I've heard rumors that aging greats on tour are often a bit lackluster, their voices and physical capabilities on instruments limited by the passage of time. So, I approached the Paul McCartney "Got Back" show at Dickies Arena with hope, excitement, and optimistic caution.
My reluctance was in vain. For two and a half hours Sir Paul McCartney was jumping, jogging up and down steps to his piano and, at one point, running back and forth across the stage with a massive Ukrainian flag. It was a very "War is Over (If You Want It)" vibe. John Lennon would've been proud.
The concert opened with a bang with "Can't Buy Me Love." Five songs into the show, after playing 2018's ear-worm "Come Onto Me," McCartney took off his jacket and everybody screamed. The guy is days away from turning 80 and, look, he's a hot 80. That's not a sentence I ever saw myself writing. Anyway.
The first tribute he paid in the show was to the late, great Jimi Hendrix. He recounted the release of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" on a Friday, and Hendrix learning it and opening his show with it by Sunday.
Then, the stage began to rise and the graphics turned into a starry night sky, blending McCartney with the audience, in a way. He sang "Blackbird" with a glittering bird flying all around, then asked the crowd who'd tried to learn that song on guitar. After the cheering died down he yelled, "And you all failed!" Laughs of defeated agreement filled the audience. Paul 1, everyone else 0.
After "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" he told the song's simple origin story: he was sitting in some room that had a circus poster that read that title, and underneath mentioned Henry the Horse. So, they made a song about it. That's right! Paul McCartney, the poster, and drugs all have writing credits. Just kidding.
"Get Back" director and Beatles stan Peter Jackson isolated Lennon's voice in "I've Got a Feeling" so McCartney could sing with his friend again, which was moving. Earlier in the show McCartney played "Here Today" in memory of Lennon, and cited the sadness of it being historically socially unacceptable for men to say how they feel. Released in 1982, he described it as a letter that turned into a song. After the final strum he gave the audience a piece of rueful advice: "If you've got stuff to say to a friend, mate, partner... get it said."
Of course, Lennon wasn't the only bandmate McCartney honored. A loving compilation of videos of George Harrison played behind McCartney as he sang Harrison's "Something" off of Abbey Road. He opened the song strumming a Gibson ukelele, a treasured gift from Harrison.
He paid tribute to the Beatles' humble Liverpool beginnings as "The Quarrymen" with their 1958 demo "In Spite of All the Danger." Holy country, Gene Autry called. With one copy of the demo, each bandmate kept it for two weeks before passing it on, with one exception: John Duff Lowe, AKA Duff, kept it for 20 years. Dammit, Duff! That investment aged like a fine wine.
Sir Paul hit us with another 2018 Egypt Station banger "Fuh You," with the striking music video portraying the elation of young love playing in the background. About his newer songs, McCartney joked, "We know what songs you like. When we play a Beatles song, your phones light up like a galaxy. When I play anything else, it's like a black hole." The man has a sense of humor, something he says has been critical in his life.
When he sang "My Valentine," the intro was a sweet dedication to Nancy Shevell. "My wife is here tonight. This one's for you, Nance." And to that I say, welcome to Fort Worth, Nance!
McCartney played some more Beatles favorites throughout the night including "Got to Get You Into My Life," "Getting Better," "We Can Work it Out," "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," "Love Me Do," and "Let it Be."
The last song before the encore was the perfect conclusion of "Hey Jude." It's always electric with audience participation, especially for such a beloved, iconic song. There was a point when McCartney and his band stopped, and just let the stadium take over "Na na na nananana, nannana, hey Jude." The encore concluded with "Birthday," "Helter Skelter," and "Carry That Weight."
Then, like the Great and Powerful Oz, McCartney yelled "See you next time!" and disappeared into a literal cloud of smoke as confetti poured down.
"Key" Thoughts and Questions in Real-Time:
This is awesome.
Who does Paul's hair?
Wait, is "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window" about a sly lover or a terrifying fan?
What's Paul's skincare routine?
Do people not know that turning on your flashlight on your phone does nothing for your video, and everything to blind/annoy people around you?
Guys, shouldn't we be securing Paul to something as this platform-stage-thing rises high into the air?
Phew. He's safe.
I like Paul's jazzy shoulder dance.
Am I into octogenarians now?
What's Paul's cardio routine to have the endurance for these shows? If he was on Cheer, he'd make mat for Daytona.
I feel so lucky to be here.
This popcorn is delicious!
I wish my dad, owner/publisher of Fort Worth Key for 28 years, could be here. (Don't worry, he's still with us! He was just out of town.) He's the one who introduced me and my brothers to the Beatles as children. I groaned as he pulled out that iconic red CD with a yellow "1" on it, giggled during "Yellow Submarine" and, finally, developed an affinity for "Eleanor Rigby." At last, I appreciated the Beatles and their musical prowess and influence, and even though he's not here to enjoy it with me, thanks, dad.
And thanks, Paul! Don't wait another 46 years to return to Fort Worth. Y'all come back now, y'hear?
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