get back home and I think some of us may have found the path on Paul McCartney’s “Got Back” tour. The legend’s first road trek since 2019 is scheduled to include a second show at Fenway Park in Boston as this issue hits the stands.

My attendance at the Orlando show on May 28 was an out-of-the-blue gift from my former morning show partners on “The Mike and Mike Show.”

Mike Elliott and his wife, Kat Walls, live in Orlando where they produce the fabulously successful podcast “The Box of Oddities.”

The news came through a Saturday morning phone call in late February.

“Hey, guess who’s coming to Orlando in May and guess who’s going to be there to see him?” they teased.

We talked about how it had been almost exactly 20 years since we’d seen Paul together in Boston and we dreamed about the songs we hoped to hear him perform in Orlando.

When reality upstages the dream you know you’re at a McCartney show.

A strong air of anticipation seemed to energize the crowd of 65,000 at Camping World Stadium despite the 87-degree heat at showtime.

Stirring the crowd further before the curtains opened was Chris Holmes, McCartney’s touring DJ since 2009. Occupying stage left, Holmes spun an expertly-executed one-hour blend of hits, rarities and outtakes from the last six decades of Paul’s recorded output, matched to an evolving display of related images.

When the man himself appeared, holding high that iconic left-handed Hofner violin bass, the collective roar of the crowd sent shivers up the spine.

The tour’s title ties in nicely to the acclaimed “Get Back” docuseries directed by Peter Jackson, a subject referenced several times during the show.

“I said at the end of the last tour that I’d see you next time,” McCartney said to the crowd. “Well, we got back!”

Paul has kept the same band intact for more than 20 years, longer than any group with which he’s performed.

Guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray, drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. and keyboardist Paul “Wix” Wickens, accompanied McCartney for a 36-song, near three-hour trip through his and our collective histories.

22 of those songs came from The Beatles era; eight were from the Wings years; and six were pulled from his solo work.

During one of the show’s funniest moments, McCartney was seated behind an upright piano painted to resemble the Magical Mystery Tour design as he addressed the crowd.

“I know what you like,” he said before launching into the 2013 song “New.” “When we do a Beatles song, thousands of cell phones come out like a galaxy of stars. But when we do a newer song, it’s like looking into a black hole. I don’t care, we’re going to play them anyway.”

One of the more remarkable aspects of McCartney’s show is how he manages to make even a stadium gig feel like an intimate affair. The stories and anecdotes have varied little in 20 years, but he still has the ability to make you feel like you’re a guest in his living room.

The show is delivered in three continuous acts: A high energy opening section that included Beatles classics like “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Getting Better” combined with Wings rockers including “Junior’s Farm” and “Letting Go.”

The three-piece Hot City Horns added some very real and welcome brass to songs like “Got to Get You into My Life” and “Let ‘Em In.”

A semi-unplugged section of the show positioned the band in front of a stunning backdrop designed to invoke the front porch setting of a country home at night.

Here, McCartney shared stories while playing acoustic guitar, mandolin and ukulele on songs including “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” “Blackbird,” “Dance Tonight” and tributes to John Lennon and George Harrison with “Here Today” and “Something” respectively.

The show’s home stretch delivered some of the big sing-along songs, including “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be” along with a truly explosive “Live and Let Die” that sent two fireworks displays high over the stadium.

The six-song encore began with the evening’s most emotional moment, a virtual duet with John Lennon that incorporated his isolated vocal and video from the January 1969 rooftop performance of “I’ve Got A Feeling,” as seen in the “Get Back” series.

When the moment came and Paul turned his back to the audience to stare up at the colossal image of John singing his lines, the collective rush of emotion in that stadium was palpable.

“Helter Skelter” was almost overwhelming with its accompanying display of dizzying graphics before the Abbey Road medley of “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End” brought the show home before sending us into the night.

McCartney’s vocal range may have taken a hit in recent years and I’m sure he’s more aware of that than anyone. I was surprised to actually find it quite moving to hear that once seemingly flawless voice crack as he attempted to hit the high notes on “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “Band on the Run.”

We’re not exactly the same as we used to be, why do we demand more from our heroes, especially one that is days away from turning 80? I know right? How is that possible?

The fact that he was not only there but engaged and happy to lead us once more down that magic rabbit hole twisted with his and our histories was enough.

“We’ll see you next time!” he said once more.

And in a flash of smoke, he was gone.  

Last modified on Wednesday, 08 June 2022 04:11


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