This is a guest post by author John Cherry. His new book Better Then Lennon has caused a great deal of disturbance in ‘the force’. You can read my review here, and if you are a Beatles fan you can listen in to our fascinating recent round table on discussing the age old question of who was the better musician, John Lennon or Paul McCartney – Simon

On the final stop of his U.S. portion of the “Up and Coming Tour,” Paul McCartney enjoyed another trip to Miami to perform to a near capacity crowd at Sun Life Stadium.

On a cloudless, comfortable night, the show did not start until around 8:30, apparently due to the late arriving crowd that had faced some parking challenges. Wearing a black jacket with slanted red stripes, Paul led the band into the show with “Venus & Mars/Rock Show,” playing an abbreviated version of the latter to lead into “Jet.” After “Jet,” Paul started into “All My Loving.” Brian Ray took over the lead guitar role from Rusty Anderson as scenes from the movie “A Hard Day’s Night” played in the background.

Next came “Letting Go,” a well-received rendition as Brian continued on lead guitar. Backed by Beatles Rock band video of the song in the background was “Got to Get You into my Life,” followed by Paul taking a moment to “drink it all in” from the crowd.  He also thanked the crowd for their welcome and harked back to his initial trip to Miami as a Beatle for the Ed Sullivan Show taping for the February 16, 1964 show. “Highway,” a song from Paul’s last CD, “Electric Arguments” came next. A return to the “Band of the Run” brought “Let Me Roll It,” as Rusty and Paul took shots at the lead guitar for the “Foxy Lady” postlude added to the song.

Back to the piano, Paul dedicated the “Foxy Lady” finish to Jimi Hendrix, and then spoke of his admiration of Hendrix. Pictures of Sonoran Arizona desert scenes highlighted the background as the band performed a crisp arrangement of “The Long & Winding Road,” a performance that sounded much like the 1976 live cut from the “Wings Over America” triple album. Prior to introducing the next “new” song for U.S. audiences, Paul referenced it as a “Wings” song and flashed the familiar Wings sign by touching the ends of his thumbs with his hands spread out.“Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” was a strong crowd favorite and played close to original form, with a shorter extended ending.

“Let “Em In” followed, as drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. and Paul shared the harmonies. As he has done in previous shows, Paul dedicated then “My Love” to Linda and “All the lovers in the audience.” Returning to his acoustic guitar, another new song to the U.S. shows was played with The Beatles’ “I’m Looking Through You,” an effective performance. Another U.S. newbie, “Two of Us,” from the “Let it Be” album followed, and was the first Beatle song of the night in my mind that did not match the quality of the original release. John Lennon’s harmonies in the song proved quite difficult to duplicate by drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr.

In introducing “Blackbird,” Paul told a story about the song being written about the civil rights struggles of the ‘60’s, specifically mentioning Little Rock, Arkansas. As in other U.S. shows, what looked like a moon slowly descended down to stop above Paul by the end of the song. The moon stayed in place as Paul expressed his feelings about writing “Here Today,” calling it “what he wanted to say to John before he passed away.”

To Paul’s right, a model of earth lit up and started to descend before stopping abruptly, and then fading out. Moving from acoustic guitar to the mandolin, Paul did “Dance Tonight.” Returning to the guitar “Mrs. Vanderbilt” was next, and the crowd and the band bounced up and down, and finished with an emphatic “Ho-Hey-Ho” “Eleanor Rigby,” called “simply lovely” in the review by the “Miami Herald,” was a bit slower than normal.

Before beginning a tribute to George Harrison, Paul talked in depth about George’s affection for the ukulele. Noting that he told George he had learned “Something” on the instrument, Paul started the song solo before it was completed it by the full band. The song was a real crowd pleaser, and a significant sing along.  For “Sing the Changes,” images of President Obama outlined the background in various colors.  While this is a great song, I enjoy the studio version better, much like Paul’s 1989 song “My Brave Face.”

A video of the shooting of the album cover for the title song “Band on the Run” played behind the band for crowd pleasing performance. Announcing another “first” on the U.S. Tour, Paul was out front for “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da”, which was a definite crowd favorite. Ironically, this is a song that was not well-liked by the other Beatles, accented by the numerous takes requested by Paul before its completed form. “Back in the USSR” followed, another strong performance and crowd favorite. “I’ve Got a Feeling” added an extra speedy, rocking ending with Paul on lead guitar and repeating the title several times.

Before starting “Paperback Writer,” Paul talked about his Epiphone guitar. The song was a bit faster in the middle. Another tribute to John, “A Day in the Life/Give Peace a Chance” was well done and well-received, and Paul applauded the crowd for their participation.

Back at the piano, Paul started into “Let it Be,” and apparently stumbled briefly on some lyrics.

I have to state that “Live and Let Die” this night was perhaps the best of the many I have seen since 1976. After the final pyrotechnics blast, Paul stood by his piano, patting his heart, shaking his head, and putting his fingers in his ears, followed by some laughing. “Hey Jude” came next, and the crowd started the sing along from the start. After a bow from the band, the first encore began with an edgy, effective “Day Tripper.”  New blue and white lights lit the background for “Lady Madonna.” At the end of the next song, “Get Back,” Paul took a prolonged look at keyboard player Wix, apparently saying “the Blues” to him to note his part in the song.

After another break, the second encore began with “Yesterday,” mostly drowned out by a sing along. A strong, edgy “Helter Skelter” followed, backed by a video of a roller coaster.  “Sgt. Pepper-Reprise” and “The End” concluded the show in near-perfect form, with Paul giving an extra long “YEAH” at the end of the show, followed by the comforting “See You Next Time.” I continue to be astonished that Paul’s shows continue to get better and his endurance appears to be increasing as well. I look forward to the American return of the present “Up and Coming Tour” that will now move overseas.

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