This is a guest article by John Cherry, author of two books about Paul McCartney. – Simon

May 18, 2013
Amway Center-Orlando, FL

An energetic, playful and appreciative Paul McCartney opened the U.S. portion of his “Out There” tour at the Amway Center on May 18th. A packed house of enthusiastic fans enjoyed another outstanding performance by the world’s most successful musician.

An extended sound check delayed the opening of the gates by about 20 minutes. Merchandise booths had plenty of options for McCartney fans.

Arriving on stage to huge applause, and wearing a dark jacket, Paul opened the concert with a song that had never been performed live, reportedly only lip-synched on TV by The Beatles in 1965. “Eight Days a Week” was a marvelous choice to open the show, and it was greeted by a loud roar from the crowd. That enthusiasm seemed to dip a bit with the second number of “Junior’s Farm,” which although performed magnificently, did not maintain the heightened crowd excitement. But, the elation soared again with “All My Loving,” only to seem to dip with the former #1 Wings single, “Listen to What the Man Said.” Following with “Let Me Roll it,” the excitement began to build again, heightened next by “Paperback Writer,” with Paul talking about playing the guitar he originally used when the song was recorded.

Heading to the piano, Paul announced a song for his wife, Nancy, and played the beautiful “My Valentine,” accompanied on the video screen by Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp displaying the lyrics via sign language.

One of my personal highlights came next, as Paul pounded out “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” from the “Band on the Run” album. Added to his song set a few years ago, I hope it will stay on his list permanently. Even though the pace slowed, the crowd still loved hearing “The Long and Winding Road,” performed quite emotionally by Paul. Saluting his late wife, Linda, Paul then dedicated a rocking “Maybe I’m Amazed” to his wife of 29 years.

Although I really like the next song, “Hope of Deliverance,” it seemed like a surprise choice, since it was not a massive single success. But, the band had great fun with it, with all five of them playing guitars and singing on the song. The crowd seemed to enjoy “We Can Work It Out,” as Paul continued on guitar. He also took time to talk about the grasshoppers that invaded his stage at a recent concert in Brazil, laughing about naming one of the invaders as “Harold.”

Another surprise came next with “Another Day,” a 1971 single release that had not been played in the U.S. in some 20 years. Following was the elegant “And I Love Her,” which I remember best from its performance in The Beatles movie, “A Hard Day’s Night.”

Heading to a platform at the front center of the stage, Paul began talking about his next acoustic song “Blackbird.” As he started singing, the platform rose about 15 feet high and a video screen showed the vision of a blackbird flapping his wings. This song has become a definitive crowd favorite since Paul added to his show several years ago. In one of his tributes to John Lennon, Paul talked about writing “Here Today,” as a letter to him after John passed away. The emotional song also started the decline of the raised stage back to the level of the larger stage.

Continuing with what I (after 27 McCartney concerts) thought were unusual song choices, two of the next three songs were “Your Mother Should Know,” accompanied by footage from the “Magical Mystery Tour” album, and “All Together Now.” Again, both enjoyable songs, and it makes me think of the process that Paul uses to choose his concert songs. From my knowledge, it largely is a result of what feels comfortable to him on stage. The song in between these two “newbies” was a popularly received “Lady Madonna.”

“Mrs. Vandebilt,” noted by Paul as the most popular song in Kiev, had the crowd joining in for the “ho-hey-ho” portion of the song. With Paul on acoustic guitar and Paul “Wix” Wickens providing the necessary backing, “Eleanor Rigby” also had lead guitarist Rusty Anderson and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. ably providing the backing vocals. Not to ignore him, but not visible on the song was Brian Ray, who plays both bass and guitar.

A very nice surprise, and done to perfection, was “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.” Although this is mostly a song credited to John Lennon, Paul handled it with aplomb. Bringing out his ukulele, Paul talked about playing the instrument with George Harrison, while also saluting him to the pleasure of the crowd. “Something” began with just Paul on the ukulele, but was finished by the whole band, another show highlight. Engaging the crowd again, Paul asked for a sing along on “Ob-La-Di, Oh-La-Da,” and they responded with enthusiasm. The next three songs, “Band on the Run,” “Hi-Hi-Hi,” and “Back in the USSR” all were excellent and enthusiastically received. Personally I thought “Hi-Hi-Hi” was the best of the three.

The remainder of the show was pretty much identical to recent tours with “Let it Be,” the explosive, raucous “Live and Let Die,” (lots of smoke from the fireworks) and always a crowd favorite, along with the singalong, “Hey Jude,” which then brought on the first encore with a strong “Day Tripper,” and one nice last surprise with “Lovely Rita” from the Sgt. Pepper album. This was followed by “Get Back,” and the second encore of the ever popular “Yesterday, “ the wild ride of “Helter Skelter,” and the concluding collection of “Golden Slumbers,” where Paul seemed to have a hand cramp on the piano, “Carry That Weight,” and “The End.”

Paul continuously thanked the crowd, often noting that it was the first show of the U.S. Tour. He truly seemed loose and playful, really as relaxed and engaged as I have seen him at any show.

John Cherry is the author of two books about Paul McCartney, “Better Than Lennon-The Music and Talent of Paul McCartney,” and “Paul McCartney’s Solo Music Career 1970-2010.” The book is available at betterthanlennon.com (special bonuses included!) and at amazon.com.

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