Paul McCartney, as photographed on the video screen. The shot of the Hollywood Bowl and fireworks were taken during "Live and Let Die."
I still can't believe that it has been more than 40 years since The Beatles broke up, and nearly 50 years since the Fab Four arrived on the international stage.
Watching 67-year-old Paul McCartney tear through a mind-boggling set of material dating from the early 1960s to the dawn of this century in a sold-out show at the Hollywood Bowl last night (Tuesday, March 30) was worth the ticket price for sure. But what is even more impressive is how McCartney and his music (whether performing his own songs, or gems penned by John Lennon and George Harrison) defy the "here today, gone today" mindset of modern-day celebrity and pop culture.
Although I was seated way in the back of the gigantic venue (I purchased my tickets through American Express pre-sale and despite getting online immediately, got terrible seats), McCartney and his strong four-man band delivered magic for close to three hours.
While McCartney's best-known staples were all delivered in fine form ("Let It Be," "Hey Jude," "Yesterday"), it were many of the alternative choices that delighted me most. I first caught McCartney live with his band Wings back at the Forum in the late 1970s (I think it was in 1976) and he played few Beatles songs at that show. Nowadays, McCartney raids music's most illustrious catalog and we fans can only shout (and sing along) at our good fortune.
On Tuesday night, McCartney offered up a two-tier take on Harrison's "Something." He began the song alone accompanied by the actual ukulele (a small four-string musical instrument) given to him by Harrison before the rest of his band came in with an arrangement resembling the version on Abbey Road. Lead guitarist Rusty Anderson provided the wonderful solo.
A few songs later, McCartney noted that he was going to perform a song he had not played on tour in America until this current one; what followed was a lively, feel-good "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" that pleased kids of all ages.
He also performed Lennon's haunting lines in "A Day in the Life" (as well as his own), before going into a crowd-rousing "Give Peace a Chance" in tribute to his old bandmate.
But what made this show particularly memorable for me was the inclusion of more rare stuff.
When it came to choice Beatles tracks, there was "Two Of Us" and an extended "Paperback Writer."
One of my favorite songs from the Wings era is a great soulful rocker "Letting Go" from his Venus And Mars album. And while the original recorded version boasts a horn section and had a slight funk groove, the guitar-anchored take offered up at the Hollywood Bowl was fantastic.
Sir Paul and company even kicked off the night with the title track from that great disc, a song that boasts the apt lyric "rock 'n' roll at the Hollywood Bowl." And there is no doubt that the Bowl's incredible outdoor setting was the perfect place to stage the dazzling fireworks that soared into the cold night as the band rocked out playing "Live and Let Die."
It takes a lot to drag me up to the Hollywood Bowl on a weeknight, to fight the gridlock and fork over $21 to park (no kidding! I paid just over $11 for my ticket to see McCartney & Wings 35 years ago!), but this was a concert experience I'll always remember. A Magical Mystery Tour indeed.
Here is the setlist from Tuesday (the concert began at 8:13 p.m. and ended at 11 p.m.):
1) Venus and Mars
3) All My Loving
4) Letting Go
5) Got to Get You Into My Life
6) Highway (The Fireman)
7) Let Me Roll It
8) Foxey Lady (a short instrumental jam of the Jimi Hendrix classic)
9) The Long and Winding Road
10) Nineteen-Hundred and Eighty Five
11) Everything's Fine
12) My Love
13) I'm Looking Through You
14) Two Of Us
15) Here Today (a moving tribute to John Lennon)
16) Dance Tonight
17) Mrs. Vanderbilt
18) Eleanor Rigby
20) Sing the Changes (Fireman)
21) Band on the Run
22) Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
23) Back In The USSR
24) I've Got a Feeling
25) Paperback Writer
26) A Day in the Life
27) Give Peace a Chance
28) Let It Be
29) Live and Let Die
30) Hey Jude
31) Day Tripper
32) Lady Madonna
33) Get Back
35) Helter Skelter
36) Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Reprise
37) The End