Paul McCartney returns – all the way back


The Beatles’ first of two shows at Fenway traced his career back to its beginnings, but with no signs of slowing down.

Paul McCartney in concert at Fenway Park on Tuesday night. Barry Chin/Personal Globe

Paul McCartney can feel nostalgic, even sentimental.

For one of the rock’s remaining ancestors, this can be difficult to assess.

McCartney, who turns 80 on June 18, has performed for more than three-quarters of his life in front of sweaty crowds – and sometimes downright improvised – locations in his native Liverpool and stadiums and arenas around the world.

And despite his revered musical insight that helped elevate and push second wave rock ‘n’ roll into an enduring, liberated art form, rather than a culture shock fueled by teenage fantasy, too often overlooked in today’s rear view mirror is pure McCartney prowess for performance.

Simply put, the guy knew – and still knows – what the fans want. Whether this is what the man himself wants to play is quite another matter.

Still, there might be something a little more personal, a little more tender than just playing the hits behind Macca’s latest run – aptly named the ‘Got Back’ tour, which hit Fenway Park on Tuesday. and returns Wednesday evening.

The Beatles buzz is common whenever McCartney or Ringo Starr hits the road. But this last list of shows – yes, they are both currently on tour (Ringo just played at the Boch Center last week) – comes after “Get Back”, the film directed by Peter Jackson released on Disney + at the end of last year, giving fans a more complete picture previously notorious band sessions that will culminate in So be it.

At Fenway on Tuesday night, McCartney went through a career-spanning 36-song set, ending with Beatles classics “Can’t Buy Me Love” and closing encore “The End,” which capped off the medley that s fades. 1969 Abbey road.

Between the two was a musical mosaic reminding us why McCartney remains one of the genre’s most colorful pioneers, embellished with plenty of distorted high-pitched screams and punctuated by his tactful “Yeahs” – outbursts forever reminiscent of an idol, Little Richard.

When the band opened “Let Me Roll It,” from their 1973 Wings-backed “Band on the Run” album, McCartney strapped on a Les Paul to play the sharp guitar riff as if to prove he didn’t. was not an octogenarian. And backed by his longtime and formidable backing band, McCartney can still hit those seasoned Everly Brothers harmonies ever present in his catalog.

When a sign from a fan wishing him a happy 80th birthday caught his eye, he joked, “Who is that?”

Indeed, McCartney’s current setlist, stacked with a handful of more recent works – including “Fuh You”, out of 2018 Egypt Station – shows that he has no interest in being parked in the 1960s and 1970s. (Always a globetrotter, McCartney is not Elvis in Vegas).

And he is well aware of what his audience thinks of it.

“We can tell which songs you like,” he told the crowd late in his set, which lasted just over two and a half hours.

As the Beatles hits swept through the speakers, a sea of ​​phones came out of the audience, McCartney explained. He compared the view to a “galaxy of stars”.

When the new songs came out, however, there was a “black hole”, he said.

“But who cares,” he continued. “We will do them anyway.”

Paul McCartney in concert at Fenway Park. (Barry Menton/Globe Stick)

But it’s hard to shake the feeling that McCartney, now late in his life, is more deeply aware of his career’s glorious arc, or perhaps accentuates it a bit more.

An undeniable living legend, McCartney probably had to reckon with his public perception as an untouchable artist like a modern-day Beethoven, rather than a boy who struck gold in a dreary, working-class town on the outer shores of England. .

“In this little harbor there were these four guys who got together, formed a band and ended up doing pretty well, McCartney told the crowd on Tuesday.

Next Month Brands the 65th anniversary of McCartney, 15, meeting John Lennonjoining the latter’s folksy, prickly and completely local musical group, The Quarry Men.

The following year, as McCartney explained, the five-member band that would one day shrink and evolve into The Beatles raised £5 to record their first record, a single 78rpm disc that the boys circulated weekly. . (John “Duff” Lowe kept the pressing for about 20 years before McCartney bought it back from him, with Lowe making “a pretty sizable profit,” McCartney joked.)

With a Martin acoustic guitar, McCartney brought back his childhood playing this track. Written with George Harrison, “Despite all the dangers” is an Elvis-laden teenage plea to meet life’s toughest challenges – “anything you want me to do” – for the sake of a relationship.

McCartney’s mighty backup band joined him downstage for the subdued performance. Behind them stood a backdrop of a tin-roofed shack plucked from 1950s South America, suggesting a juke joint or porch affair that gave rise to the music that would roll in one big chunk that the Britons called it “skiffle”, and would give the Beatles the match to set the world ablaze with rock ‘n’ roll.

At other times, McCartney, standing tall in Beatles boots, vest and drainpipe pants, told stories of landing the band’s first record deal and putting “Love” on tape. Me Do,” admitting he can still hear the nerves in her voice on the song’s solo. abstain today.

His final bandmates were greeted with a ukulele cover of Harrison’s “Something” and a rendition of “Here Today,” the song letter McCartney wrote to Lennon after the latter was killed in 1980.

Offering some advice, McCartney told the audience never to let a moment slip by telling someone you love them.

When he rolled up “Maybe I’m amazed” by McCartneyhis first solo venture in 1970, McCartney pointed to an image of him and his then-infant daughter, Mary, flashing above him on a giant monitor, taken from the album’s back cover.

Mary, he said, now has four children.

“How time flies,” he said with a look of disbelief that didn’t escape the legions of grandparents that filled the house. “Maybe I am surprised !”

Living his whole life in showbiz, McCartney is — finally — starting to look a little older, after all.

His eyes are a bit more tired, although in the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic he is certainly not alone. He’s embraced his grays more in recent years. He wears them well and they are still a bit moppy. In the breeze at Fenway it’s hard not to conjure up a shady sight and you can see it from the much younger man standing in the cold January air on a London rooftop all those winters ago.

Of course, with last year’s Jackson movie, songs like “Get Back” have a renewed style and remain incredibly accessible across the generations gathered into McCartney’s audience. And a belated string of Beatles hits, from “You Never Give Me Your Money” to “Let It Be,” sent a much-needed electric jolt to the rather sleepy midweek crowd that welcomed McCartney to Boston on Tuesday. (Notably, though, signs reading “We love you Paul” enveloped the grandstand earlier in the night, forcing the rocker to stop to “drink it all for me.”)

It’s abundantly clear that the beating heart of McCartney’s career will forever be this legendary collaboration with Lennon – two friends whose ambitions and humor propelled them into the stratosphere of stardom and who have now shaped more than a half -century of popular culture.

As the quintessential core of the “Get Back” sessions – intended to capture the band in a more grounded, less glamorous version – it’s clear that McCartney isn’t interested in creating mythos, but rather in something purer. , more innocent, like The Beatles at their best will always be.

Its encore opening plays it straight. Using isolated vocals and video from the Jackson-produced rooftop concert, McCartney duets, at least virtually, with Lennon for the first time in decades on So be it“I have a feeling,” with Lennon’s line “Everyone’s had a tough year” ringing a little more true during this pandemic.

“It’s beautiful to me,” McCartney said, summing it up afterwards. “Together again.”

McCartney’s full-throated bridge is perhaps even more apt:

All these years I’ve been wandering around

I wonder how come nobody told me

All I was looking for was someone who looked like you

For a few minutes together, the two Liverpool boys sang through the ages, one on a screen above and immortalized in long-haired youth, unsure where this wild ride would take them all next.

Below him stood McCartney, carrying all the life Lennon could never embrace, but he still pondered about £5 worth of recording sessions, a high school band and the music he has made with his friend.

All these years, indeed.

Set list:

1. I can’t buy myself love

2. The Junior Farm

3. Let go

4. I have to let you into my life

5. Come To Me

6. Let Me Roll It (with Jimi Hendrix, tribute to Foxy Lady)

7. Become better

8. Let them in

9. My Valentine

10. One thousand nine hundred eighty-five

11. Maybe I’m amazed

12. I just saw a face

13. Despite all the dangers

14. Love Me Do

15. Dance Tonight

16. Blackbird

17. Here Today

18. New

19. Lady Madonna

20. Fuh you

21. Be for the benefit of Mr. Kite

22. Something

23. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

24. You never give me your money

25. She came in through the bathroom window.

26. Come Back

27. Runaway Group

28. Let It Be

29. Live and Let Die

30. Hey Judge


1. I’ve Got a Feeling (virtual duet with John Lennon)

2. Birthday

3. Helter Skelter

4. Golden Sleep

5. Carry that weight

6. The End

Paul McCartney playing his second night at Fenway Park Wednesday, June 8.

Corina C. Butler