I never saw Michael Jackson live (or lip-synced, as his upcoming London concerts were rumored to be), and his death made me realize there are stars I want to see before it's too late. Top of the list is Stevie Wonder (as an adult, anyway; I attended a dress rehearsal of "The Ed Sullivan Show" at age 11, and one of the guests was Little Stevie Wonder). Last year, N mentioned getting tickets to see Stevie in Madison Square Garden and I went into my "concerts are too loud" spiel and N assumed I wasn't interested and went with A. They then talked about how fantastic it was, and I regretted not going.
Stevie was among those slated to perform in a Radio City concert July 18 honoring Nelson Mandela, and N and I discussed possibly going. But it was expensive, Stevie was just one of many artists, and there was no guarantee he'd even be there. While we were discussing this on IM, various separate Facebook friends were posting how they planned to see Sir Paul at Citi, and just for fun N (who is a big Paul fan) checked the official ticket site for the added Tuesday July 21 concert (Friday and Saturday had sold out within minutes). "I just bought a ticket!" he said, having procured a floor seat in Section B2, row 10, at top dollar. "I will definitely go with you! Get some more" I said without hesitation, so he got 2 more in B6, second row. He was pretty sure his brother would want the third ticket (he did, and drove 6 hours to get here).
So all of a sudden I was going to see Paul. Not only a Beatle, but my very favorite Beatle. This was huge! The nostalgia factor alone would have made it a memorable event, never mind the quality of the music. Then I watched video of the Letterman marquee concert (aired and extended) - he was great! Reports and videos came in from Friday and Saturday at Citi - equally great! I watched recent concerts in Kiev, Coachella, Halifax - wow! The performances were all slightly different - no Britney Spears fakery that I could see.
Finally it was Tuesday, and we met in a subway station to take the 7 out to Citi. Rain was forecast, and the guys had ponchos and I wore a bedraggled dress I didn't care about getting wet, and brought a plastic laundry bag to drape over myself. As a PA announced the concert was sold out, we entered through the bullpen gate, and security failed to notice N's 2 umbrellas (supposedly forbidden, since they could block people's view). They apparently also didn't notice the multiple video cameras of YouTubers. A guard snapped a wristband on me to identify floor seat-holders, and we were on our way. N stopped at a porta-potty and said it was clean, so I went. There was a heavily deodorized deep bowl that was almost empty.
We found the seats, and N was chagrined to see the entire section A in front of us; he'd thought it was the second row, period. But the seats were still good - except for the large A6 sign that totally obscured his view of the stage. A security person was pretty sure that would be moved, and we found a supervisor who confirmed that. Also, it turned out cameras taping the concert for an eventual DVD might have blocked the view closer up so this was fine. The section was not yet full, so I sat with them as long as I could. We went over to the other side of the floor to see my seat, which was the only empty one in an already full section, between a young couple and slightly scary-looking older bikerish guy. Back in N's area, we heard the ridiculously loud opening act, The Script, from Dublin. My headphones dulled the edge a bit, but the music was still very loud and not memorable. They then started playing Beatles film clips on the large screens, and soon the actual ticketholder arrived and I left for my real seat.
Walking across the field, I was stopped by someone who recognized me from "Wordplay." Hey, Paul, I'm a celebrity, too! (uh, right, and he's the premiere songwriter of the second half of the 20th century) The scary-looking dude next to me remarked they wondered if I was ever coming, and I explained I was sitting with friends on the other side. He said he'd also been there Saturday and it was great and pointed out what was coming up throughout the concert, while taking tons of photos/video (I couldn't find them on YouTube). I told him about how my mother wouldn't let me go to the original Shea concerts. We were all fans and everyone was nice. No one smoked a thing, thank goodness.
Paul finally took the stage, and the place went wild as we stood up en masse. And never sat down (except a few times I just needed to rest - unlike Paul who not only stood up, but sang and played for 2 1/2 hours without even a break for water). The opening chords of "Drive My Car" rang out. The couple next to me moved into the aisle, so we all shifted right. I danced. I sang. Across the aisle some short women jumped up and down and rarely stopped. Paul talked about how the girls at Shea screamed so loud the Beatles couldn't hear themselves, leading everyone to scream on cue (except now the "girls" were middle-aged women). I cried during "Blackbird." By the time he got to "Yesterday" I thought maybe I shouldn't sing and just listen but when I stopped singing, everyone around me was still singing so if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
Usually when someone with so many classic hits trots out their newer material, you listen politely and hope it will end soon - but Paul's newer stuff was great! I've listened to it repeatedly on YouTube. The only non-Beatles song I thought was blah was "Dance Tonight" and even that wasn't so bad. In all, a great selection of music done really well. I'd like to acknowledge the fantastic band - Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray on guitar, Abe Laboriel Jr. pounding the drums, and Paul "Wix" Wickens on keyboards/synthesizer.
It sent chills through my spine to hear the concert-ending, "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make" sung by the person who wrote it. "That's really PAUL up there," I thought throughout the evening. I rejoined N and his brother and we took a crowded subway back to Manhattan. I haven't stopped reliving the moments on YouTube since.
Oh, and it didn't rain. Maybe a little drizzle. I didn't really notice. And I never needed my noise-cancelling headphones for Paul.