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

MAY 22, 2013

Making his first visit to Austin, TX, it was Paul in pink, as he strode onto the stage at the Frank Erwin Center a bit late at 8:45 on Wednesday night. The pink jacket he wore was gone by the fourth song, as “the only wardrobe change of the night.”

The makeup of the crowd was a bit different from the first two shows in Orlando. In the floor seats, which were limited due to the configuration of the arena, I saw mostly a younger crowd, including a number of parents with their kids. They were also more docile than the first two shows and held up very few signs, but there were periodic bursts of energy and excitement.

Prior to the show, my seat gave me a good vantage point to see Paul’s instrument man, John Hammel, hard at work tuning and cleaning the many instruments needed for use in the show. I also notice the two lava lamps, in the ongoing tribute to the late Linda McCartney, located near where Paul “Wix” Wickens would perform on the keyboards and other instruments throughout the evening.

After delighting the crowd with the opener of “Eight Days a Week,” Paul sang strongly on the following “Juniors Farm.” Wix played guitar for the well-received “All My Loving.” After the next song, “Listen to the What the Man Said,” Paul looked at the crowd and said “Texas baby,” generating a hearty cheer from the crowd. Continuing with “Let Me Roll It,” Paul showed Rusty Anderson how he was playing his guitar solo. On the instrumental version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady,” after “Let Me Roll It,” Paul played an extended lead guitar solo. As he showed many times throughout the evening, he is a performer with boundless talent.

After telling the crowd he was playing the same guitar used to record “Paperback Writer,” Paul played another lengthy guitar solo during an extended version of the song. Moving to the piano, Paul announced the next song as written for his Missus, omitting the story behind writing the song “My Valentine” for his wife, Nancy. After the song, he touched his heart and drew a heart in the air with his hands.

A highlight for the third straight show, “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five,” electrified the crowd. Then, an extended piano opening led into “The Long and Winding Road.” After this song, Paul asked the crowd if anybody spoke Spanish. He said he had learned a bit, and ran off a few sentences, then laughed about what he had said.

Announcing the song “Maybe I’m Amazed” as being for Linda, which generated warm applause, Paul had a false start in the song, apparently due to playing the wrong chords. He looked at the crowd and said “What’s the chords?” He restarted and gave Wix a look later in the song to indicate that he had gotten things right on the second try. Calling it a “blank moment,” he told the crowd he would “get it right tomorrow night,” and invited them to return. After “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” he returned to the issue of the mistake and thanked them for not booing him, in fact, instead, giving him a cheer.

“We Can Work it Out” received a nice crowd reaction, but “Another Day” again seemed to pause some of the momentum of the show. I have some other songs to suggest as additions to the playlist in the future, and would like to hear about other recommendations at theory153@yahoo.com.

Once again, “And I Love Her” generated a collective “aw” from the crowd and impassioned applause after it. Moving to the rising front portion of the stage, Paul spoke again about writing “Blackbird” as an observation about U.S. race relations at the time. Arkansas seems to be the state most frequently mentioned in his comments about the song, which again was a significant crowd favorite as Paul sang from the raised platform with the video screen below. After the song, he asked the crowd how many of them had tried to learn to play the song, and there was a pronounced affirmative response from the crowd. Paul responded how cool it was for him to hear that acknowledgement. Also receiving loud applause, before and after the song, was Paul’s tribute to John on “Here Today.”

As part of the reaction from the “different crowd,” the next song “Your Mother Should Know” generated an energetic reaction. In response, Paul danced a bit on stage. Continuing on the colorfully painted smaller piano, Paul apparently doubled up on the verses of “Lady Madonna,” which created an atypical ending to the song. Moving back to the guitar, Paul played around a bit on it, and then, perhaps mindful of his lyrical error, told the crowd he was getting too relaxed. “All Together Now” received an ample response, whereupon Paul exchanged cheers and noises with the crowd. After this, for the third show in a row, the band gave an excellent performance of “Lovely Rita.” I like this song as a new addition to the playlist, and it was moved from the encore the previous shows to earlier in the set.

“Mrs. Vandebilt” got the crowd involved on the “ho-hey-ho” portion, although not to the extent of the previous shows. Wix missed his second sax sound solo on the song, and attested to his omission with a gesture late in the song. Paul and the others jumped around on the song, and Rusty did high leg kicks. After the song, Paul told the crowd that the song was a favorite of the over 350 thousand people in the crowd for a free concert in Kiev some five years ago.

While Rusty and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. walked back and forth to the microphones for their backing vocal parts (guitarist Brian Ray was absent for this song), Paul sang robustly on “Eleanor Rigby.” Announced as “new” for Texas, “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” was again a captivating performance. Afterwards, Paul spoke of how the song was written from a poster at John Lennon’s house during a song writing session with the two of them.

Breaking out the ukulele, Paul told of his playing the instrument with George Harrison, and the crowd reacted loudly before and after the performance of “Something.” Speaking of John, who was not a fan of the song that came next in “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” it continues to be somewhat of a crowd favorite, egged on by Paul’s request for the crowd to sing along with him. There was a standing ovation following it.

Surprisingly, the crowd sat back down for the beginning of “Band on the Run,” although they became more engaged later in the song. Paul danced a bit after the conclusion, and then the beginning of “Back in the USSR” got the crowd back on its feet.

Back to the piano, the crowd sang along with Paul for “Let it Be,” and then reacted with a loud roar after the fireworks and fire of “Live and Let Die,” as well as after the completion of “Hey Jude” that followed. This brought the first encore, which included “Hi, Hi, Hi” for the initial time as part of the encore on this tour, preceded by a popular “Day Tripper.” “I Saw Her Standing There” was dropped after replacing “Get Back” the previous show, which returned as the third song in this encore.

The second encore remained the same with an enchanting performance of “Yesterday,” an exuberant rendition of “Helter Skelter,” and the customary conclusion of “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” with Paul again enjoying his lead guitar solos, and “The End.” After finishing, I was happy to hear Paul say “see you next time,” hoping that meant for a long time past tomorrow’s show in Austin.

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.

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