Sunday, July 19, 2009

Paul Opens Citi Field

I caught the first half of yesterday's loss by the Red Sox in Toronto on, and when it was 4-1 I had a feeling it was going to be a Red Sox loss (and it was 6-2). Have you also noticed that every time the Sox play Saturday afternoon games in Toronto and it's not on the MLB package (which it can't be because of those inane Saturday baseball rules) they always lose?

But yesterday was a bigger day in my life. I went to Citi Field for the second of Paul McCartney's shows at the new Mets ballpark. (Paul helped close Shea last summer at Billy Joel's shows, but Billy was only there on Friday night to help Paul open the new joint.)

I landed a ticket on Thursday, after seeing an ad for the shows during his Letterman appearance on Wednesday night. I thought for sure they would be all sold out. I last saw Paul back in 1989 at Madison Square Garden, and it was one of the best concerts I was ever at, so I ponied up some cash for a seat between third and home in the second section above the field to see him a second time.

It was worth every single cent.

The Irish rock group The Script opened at 7:25 PM, and did a spirited 45-minute set. Then after a 45-minute break, Paul and his band came out to a rousing welcome. About 55,000 people were in the house, and it was mostly people a bit older than me, but I did see plenty of younger folks as well. There were two enormous video screens of about 100 feet in height next to the stage, in centerfield of the ballpark. Paul talked about opening Citi Field and his appearances at Shea Stadium in 1965 and 1966, and how the Beatles couldn't hear themselves play because of the screaming girls. (He did that more than once to get the women in the audience to scream.)

He opened with a rocking version of "Drive My Car." Paul has a treasure trove of material he could play, but he divied it up among Beatles, Wings, solo and tracks from the latest "The Fireman" album. He did tributes to both John Lennon and George Harrison. He dedicated "Here Today" to John, and he appeared to be on the verge of tears as the song was concluding. And he pulled out the ukelele to start "Something" and in the middle of the song switched over to guitar with the band. (Funny he never mentioned Ringo once the entire show.)

His band was very tight and were clearly enjoying the night. They were at the top of their game and the audience let them know it. Paul talked in the intro to "Blackbird" that he wrote the song during the height of the Civil Rights movement was thinking of a young black girl when he composed it (I never knew that). It was a night of memories, and especially for some guy sitting a few seats from me, who pulled out a joint when "Eleanor Rigby" started.

The highlight of the night was "Live and Let Die," when at just the right moment of the song, explosions went off and fireworks shot into the sky from the stage. Nicely done. I also enjoyed some of the background film that accompanied a lot of the songs, especially when "Band On The Run" started, as they showed the filming of the album cover shoot from 1973. Good stuff.

Paul did 27 songs in two hours, and never took a break, not even for a glass of water. The band came out and did eight songs in two encores, concluding with a medley of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)" and "The End." The show lasted just over 2 1/2 hours, and I simply had a marvelous time.

Paul sure didn't play like your average 67-year-old. Thanks Paul.

Here is the complete set list from last night, in the order the songs were played:

“Drive My Car”
“Only Mama Knows”
“Flaming Pie”
“Got To Get You Into My Life”
“Let Me Roll It”
“The Long and Winding Road”
“My Love”
“Here Today”
“Dance Tonight”
“Calico Skies”
“Mrs. Vanderbilt”
“Eleanor Rigby”
“Sing the Changes”
“Band on the Run”
“Back in the U.S.S.R.”
“I’m Down”
“I’ve Got a Feeling”
“Paperback Writer”
“A Day in the Life”
"Give Peace a Chance”
“Let It Be”
“Live and Let Die”
“Hey Jude”

Two Encores
“Day Tripper”
“Lady Madonna”
“I Saw Her Standing There"
“Helter Skelter”
“Get Back”
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)”
"The End"

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