October 30, 2014
With Pure Voice and Joy, Paul Finishes U.S. Leg of “OUT THERE” Tour
I have attended hundreds of events in Greensboro Coliseum in my life, although most of them were sporting events, having grown up some 50 miles from the site. In recent years, the site has been upgraded, but largely via the attached facilities, such as the Special Events Center.
The doors to the area of the Special Events Center opened about 90 minutes before the scheduled time of the concert, but the crowd was held out of the arena for about 30 minutes, and then once in the arena had to remain in the concourse for another similar time period. As often occurs, the length of the band’s sound check may have delayed the opening, but I still have never experienced such a “stop and start” entry to an event.
Paul walked on stage to a raucous reception, and bowed to the crowd, as well as doing a bit of dancing. For the opener, “Magical Mystery Tour,” all of the lower level crowd was standing. Paul seemed quite happy to be there, showing a big smile. Next on “Save Us,” Paul’s bass seemed to be mixed more up front, which I thought sounded quite good. Before starting “All My Loving,“ Paul said “we’re going to have a little party here tonight.” Paul “Wix” Wickens joined in on guitar, while Paul began reading signs in the crowd. “I see we have a great crowd here tonight,” said Paul, following the song. “Wix” showed off his keyboard skills on “Listen to the What the Man Said,” after which Paul removed his dark jacket for “the only wardrobe change of the night.” Following “Let Me Roll It,” was the Jimi Hendrix “Foxy Lady” instrumental ending, with Paul playing a blistering lead guitar solo. As in previous shows, Paul told of knowing Hendrix, noting they met in London when a girl’s scream in the crowd distracted him. “Was that for London or Jimmy?” Paul said before finishing the story of being proud of Hendrix opening a show with “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band,” only two days after the official release by the Beatles on June 1, 1967.
“Paperback Writer” saw lead guitarist Rusty Anderson high-kicking across the stage, and then he and Paul lowered their guitars in front of the amplifiers after the song to create substantial feedback. Moving to the piano, Paul noted the next song was written more recently, as he dedicated “My Valentine” to his wife Nancy. She was once again in attendance. Paul’s voice was beautiful and pure for this song, as it was for so many others during the show. The piano was also more prominent in the song, a nice touch, as I love hearing Paul “tickle the ivories.” Noting the piano, it was a bit more than tickled for the outstanding “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five,” one of the tour highlights for me. Slowing down a bit, another beautiful vocal was present for “The Long and Winding Road,” which received a substantial crowd reaction. Announced for Linda, his late wife, Paul rollicked up and down the piano keyboard for “Maybe I’m Amazed,” and the crowd stood cheering upon its completion.
The arena lights showed some people with signs, including “Trick or treat, please sign my feet,” which would be seen again much later in the show. After “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” Paul asked the crowd where they traveled from to see the show, and it sounded like more locals were present than others from the state, or from out of state. After asking these questions, Paul addressed the attendees with a southern-like greeting of “Welcome yall.”
A healthy crowd stood and sang along for “We Can Work it Out.” Moving to the 12 string guitar, Paul followed with “Another Day,” as “Wix” again joined in on guitar. After the song, Paul said “this is fun!” A collective sound of “awwwh” greeted the beginning of “And I Love Her,” after which Paul almost tripped while moving to the front stage. He also banged his acoustic guitar on a microphone. Again reading the signs, he noted one from close to the stage that read “My husband’s in the cheap seats, so I can sit here.”
The front of the stage rose as Paul played “Blackbird,” which also had the crowd joining along. A video close up showed Paul wearing a pink NFL wrist band, apparently a recognition of October designated Breast Cancer Month. Announcing “Here Today,” in recognition of John, Paul got a massive response for “Let’s hear it for John.” Once again, the pure voice was ever present.
As the raised stage returned to its initial level, Paul moved to the “magic piano” to lift the mood of the throng with “New.” Before continuing to “Queenie Eye,” Paul spoke of the childhood game from the song title, noting “that was the way we had fun.” The appealing mix was also evident for “Lady Madonna,” highlighting Paul’s skillful playing. “Wix” finished the horn portion of the song with a flourish on the keyboard instrument. “All Together Now” quickly became a partnership with the crowd, after which Paul called it one for the kids, jokingly calling it “one of my more serious compositions.” For “Lovely Rita,” “Wix” and drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr. joined in on kazoos.
For one of the four songs played from Paul’s latest release, New,” he encouraged the masses to join in for “Everybody Out There.” The participation was more evident than other shows I attended, leadi”ng me to hope that more people have recognized the excellence of “New.” Eleanor Rigby” began with a count-in, and once again there was sizable crowd participation. A roar of approval followed the song. Paul acknowledged “Wix’s” work on the complicated keyboard parts.
“Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” was introduced as “the nearest thing we get to Halloween.” But, more than that, it was a near perfect version of the song, including the highlight of Paul’s bass playing. He also recalled the writing of the song in John Lennon’s living room, as the duo used the words from a poster to develop the song.
“My little mate on the bus” was how Paul described his early days of getting to know George Harrison, before he started “Something” on the ukulele. The song transformed into the electric version, and the crowd reaction was powerful. Encouraging people to sing their own part in “Ob-La-Di, Ob- La-Da,” Paul and the band, especially Abe, as well as the crowd, seemed to enjoy the collaboration. Paul applauded the crowd after the song, saying “That was good singing.”
“Band on the Run” was notable for Rusty’s lead guitar work, while his vocal was more prominent on the next tune of “Back in the U.S.S.R.” Paul acknowledged Abe’s drum work by shaking his hand. Perhaps the strangest time of the night followed the song, as a loud buzz filled the building. I assumed it was an equipment issue, but after a few minutes, Paul told the crowd that it even though they may have thought it was part of the show, it was instead a building issue. Being the day before Halloween, Paul stated it was “very creepy,” and may be tied to Halloween ghosts.
Prior to “Let it Be,” Paul told stories of meeting Russian government officials when the band played in that country. The gathering enjoyed the stories related to the Russians learning English from Beatle records. Numerous lights appeared during the song, which was noted by Paul. The peaceful anthem song gave way to the explosive “Live and Let Die,” as Rusty appeared to pass out on the stage, and Paul stood up playing the piano in the latter part of the song. He then moved to the magic piano for the heavy sing along of “Hey Jude,” which led into the first encore.
Upon the return of the band to the stage, with Paul, Wix, and Brian Ray waving the flags of the U.S., U.K. and the state flag of N.C., Paul asked the crowd if they wanted more. Upon hearing a roaring “yes,” Paul said “Me too.” Ray led the group into “Day Tripper” with the familiar guitar opening. Noting there were some birthdays in the crowd, Paul then led the band into “Birthday.” Exciting the crowd, Paul ended the song with a “thank you” and “happy birthday.” A senior citizen in front of me rocked out for the encore finale of “I Saw Her Standing There.” While a few people left at this point, perhaps due to the reputation of the difficulty of exiting the parking area at the arena, most were still there as “Wix” led Paul back onto stage for “Yesterday.” After handing off his acoustic guitar to assistant John Hammel in exchange for his bass, Paul called the lady with the sign of “trick or treat, please sign my feet” onto the stage. After she removed her shoes, Paul sprayed her feet, and then signed a foot. He noted “this is a first…and a last” after which he hugged her, and she left the stage.
Asking the crowd if they wanted to keep going and receiving a resounding yes, Paul said “you asked for it,” and the band lurched into the rocking “Helter Skelter.” Before the finale of “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End,” Paul said “You’ve been a fantastic audience,” but noted that it was time for both the band and the crowd to go home. He also pointed out that the show was the last leg of the U.S. tour for “this year.” Yes, I always look for that sign that Paul will be back again. With spot on vocals to the last, the show was completed with a spraying of confetti. I look forward to the next concert already.
John Cherry is author of “Better Than Lennon-The Music and Talent of Paul McCartney,” and “Paul McCartney’s Solo Music Career 1970-2010.” Visit betterthanlennon.com for more information.