Paul McCartney @Wrigley

“And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.” These were the words that closed Paul McCartney’s awe-inspiring 3-hour set Sunday night at the historic Wrigley Field. In an era that’s seen the rise of the monotonous indie-rocker, aspiring musicians could all learn a lesson from McCartney on how to serve up a menu of hits with a ferocious energy, apparently, unbridled by years.

Paul was in top form Sunday night and showed no signs of the rust that has grounded many of his contemporaries. He’s built arguable the greatest catalog of music in rock history, flogged audiences across the world for the past five decades and, yet, here he was standing, for the first time, in front of a sold-out Wrigley Field audience. And for his part, McCartney relished the moment during the 35-song marathon.

It’s clear that after years of touring, he has perfected the balance of mixing fan-adored hits with poignant stories that seem highly improbable until you remember that he is a living Beatle who’s authored songs that transcend time, language and political barriers. To his credit, McCartney’s concert seemed one of a kind in that there were no barriers: there were kids, tweens, hipsters, nerds, baby boomers, and some platinum status ARDC members. And you know what? They all loved him; McCartney’s Chicago’s new Ferris Bueller.

I had the distinct impression that there was no where else in the world that McCartney would rather be than onstage in front of an audience. The best part about that is somewhere in the world, a new audience feels that same thing probably every night of his tour. At 69, he’s certainly got nothing left to prove but it was readily apparent that he was onstage because he wanted to be.

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McCartney was right at home with a beaucoup of instruments at his disposal. He rifled off tunes from a number of guitars including his signature Les Paul bass (no doubt, a million dollar guitar that he wielded around like a sword), a Hedrix Stratocaster, a ukele and even an accoustic guitar bearing a Detroit Red Wings logo. And that was just the stringed instruments, he also shifted to one of two pianos that he used to perform some of his most famous ballades including Hey Jude and Let it Be and the Long and Winding Road. “If you’re wondering why we have all these guitars here, it’s because we’re showing off,” he quipped.

And that’s exactly what the masses paid top dollar to see: the recession-proof McCartney show off on a stage set within the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. There were lights, fireworks and freakishly high resolution cameras, but in the end, it was the bare-boned moments that left an indelible mark.

“I used to play this ditty with George,” he explained during a brief interlude. “It’s actually Bach, and we’d pretend that we were good enough to be classical guitarists.” It’s hard to imagine McCartney having to convince anyone he could handle himself on guitar, but this was the story behind the opening chords to Blackbird, which may or may not have brought a tear to my eye.

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McCartney also payed hommage to both John and George in strikingly raw songs that seemed to capture a time past but still alive in memory. He encouraged the audience to say “something nice” to loved ones because, “you might never get the chance to say it again.” A personal highlight was when he paid tribute to the late George Harrison by playing Harrison’s immortal “Something” on a ukulele gifted to him by George. It was simple and reflected a genuine love that McCartney still has for his band-mates of past.

We all carry scars and McCartney’s no exception. A preconcert slideshow prominently displayed the late Linda McCartney’s photographs from their decades-long romance that reportedly saw the couple apart for only 11 days. Losing loved ones is part of life, and for an artist it can be damaging because so much time and effort is invested in the emotion behind the craft. But somehow McCartney seems to have beat his losses by maintaining a tiring tour schedule and continuing to produce creative output decades after many might consider hanging it up. He showed that he’s a man with nothing left to prove but still everything to gain. The Beatles and McCartney’s music will be reintroduced to generation after generation because the lyrics show a keen appreciation for the love that binds us all, and McCartney seems energized to get out there and share that love with the millions that have so readily showered it upon him.

In a week dominated by headlines about how dysfunctional of a political society we’ve become, it was a welcome 3-hour reprieve spent with a man who was quick to remind us that he’s just a guy who found a way to do what he’s always loved to do. And luckily for Paul, in the end, the love he makes will be bolstered by the hearts of millions.

Paul McCartney Wrigley Field Set List 7/31/11

1. Hello Goodbye
2. Junior’s Farm
3. All My Loving
4. Jet
5. Drive My Car
6. Sing The Changes
7. The Night Before
8. Let Me Roll It
9. Paperback Writer
10. The Long And Winding Road
11. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
12. Let ‘Em In
13. Maybe I’m Amazed
14. I’ve Just Seen A Face
15. I Will
16. Blackbird
17. Here Today
18. Dance Tonight
19. Mrs. Vanderbilt
20. Eleanor Rigby
21. Something
22. Band On The Run
23. Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da
24. Back In The USSR
25. I’ve Got a Feeling
26. A Day In The Life
27. Let It Be
28. Live And Let Die
29. Hey Jude

Encore
30. Lady Madonna
31. Day Tripper
32. Get Back

Second Encore
33. Yesterday
34. Helter Skelter
35. Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End

  • KKO

    A dream come true for you!

  • Aunt K

    Thanks for sharing your experience.
    Miss you!
    Miss Edie!
    So happy to see the bond you two share!

  • William Oudsema

    A wonderful read …..

  • ecb

    Best concert ever. Thanks for making it happen.
    I love the collage, too!

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