Ellen (ennienyc) wrote,

En McCartney

Paul and I spent the weekend together, and I still haven't recovered (Paul himself knows nothing about this). As you know, Paul and I go way back.

Tickets for the 7/15 concert arrived in the mail 2 weeks prior (they were so expensive I almost felt like putting them in a bank vault), and excitement mounted as the day neared.  Finally it was Friday, and I met A at the 125th St. D platform at 7pm. The train was packed with fans, and the area near the stadium even more crowded. Unlike Citifield, there was no bag inspection and no floor seat wristband. The seats were not together, so first I found mine which was near the back of the section on the right side of the stage near the right aisle, and his which was further up and closer to the center aisle. We'd switch approximately halfway through.

A DJ was playing Beatles covers onstage at low volume. Then they ran video montages on the big side screens with more covers (including Stevie Wonder's "We Can Work It Out" - yay) at louder but still manageable volume. To my left were a couple my age who I never talked to, to my right two guys who came just before showtime with beers (which they were careful not to spill; these guys seemed very nice), and in front of me a woman with long, curly hair.

Finally at around 8:30, Paul (in a bright, blue jacket) and the band walked out. OOOOHHHH! Although security had asked people not to stand (huh? Everyone in back of me was standing, so why not?) we did anyway as "Hello Goodbye" opened the show. At Citi I was 3 seats in and everyone moved into the aisle for more room but they discouraged that here so it was somewhat cramped among the narrow folding chairs. The volume was deafening (much worse than Citi where I was further back on the floor in a side B section) and I inserted my earplugs. There were huge speakers on each side of the stage, so top-dollar floor seats might not be ideal for me. The earplugs muted the sound, but just the vibrations seemed excessive during "Back in the USSR." Maybe I'm overly sensitive, but I still can't believe people like this level of sound.

I kept accidentally bumping my neighbor's long hair, as did the guy next to me, and she kept turning around, annoyed, as we apologized. If she'd pinned it up, we wouldn't have this problem. Found out later that she shushed A and the guys for talking (how could she even hear them above the blasting sound?), and to make matters worse she puffed on a cigarette! (A couldn't tell if it was regular or wacky) And she was annoyed with US? Geez. Other than that, the audience behaved although I smelled something briefly both nights. I had been worried about this, but it was maybe a total of 5 minutes and not a lingering reek, so I could live with that. Still, I wish security would focus on this instead of stopping people from taking video which reportedly was a problem despite the many YouTubes. I don't care what people do, but the law says I shouldn't have to breathe smoky substances. People might think, you go to a rock concert, what do you expect? But this isn't Phish or Dave Matthews, for which I'd certainly need noseplugs to go with the earplugs. Let 'em eat brownies or shrooms or whatever, which doesn't affect the air. If I sound like an old fuddy-duddy, I was also a young fuddy-duddy. Anyway, it was only a very tiny problem.

At "Blackbird," I caught A's eye and we switched, swapping tickets as we passed since they were checking. Turns out that was slightly earlier than the halfway point, but not too far off. While he was befriending my nicer neighbors (I almost didn't find him afterward because they were all taking pictures), I talked in my new seat to the woman and her 20ish daughter to the left, and the man with his 9-year-old on the right. This was the little girl's 4th Paul concert! As in my first seat, people didn't stand for every song, but they stood often enough and I got a little dancing in. As at Citi it was sooooo exciting to see Paul "standing right in front of me" (or several rows in front of me), as the lyric goes (he did sing that). At 69, he still oozes cuteness and charisma, plays multiple instruments like a master, and just really rocks. And he wrote it all! His voice could be a bit rough at times. People constantly marvel how he performs for almost 3 hours without even a glass of water, but maybe he should have that glass of water. Still, he did hit 95% of the notes and is miles ahead of most of today's faux musicians (I'm looking at you, Britney).

If this writeup sounds a bit negative, I don't mean it to be. I was in the presence of greatness, a legend. In fact, I was so thrilled to be there I wanted to do it again the next night even if he sang the exact same songs. Arriving home after another crowded subway ride (where someone on the transfer platform recognized me from "Wordplay"), I hit the Web. I gave myself a $100 limit; besides saving money, the regular stadium seats looked wider than the floor folding chairs, and the sound might be less loud. Ticketmaster had very little (obstructed view? No thanks), but there was a decent selection on StubHub. I hoped to avoid the nosebleed tippy-top (though I'd seen Paul already so would take that in a pinch). There were Field level seats far away from the stage. There were also Main (middle level) seats, and one in section 214A (midway down the field, on the right), 10th row, was listed below face value ($140 at Ticketmaster, $92 on StubHub, including fees) so I grabbed it, printed it out, and was good to go. I checked again the next morning, and all the good stuff was gone so I'm glad I bought when I did.

The next night seemed a rerun of the first. Crowded subway, crowded stadium entry, no inspections. Excitement! This time I walked up the ramp instead of onto the field, up and up. But I was pleasantly surprised that the seat didn't feel that distant, and I looked directly down on the stage. I was hoping to see the piano keys from the right, but the angle didn't work out. I brought binoculars but they didn't have much effect (or I didn't know how to work them) and relied on the big screens for details. There was a huge speaker near me rising up from the field, but the sound of the pre-show was somewhat lower (don't know if they toned things down, or if it was the location). My row had 2 families with kids and an older woman, so it looked promising for non-smoky smells.

Paul and the band again came out around 8:30; he wore a black suit this time. And the set list was different, beginning with "Magical Mystery Tour." It was loud, but not punishingly so. The order had a few more slight differences to keep things fresh. I decided to protect my ears and put in the plugs at "Let Me Roll It" (my least favorite song, though someone in back of me gushed it was her favorite - different strokes). People sat a lot more in my area, so I couldn't dance until the encores. I smelled things very fleetingly, not a big problem. During "Blackbird," a vendor yelled "Cold beer!" and we shushed him up. Way to ruin a quiet song! People online are saying Saturday was better than Friday; hard to judge, but I was definitely happy I went again. One big difference was that in the encore, Billy Joel joined Paul for "I Saw Her Standing There"! The crowd went wild, though I wasn't completely surprised since he'd done the same the first night at Citi.

Online reviews are unanimously glowing. Well, duh! Just Google "best concert ever" and "Paul McCartney." Now that I'm a more seasoned Paul concertgoer, I recognize that he uses mostly the same patter (I could probably quote his stories about Jimi Hendrix and the guitar string, George's ukulele, and the civil rights connection to "Blackbird") and a lot of the same playlist. And that's fine. Should he NOT play "Yesterday" and other heavy hitters in favor of an obscure Wings song (as some online message board writers want)? It was about 1/3 different from what I heard 2 years ago, and I would have been OK even if it was the same. This is PAUL!
Here's the set list(s) with comments. I'm not putting quotes around song titles. I'm too lazy to scour YouTube for the best rendition of each song, so I'll link to them en masse. The video quality is very nonprofessional. For better production values, Good Evening New York City from the Citi concerts is the next best thing to being there at far less cost. I'm even shown (blink and you'll miss it) on the DVD in back of some jumping-up-and-down girls during "Back in the USSR." I haven't found myself in any Yankee Stadium videos, but could be in floor crowd scenes on 7/15. I doubt I'm findable on 7/16 in the balcony. Oh wait, it's not about me but about Paul. Still, it's surreal knowing I'm one of the dots or screams or claps or singers-along in the crowd.

Hello Goodbye (Friday); Magical Mystery Tour (Saturday) - nothing beats the excitement when Paul appears on stage, and these were upbeat openers I hadn't heard live before
Jet (order switched with Junior's Farm on Saturday)
All My Loving - also new to me live
Junior's Farm - let's go, let's go, happy mood
Drive My Car - opened Citi concert so seemed odd here. Was soon "beep beeping" with everyone else.
Sing The Changes - love this (hadn't known it before Citi), but the loudness hurt it the first night. Paul might have gone lower on a few notes (will have to compare to Citi DVD)
The Night Before - never performed before! Brought me immediately back to seeing "Help!" in the movie theater 4 times (in 2 sittings). Loved it
Let Me Roll It / Foxy Lady - eh, wish this would vanish from the set
Paperback Writer
The Long and Winding Road - Paul to the piano to begin the quiet segment
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five - oops, not that quiet. Really liked this Wings song, hadn't heard it live before
Let 'Em In - more Wings, fun and silly
Maybe I'm Amazed - this was new to the set and the song is beautiful, but Paul's voice was not completely up to it either night. I'm sorry, Paul. It was maybe 80% of perfection (watch the video and judge for yourself). Maybe that glass of water would have helped.
I've Just Seen a Face (Friday); I'm Looking Through You (Saturday) - LOVE the first one, and Saturday's choice was good, too - both new to me live
I Will - also new live. Short and oh so sweet
Blackbird - I cried when I heard this at Citi. On Friday I was busy switching seats, and Saturday we had the loud beer vendor, so didn't get the full effect
Here Today - same patter honoring John Lennon, but still touching. He didn't crack as much as at Citi
Dance Tonight - brings the mood back up
Mrs. Vandebilt - LOVE LOVE LOVE this, as do the Ukrainians
Eleanor Rigby - eh
Something - starts out in a rhythmic ukulele version, then segues dramatically to what we're used to. This has grown on me, so gorgeous and sad (aw, George)
Band On The Run - love when guitarist Brian switches to a 12-string
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da - new to me live, everyone sang along
Back In The U.S.S.R. - NYT critic pointed out that Paul has outlasted not only BOAC (referenced in the lyrics) but the USSR itself
I've Got A Feeling - massive LOVE
A Day In The Life / Give Peace A Chance - this is really a John song and kinda druggy (sniffing air), OK I guess
Let It Be - piano, sigh, want to play this
Live & Let Die - fireworks and pyrotechnics seemed wilder than at Citi. The air got hot, Paul looked dazed. Probably scary onstage behind columns of shooting flames
Hey Jude - audience sing-along, na-na-na-na. On Friday, someone had a sign "Hey Paul, I'm Jude" and Paul replied, "Hey, Jude"! (this person posted on a message board that his name actually was Julian and he was called Jude just like Julian Lennon - and he was thrilled Paul read his sign. Paul didn't read signs on Saturday, by the way)
(Encore) Lady Madonna - a fave. I had no doubt there'd be an extensive encore, but the people next to me left on Friday. Hope they were watching from the back somewhere
Day Tripper (Friday); I Saw Her Standing There (with Billy Joel, Saturday) - woo-hoo, Billy! Day Tripper rocked as well
Get Back - another fave. Paul asks, "Do YOU wanna get back?" (Yeah!)
(Encore 2) Yesterday - he couldn't not do this. Audience singing along was a bit distracting
Helter Skelter - somehow the Citi performance of this won a Grammy. Not a fave but he hit the notes nicely for someone who'd just sung for almost 3 hours
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End - the medley from Abbey Road sent chills up my spine. This is new to the set (previously segued into The End from Sgt. Pepper) and really moving. I'm getting chills just writing this

So there it is. Watch the videos and you'll get a flavor of the events (without any annoying neighbors or smells, unless that's what you want). Better yet, see him if he's coming to your town. It's pricy but worth it. I'd "get back" in a minute!
Tags: paul mccartney

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