Music legend Paul McCartney appeared at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Saturday, September 28, 2002. McCartney's Back In The U.S. Tour is the second tour leg to support Driving Rain. His stellar performance was greeted by an eager audience that bestowed multiple standing ovations throughout the concert.
McCartney's band sounded tighter on this second tour leg. Again, Sir J.P.M. was aided on stage by guitarist Rusty Anderson, drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr. (both Driving Rain musicians), multi-instrumentalist Paul 'Wix' Wickens (a touring member since `89), and guitarist-bassist Brian Ray. Macca is preparing to release a companion disc and DVD tour souvenir next month, timed for the ensuing Xmas season.
The pre-show carnival improvisation functioned as a non-musical opening act. The revised avant-garde atmosphere was abruptly interrupted by a large screen, which illuminated a silhouette of Paul McCartney holding up his Hofner Bass guitar. The band immediately began "Hello Goodbye", a psychedelic relic that enticed the audience to clap along to the fading coda.
Joking with the crowd, Macca asked, "You been losing all your money?" He then remarked, "Let's do some boogie woogie", before kicking into "Coming Up", his live U.S. single that peaked at #1 in 1980. Wix provided horns using a synthesizer, and McCartney's bass lines lifted through the mix.
Making small chat in the Hall, McCartney polled the audience origins, "How many people live here? How many have come in? Anyone from New York? Philadelphia? Liverpool?" The interaction between Paul and his fans demonstrated a bond of mutual affection and respect. Their adoration for Beatle Paul was intense.
Paul provided the 411 about how he composed a song in the form of an uncompleted conversation to a deceased friend. His remark, "Let's hear it for John!", was met with a standing ovation. The venue grew unmistakably silent when he began "Here Today". His lyric "I love you" generated applause.
Macca mentioned the zany recordings he and John had made with twisted French accents. During their teenage years, the lads would, "Pretend to be French", at college parties. Joined by the band with Wix on accordion, Paul sang a beautiful version of "Michelle" on acoustic guitar. This surprise song was a standout among many of the evening.
Another new song added for the second leg was "Let `Em In" from Wings At The Speed Of Sound. McCartney was anchored behind the ivory keys as Anderson's bottleneck lead and Laboriel's drum battery pumped up his 1976 hit single. The closing coda matched the quieting sound, bouncing back with a final dual note crescendo.
The major production of the concert was the 1967 Sgt. Pepper classic, "She's Leaving Home", performed live for the first time on this tour leg. Even though Macca's Hofner was strapped on, it was hard to determine if he actually played the bass guitar. Anderson and Ray both strummed acoustic guitars, and Laboriel left his drumriser to sing harmony vocals.
"Can't Buy Me Love" motivated everybody to jump up out of their seats. Video clips of A Hard Days Night accompanied the song as the audience sang the chorus. Anderson and Ray created an exciting moment as they traded lead guitar licks during the bridge. McCartney exclaimed, "Yeah, yeah, yeah!", and held his Hofner up over his head amidst cheers and applause.
When the band launched into "I Saw Her Standing There", the Hall lost all inhibitions and began to dance with abandon. Dena, a woman seated three seats away from me, brought me into the aisle to dance with her during this classic Beatles rocker. The euphoria climaxed into cheers and applause as Paul received flowers from the audience.
McCartney returned for his second encore with an acoustic guitar to sing his most famous ballad, "Yesterday". Wix added support of synthetic orchestration. Macca delivered a great vocal and was awarded another standing ovation. He held up his acoustic guitar and commented, "This guitar is the guitar I played on the Ed Sullivan Show". He thanked his fantastic band, crew and, "You, yourselves without whom ....".
The troupe of period actors and actresses joined the band for a group bow. Ceiling fireworks and confetti were the final touch to cap off an incredible evening of musical memories. As McCartney was leaving, he ran back to center stage to pick up and autograph a Beatles VI album jacket that had been tossed on stage.
Gregory Decesare, 48 from Long Branch, thought McCartney's concert was heaven on earth. He said "Let `Em In" reminded him of the Bicentennial summer. He had previously caught the first leg at the Garden in April and couldn't hear his own voice that night.
Decesare had the unique opportunity to see Paul perform with The Beatles at the then Convention Hall on August 30, 1964. He was 10 years old and went with a group of 10 people chaperoned by an older cousin. He remembered crying because he couldn't see the band with everyone standing on their seats and was hoisted up to see The Beatles on stage by his cousin.
Atlantic City setlist: Hello Goodbye * Jet * All My Loving * Getting Better * Coming Up * Let Me Roll It * Lonely Road * Driving Rain * Your Loving Flame * Blackbird * Every Night * We Can Work It Out * You Never Give Me Your Money/Carry That Weight * Fool On The Hill * Here Today * Something * Eleanor Rigby * Michelle * Here, There, And Everywhere * Band On The Run * Back In The USSR * Maybe I'm Amazed * Let `Em In * My Love * She's Leaving Home * Can't Buy Me Love * Freedom * Live And Let Die * Let It Be * Hey Jude * First Encore: The Long And Winding Road * Lady Madonna * I Saw Her Standing There * Second Encore: Yesterday * Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/The End
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Hurricane Macca plays a winning hand
by Timothy Tilghman