This is a guest article by John Cherry
OCTOBER 25, 2014
VETERAN’S MEMORIAL ARENA
This show felt a bit more intimate than in New Orleans, a bit of a smaller arena, but a nice venue. In the pre-show music, I heard a version of “My Love,” that was new to me. A bit more upbeat, it did not seem appropriate for such an intimate love song. Nevertheless, the show started a bit late than the normal 8:30 opening. The crowd was not late in arriving, so I suspect that sound check must have run a bit late.
If you were wondering what Paul was doing during the short break between his previous show in Nashville on October 16th, and the Jacksonville performance, he told the crowd midway through the concert that he had spent the time in Florida. “Disney World, man. I rode more rides than I had ridden..in my whole life.” He seemed quite happy about his experience.
Clad in an ivory jacket with white shirt and trim, the show began this time with “Magical Mystery Tour,” instead of “Eight Day’s A Week” that I saw in New Orleans. Paul looked impassioned about his bass playing in the opening number. With Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray on either side of Paul, they launched into “Save Us.” After a thumbs up to the crowd, Paul welcomed the gathering with a “Hey, Jacksonville, Florida.” Then, “All My Loving” delighted the fans, and Paul told them “it was good to be back, thank you.” As like other shows, he took a few moments to “drink it in,” apparently savoring the loud and appreciative applause. “Listen to What the Man Said” was followed by the removal of the ivory jacket, “the only wardrobe change of the night,” per Paul.
The fans in the floor seats and on the sides closest to the stage were on their feet for much of the show, and enjoyed “Let Me Roll It,” with Paul “Wix” Wickens using much of his body to accentuate the keyboard parts of the song. Following the song, Paul played a sharp solo as part of the instrumental “Foxy Lady” tribute to Jimi Hendrix. Speaking warmly of Jimi, he said it was “pretty cool” that he had led off his show on June 3, 1967 with the Hendrix version of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. This was just two days after the release of Sgt. Peppers.
Paul also had an extended guitar solo portion in “Paperback Writer,” which ended with both he and Rusty creating several moments of feedback with their guitars close to their amplifiers. After handing off his 1962 Epiphone guitar to assistant John Hammel, Paul went to the piano to dedicate “My Valentine,” to his wife, Nancy, who was again in attendance. And, also once again, the following song “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five,” was one of my favorites of the night, and the whole band seemed energized by the song.
Slowing down a bit, Paul continued on the piano with “The Long and Winding Road,” which received a very warm crowd reception. Dedicated to his late wife, Linda, Paul launched into a powerful version of “Maybe I’m Amazed,” egged on by Wix during certain portions of the song. Many fans stood after this one, which Paul acknowledged with a “Thank you folks in Jacksonville.”
Upon returning to the guitar, Paul asked the attendees where they were from, and it seemed to be a significant mix of locals and those from outside the state, based on their response. “I’ve Just Seen a Face” got the crowd clapping, and singing along as well. After “We Can Work It Out,” Paul took some more time to soak up the crowd’s response, and then spoke of his fun time in Florida.
Joined by Wix on guitar, “Another Day” was a sharp performance, and the complete band seemed to enjoy it. After asking the crowd if they were having a good time, Paul spoke about the signs exhibited from the seats. He then read a few of the signs, shielding his eyes by hand, noting those reading “You were my first love,” then “sign my back,” followed by “sign my butt,” which Paul responded jokingly with “Let’s have a look.”
A gasp of appreciation greeted “And I Love Her,” again done beautifully by Paul, while Rusty’s solo was warmly applauded. Paul walked up to the front of the stage after the song, exciting the crowd with a “Yee-hah!” Recalling the civil right struggles in America in the 60’s, Paul talked about the creation of “Blackbird” as a message to those caught in the struggle. A ringing sound of approval and appreciation followed the song.
Before starting “Here Today,” the tribute to John Lennon, I wondered if the fact that the show was in Jacksonville would affect Paul. As written previously, a night in Jacksonville when John and Paul were in The Beatles is credited to the “night we cried” that is present in the lyrics. If it did affect Paul, it only showed in the fact that he sang the song in great voice.
Trying to “brighten the mood” Paul moved to the psychedelic piano for “New,” which is a personal favorite of mine. From the people knowledgeable of Paul’s recent music, there was significant applause. Before moving to “Queenie Eye,” which seems to be gathering interest at the shows, Paul talked about the chorus and its tie to a childhood game he played. Staying at the piano, Paul declared “this is not a new one,” before jumping into “Lady Madonna,” where the crowd sang along on the line “see how they run,” and the song roared to a strong finish.
Returning to the acoustic guitar, Paul introduced “All Together Now,” as one from “Yellow Submarine.” Two rows of colorful objects that I had not seen previously danced across a narrow video screen above the front of the stage. At the song’s conclusion, Paul declared it “one for the kids.” Next was “Lovely Rita,” with Rusty and Paul trying to outdo each other a bit on the backing noises on the song.
“This ones about you,” declared Paul, before starting up with “Everybody Out There.” As in New Orleans, Paul exhorted the crowd to join in a response portion of the song, and then added a coda for a sing along of “woha-oh-oh’s.” “Eleanor Rigby,” next up, received significant applause.
“Also from Sgt. Pepper,” came “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,“ with Wix ably handling the sounds effects of the song from his keyboards. The crowd enjoyed this one, and Paul noted their enthusiasm.
While Paul’s salute to George Harrison received the normal loud cheers, I did not sense as strong a response as usual for “Something,” started as usual with just Paul on the ukulele. “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” was offered as a “song you sing with us,” which the crowd did in fine fashion. Paul offered his own applause for the crowd’s participation. He returned to talking about signs, noting one that read the attendee was at his 96th McCartney concert. Paul responded jokingly that it was more than he had attended.
“Band on the Run” saw Paul joking around with Abe Laboriel, Jr. as he played the drums, and again with Wix. A roar of approval then met “Back in the U.S.S.R.,“ which was a rocking version of the tune. As Paul returned to the piano, he told the story of meeting Russian government officials, who told him they learned English from Beatle records. The crowd laughed along with Paul. “Let It Be” was greeted with applause and the many lights exhibited in the crowd, and most in the throng sang along as well.
Hearing it for the second time, I like the added new intro to “Live and Let Die,” which has never failed to push the crowd into frenzy in the 33 times I have seen it performed. After the fireworks and explosions concluded, Paul walked around the stage putting his fingers in his ears to playfully let the crown know it had been quite loud on the stage.
The first finale, “Hey Jude,” had both Wix and Brian Ray playing tambourine, although Brian tossed his off the stage early in the song. The backing vocals seemed more prominent in this song, as well as many others, which was pleasant to hear. The song finished with Paul away from the piano in front of a microphone exhorting the crowd in the sing along. Another highlight was the pronounced bass playing by Brian in the latter part of the song.
The first encore was kicked off by Paul carrying a U.S. flag, Brian the State of Florida flag, and Wix the U.K. flag. Paul took a bow, noted the crowd was hot, and Brian led the band into “Day Tripper.” The symbol for the “New” album flashed in various colors on the backing video screens. Upon conclusion, Paul said “you’re a great crowd,” and he called for a fan from the crowd. A lady, probably in her late teens or early 20’s, named Nadia, came on stage with a two sided sign that read “I Can’t Keep Calm, I’m seeing Paul McCartney,” on one side and “sign my back for a tattoo” on the reverse side. Before signing, Paul asked Nadia if her Mum would okay the signing, and she said yes and pointed her Mum out in the floor seats. Mum gave her approval, and Paul signed his name on Nadia’s upper shoulder.
“Hi, Hi, Hi” returned to the encore, and Paul acknowledged Abe’s performance late in the song. After noting “Jacksonville, you’re hot,” Paul counted off into “I Saw Her Standing There,” which inspired a standing crowd singing in unison.
The crowd was still standing for the second encore, and they also sang along with Paul on “Yesterday.” Moving back to the bass guitar, Paul said “I sense you want to keep on rocking.” “Helter Skelter,” with an animated Rusty bouncing around the stage, set the stage for the finale medley of “Golden Slumbers,’ “Carry That Weight,” and “The End.” Before it, Paul thanked the crowd for the welcome back, and his crew for all its good work. As has become the practice, the fans booed Paul’s announcement that it was time to go home. While not an advocate for booing in this case, I did share that sentiment, not wanting the night to end. I am glad that the Greensboro show is only a few days away, but said that the U.S. portion of the tour may be coming to an end.
John Cherry is the author of “Better Than Lennon-The Music and Talent of Paul McCartney,” and “Paul McCartney’s Solo Music Career-1970-2010.” Visit betterthanlennon.com or Amazon.com for more book information