This is a guest article by John Cherry, author of two books about Paul McCartney. – Simon
ORLANDO, FL-MAY 19, 2013
As might be expected with any artist doing back to back shows, especially those lasting nearly three hours, the second show is usually less energetic than the first one. Such was the case, albeit very slightly, on the second night of Paul McCartney in concert at the Amway Center in Orlando.
The video screen that accompanied the pre-concert music of largely The Beatles, Wings, and solo McCartney had even more interesting pictures than previous shows I had attended, including a heavier emphasis on Wings.
A totally packed arena welcomed Paul about 8:30. He was wearing a classy Carolina blue (I went to UNC) jacket and jump started the crowd with the opener of “Eight Days a Week.” As was true with the previous night, the crowd’s momentum was on a bit of a roller coaster with “Junior’s Farm” coming second, “All My Loving” third, and “Listen to the What the Man Said” as the fourth tune. After that song, Paul ditched his jacket and was wearing a light blue shirt with navy trim. As the show wore on, Paul exhibited signs of increased perspiration. After tossing the jacket, he stood before the crowd to “drink it all in,” and the crowd roared their appreciation back to him.
As was true several times during the night, guitarist (mostly lead) Rusty Anderson and the versatile Brian Ray (bass, lead and rhythm guitar) had a good laugh as Paul improvised a short guitar solo during “Let Me Roll It.” The end of the song came with an extended guitar portion of Jimi Hendrix’s song “Foxy Lady.” Paul paid tribute to the late performer by telling the story of Hendrix leading his concert off in June 1967 with The Beatles “Sergeant Peppers Lonely Heart’s Club,” only two days after the official release of the album by the same name.
Using the same guitar that he did to record the song originally, Paul and the band did “Paperback Writer,” including an extended guitar solo in the middle portion. The video screen behind them focused on nurses during the song.
Prior to moving to the piano and playing the song he dedicated to his wife, Nancy, Paul talked about how “My Valentine” was written while they were together on a rainy day of a holiday. Once again, the song that followed, “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five,” was a highlight of the night. Always a crowd favorite, “The Long and Winding Road,” was played with a video background of what was likely Arizona, where Paul has had a house for a number of years.
Dedicating it to Linda, Paul continued with “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which featured many family pictures on the video screen. He improvised a number of expressive piano parts to the song, to the delight of the gathering. The first song change from the previous night came with “I’ve Just Seen a Face” replacing “Hope of Deliverance,” which probably was a nod to those of us that were attending both shows.
Before “We Can Work it Out,” Paul asked the crowd how many of them were from Orlando and how many were not from Orlando. I sensed a slight majority of hometown attendees, but also noted that the two ladies to my left had traveled from Angola to see the show, and the family behind me had come from the New York area. More on them later. During “We Can Work it Out,” drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. played the tambourine with one hand and the drums with the other. After this song, I saw a clear sign of the difference of Paul’s energy level as he took a deep breath while handing his guitar to his instrument man, John Hammel. Paul was handed a 12 string guitar to play “Another Day,” another song that somewhat lessened the crowd’s enthusiasm. The energy was boosted again with “And I Love Her,” which brought a collective response of peaceful joy from the crowd.
Moving back from the 12 string to his regular acoustic guitar, Paul acknowledged a bizarre scream off the right side of the stage. His own portion of the front stage began rising after Paul told of writing “Blackbird” upon hearing of the civil rights struggles in the U.S. during that time. The stage rose some 15 feet or so above the crowd, and a flower shown on the video screen of the elevated stage until near the end of the song when the image of bird flying came out of the background. This song has become a clear crowd favorite.
While talking about John Lennon, Paul said he wrote “Here Today,” as words that he wished he had said to John before he was shot and killed in 1980. This song is emotional for Paul, and he touched his heart afterwards, as the elevated stage returned to its original level.
Sitting before the smaller piano with the Magical Mystery Tour painted design on it, Paul introduced “Your Mother Should Know” as a song for the mothers and kids. During the song, the video screen showed the families of the late Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy, as well as Michelle Obama and her two children. The famous videos then continued during “Lady Madonna,” although they were more focused on musical performers.
Back at his guitar, Paul stood before the crowd and seemed to have a few seconds of confusion, calling it a “blackout,” before starting what he called an “intellectual offering” of “All Together Now.” Paul “Wix” Wickens played harmonica on the song. As I noted in the previous night’s review, I think this is a peculiar song choice for a concert, but I also know Paul should play whatever the hell he wants to play!
Before “Mrs. Vandebilt,” Paul seemed to rap a bit. The sing-along portion of “ho-hey-ho” again secured audience participation, while Rusty and Brian hammed it up on the stage. Paul noted the song was a favorite of the Ukranians, or, as he called them, the “Ukies.”
Minus Ray, “Eleanor Rigby” was next, with Abe and Rusty doing the backing vocals and Wix handling the music, outside of Paul’s acoustic guitar. Another song new to the U.S. until the previous night, “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” was performed flawlessly and one of my favorites for the night. Bringing out his ukulele, Paul talked about carrying one with him in New York, as it was easier to carry in a cab than a regular guitar. He talked about playing “Something” for George Harrison during one of their visits, and then started that song with it, prior to the second half of the song being done by the full band. This was a significant sing along song for the crowd, and the video screen had excellent pictures of George and Paul in the studio. After the song, Paul led the crowd in an exchange of cheers and noises, before cutting it off and laughing deeply.
Another sing along came with “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” which I enjoyed by seeing the young female teenager sitting next to me sing enthusiastically. The sing along continued with “Band on the Run. Riding a wave of enthusiasm, “Back in the U.S.S.R” also soared, complete with original sound effects.
Returning to the larger piano, the always popular “Let it Be” was followed by the raucous “Live and Let Die,” complete with the crowd pleasing fireworks and explosions….and a lot of smoke. Paul played wildly on the piano, while Rusty and Brian jumped around on the stage. Back to the smaller piano, Paul launched the biggest sing-along with “Hey Jude.” The crowd participation was extremely substantial. This led to the first encore, as Paul came back waving the state flag of Florida, and then asked the crowd “How could we stop now?” “Day Tripper” was well-received, as was the follow up of “Lovely Rita,” another new song for the U.S. tour. Asking the crowd if they wanted to keep going, Paul counted in “I Saw Her Standing There,” replacing “Get Back” from the first show.
Returning for a second encore, the crowd largely sang along as Paul did “Yesterday.” He then asked the crowd if they wanted to keep rocking, which they did, of course, and he broke into “Helter Skelter,” a near perfect rendition of the original recording.
Back at the large piano, Paul told the crowd it was time to go, which received the expected negative response. He thanked them for a “brilliant welcome,” before starting the concluding medley of “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “The End.”
It was different than the first night, but I had great fun with the two lovely ladies next to me who came from Angola for the show. From the family from the New York area behind me, the mother told me of her seeing Paul in concert nearly every tour since he started in 1976, the same year I first saw Paul. Lastly were the teenage daughter and her father on my other side. He told me she had learned to love The Beatles and Paul on her own. It’s nice to see such great taste in a young lady. It’s off to Austin for me!
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.” They are available at betterthanlennon.com with bonuses included, and additionally at Amazon.com.