Wednesday, August 5, 2009

An Evening With Paul McCartney @ Fenway Park

My article on the late William F. Buckley, Jr. and his disdain for The Beatles went up today.

Just in the nick of time for Paul McCartney's concert tonight at Fenway Park in Boston.

This is the first time I've gone to Fenway for anything other than a baseball game. In recent years, Fenway has been hosting concerts with acts such as Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffett, the Rolling Stones and Dave Matthews. But this is the first time I've attended any of the Fenway concerts.

The stage was situated in centerfield with the audience in the outfield and in the grandstands. The infield was cordoned off. The logistics involved in putting together a concert like this must be mind boggling. Regardless of the logistics the outfield will look awful when the stage is taken down.

Paul McCartney has a remarkable constitution for a man of 67. He is 30 years older than I am and I probably couldn't keep up with him. The man has enormous energy. I'm sure his vegetarian diet plays a role. But McCartney is a man who usually has a smile on his face and no doubt that helps out too. Rumors of his retirement are greatly exxagerated.

Well, whatever he does it's working. McCartney played a 2½ hour show with two encores. Here are a few highlights.

After playing "Let Me Roll It" from Band on the Run, McCartney and company launched into an impromptu version of "Foxy Lady" by Jimi Hendrix. He then told a story about how Hendrix played songs from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in a concert two days after its release. Hendrix blew out his guitar while playing and asked, "Eric, can you come up and tune the guitar?" The Eric in question was Eric Clapton.

McCartney also told a story about "Blackbird." He said the song was inspired by racial tensions in the U.S. in 1968 and that the "blackbird" represented a black girl. He noted that things in the U.S. have come a very long way. McCartney then played the song solo on his acoustic guitar accompanied only by the singing in the audience.

Naturally, he paid tribute to both John Lennon and George Harrison. His tribute to Lennon came in the form of an acoustic solo rendition of the song "Here Today" which appeared on his 1982 solo album Tug of War. As for Harrison, McCartney replicated something he did when I saw him in concert in 2005 and first did during The Concert for George in November 2002. He played the first part of "Something" on the ukelele before reverting to a more conventional arrangement. Given WFB's affection for the ukelele if he had heard this interpretation of this song perhaps he would have been more receptive to The Beatles.

A surprise addition to the concert was another song off Band on the Run called "Mrs. Vandebilt." If the song title doesn't ring a bell then perhaps the refrain "ho hey ho" might. If that still doesn't ring a bell you can check it out here when he played it in the Ukraine last year.

The special effects utilized during "Live and Let Die" were spectacular.

Of course, there were many songs where people just sang along as was the case with "Yesterday", "Let It Be" and, of course, "Hey Jude." The kids were doing it too. Like I pointed out in the article there are now Beatles fans who were born after George Harrison died. There was one fan at the concert who had sign identifying her as being all of seven years old. If there kids in the audiences who weren't Beatles fans before the show they sure are now.

McCartney plays one more show at Fenway tomorrow night. He will then play shows in Atlanta, Tulsa and Arlington, Texas later this month.

If you have an opportunity to see Paul McCartney in concert, please go. And take your kids or grandkids, if applicable. Not only will a splendid time be had by all but you leave the sports arena with a smile.

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