Sir James Paul McCartney earned the top honors in 2002 for the most successful tour of last year. Conducted over two legs, "Driving U.S.A." in the Spring promoted his studio effort "Driving Rain" and "Back In The U.S." in the Fall promoted his live album of the same title. At 60 years old with a new wife, McCartney's proves he can still rock on stage.
Quondam Beatle Paul, christened the Cute One, was back on the road after a nine year absence. His support band featured young musicians guitarist Rusty Anderson, drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr., Brian Ray on guitar and abss, and Macca tour veteran multi-instrumentalist Paul 'Wix' Wickens. This young ensemble has jazzed up McCartney's juice.
The R&R Hall of Famer balanced nostalgia with technology, creating a concert experience unlike any of his previous tours. A choreographed presentation of visual and audio interaction mixes musical memories with celluloid projections.
Wings clips from the mid 1970s accompany "Band On The Run", scenes from "A Hard Day's Night" pump up the crowd for "Can't Buy Me Love", and a montage of 007 facials enhance the excitement of "Live And Let Die".
"Hello Goodbye", a #1 pop psychedelic single from 1967, opened the evening. Although never played live by The Beatles, the energetic unit generated the aura of Sgt. Pepper euphoria to launch the concert on a high note. "Let Me Roll It", a "Band On The Run" classic, is a unique 1973 Wings rocker that is one of the tour highlights.
In an unprecedented move, McCartney performed unplugged on acoustic guitar for an intimate interlude. Two highpoints in this extended mini-set were tributes to his fallen fellow Beatles. An emotional tide caught the crowd during Paul's "Here Today", written for John Lennon in 1982.
Macca lightened the mood by singing "Something" solo on ukulele in memory of George Harrison. He remarked George would have played it in a vaudevillian manner, which brought a chuckle to ease a shared loss.
Although both tours featured essentially the same material in concert, there were minor alterations. The acoustic "Vanilla Sky" was performed on the first leg. Macca was aided by Anderson on acoustic guitar and Wix on flute.
The major production of the second leg was "She's Leaving Home", performed live for the first time. As a trio, Anderson, Laboriel, and Ray added harmony vocals on this 1967 Sgt. Pepper classic.
The Beatlemania Anthem "I Saw Her Standing There", celebrating the abandon of youth, closed the first encore. Macca whisked the baby boomer crowd and himself back to an age of innocence, belting out this 1963 Beatles rocker. The second encore began with his most famous composition, "Yesterday". The acoustic guitar he used was the same guitar he played on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1965.
His big finale was a medley of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/The End". Driven by a powerful drum bridge, Anderson, McCartney, and Ray attempt to outplay each other on electric guitar in a crescendo of rapid-fire lead guitar.
A fab climax to an incredible evening of live entertainment from Gemini bassist, Paul McCartney. Fireworks and confetti complemented the concert when the band took their final bows on stage.
Carrying the full weight of the Beatles legacy is a daunting task, but McCartney remains ready to entertain and enjoy himself at the same time. Even in middle age, he retains the stage energy of his youth. As the pied piper of the baby boomers, his 2002 Tour broke ticket sales records at venues all across the country. Macca remains a phenomenal musician live on stage, performing trusted musical memories and creating new moments of magic.
Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., were stops on the first leg and Atlantic City on the second leg. Hitting the road to enjoy a concert is always an exciting adventure. Meeting new people and making new friends along the way is half of the fun.
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2002 Touring Industry ticket
McCartney's musical nostalgia blends merriment & memories
by Timothy Tilghman