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

MAY 23, 2013
FRANK ERWIN CENTER-AUSTIN, TX

Oh, what a difference one night can make on a concert tour. In Austin, TX for the second of two shows, Paul was greeted by a much more enthusiastic crowd at the Frank Erwin Center.

Whether upset by a late arrival to the sound check the previous day (or was it the late departure of the crew for Taylor Swift?), or not as able to feed off the crowd’s enthusiasm on Wednesday night, Paul and the band put on a superlative show on Thursday.

Dressed in a darker blue jacket, Paul took the stage around 8:40 PM. Instantly, it was apparent the crowd was more fervent than the previous night. The floor seating seemed to have a much more mature crowd that was spirited throughout the show, beginning with the opening song, “Eight Days a Week.” Paul followed the opener with a hearty Junior’s Farm, staring at his hand during a line relevant to that gesture. He then quickly addressed the crowd with a “Hey Austin, Hey Texas,” before starting to sing “All My Loving,” as Brian Ray took the lead guitar role.

“You’re so cool tonight,” said Paul, after “All My Loving.” He then took his “moment to take it all in,” which the crowd greeted with strong approval. Next was “Listen to What the Man Said,” as Paul goofed around with drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. The blue jacket came off after the song, as Paul wore just a plain white shirt and rolled up his sleeves prior to launching “Let Me Roll It.” In strong voice, Paul also provided an impressive short guitar solo. He continued his guitar solos during the instrumental “Foxy Lady” that followed. Afterwards, he talked about Jimi Hendrix and spoke a bit of Spanish to the crowd, which seemed to temporarily lose their energy. But, that was restored quickly by the playing of “Paperback Writer.”

Moving to the piano, he told the crowd “I wrote this for Nancy,” and the applause reaction encouraged Paul to say “Go Nancy!” After completing “My Valentine,” he thanked Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp for their video backing of the song. Once again a concert highlight, “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” was superb, including a lengthy yell by Paul near the end of the song. During “The Long and Winding Road,” the spectators picked up their enthusiasm toward the end. Having fumbled the start of “Maybe I’m Amazed” the previous night, Paul was focused on getting it right this night. He looked at Paul “Wix” Wickens after the beginning for approval, whereupon Wix nodded, and then egged Paul on the rest of the song, which seemed to help produce a strong vocal performance. The crowd roared its approval.

The first change from the previous night came with a solid rendition of “Things We Said Today,” making its first performance on this U.S. Tour. It replaced “I’ve Just Seen a Face” from Wednesday. The crowd liked the new addition, and after the song, there was more Spanish from Paul, which apparently humored some in the audience that could understand it. The crowd jumped right in to a sing along with Paul as he started “We Can Work it Out.

As he moved to a 12 string guitar for “Another Day,” I wondered if Paul had ever used one on stage prior to this tour. After the song, Paul addressed various areas of the crowd, before beginning the well-received “And I Love Her.” He continued toying with the crowd as he moved to the front of the stage and the rising platform for “Blackbird,” which again generated significant applause. The introduction of “Here Today” brought a huge roar for John Lennon, which Paul seemed to savor a bit. I was asked by the man next to me, an excited Austin record store owner named Bernard, why there were no pictures of John during the song. I did not have an answer; perhaps it is too emotional for Paul.

As the night before, “Your Mother Should Know” garnered a warm reception. Staying at the smaller piano, Paul corrected his doubling of lyrics from the previous evening with an excellent vocal performance for “Lady Madonna.” “All Together Now” seemed to only draw mild applause, but the reaction increased with “Lovely Rita,” with Paul again on his 12 string.

While “Ms. Vandebilt” seemed to be a bit of a beer break song, the band had great fun during it, especially Rusty Anderson with his high kicking. Before “Eleanor Rigby,” Abe mocked Rusty’s movements, as the two of them provided backing vocals to Paul. The crowd joined Paul in singing and saluted him with strong applause afterwards. Acknowledging its place from the Sgt. Pepper album, “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” was next, and it was another fine performance with color lights projected on the ceiling.

Bringing out the ukulele, Paul talked about George, and the crowd stood for the late Beatle. After doing the combo solo and band version of “Something,” Paul turned for a few seconds to the video screen to see a picture of George.

Telling the crowd there was a special space for them to sing along in a “fine Texas song,” Paul played “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” and the spectators joined him in the chorus. “Band on the Run” had Paul quite animated and dancing, and then he waved his arms like an airplane flying prior to the start of “Back in the USSR.” This generated some of the loudest applause of the night. Paul talked about meeting Russian officials and their learning of English from Beatle records before starting “Let it Be” on the piano. This song also received a standing ovation.

As always, “Live and Let Die” electrified the crowd, and then crowd largely joined in on “Hey Jude.” I took a few looks around and read signs like “I Like Your Butt,” “Such a Joy, Joy,” and “I need a hug and a autograph.” The sing a long for “Hey Jude” was powerful, and the band left before returning for the first encore. Paul came out with the Texas flag, Wix with the British flag, Abe a skull and crossbones towel, and then before jumping into “Day Tripper,” Paul told the crowd “You are hot tonight.” Brian took the lead guitar for “Day Tripper,” and after the song Paul said he was high on life. He then told the crowd “let’s rock this joint” before the start of “Hi, Hi, Hi,” which did not receive as strong a response as it did in Orlando.

After exchanging noises with the crowd, Paul fired up a rocking “I Saw Her Standing There,” which was another change from the previous night of “Get Back” in the encore. This led to the second encore, with the standard “Yesterday” that brought out a number of audience lights. After the song, Paul asked the crowd if they wanted to keep rocking. Getting a positive response, he said “OK,” and then took off with a potent “Helter Skelter,” with Wix playing guitar.

Telling the crowd, “you guys know how to party,” Paul then thanked the crew and the band for their great assistance. The show then finished with “Golden Slumbers,” Carry That Weight,” and “The End.” Paul seemed to really enjoy his guitar solos. He thanked the crowd and said “we’ll see you next time” to the packed house as the concert ended. Another fantastic show, and now I look forward to Indianapolis.

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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