Paul McCartney @ Great American Ballpark 8.4.11
August 6th, 2011 by Matt
Let’s get this out of the way early: I consider Paul McCartney to be the single greatest songwriter since the invention of sheet music. I’ve seen great shows before, but never have I seen over two hours of literally some of the greatest songs ever written. So on that grounds alone, yeah, Paul McCartney’s show at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark was a hit — but it went so far beyond that. This was one of the few shows I’ve seen that went past the realm of “concert” and felt like an event.
One thing I have to mention is my admiration for his backing band. When watching DVDs on his recent tours, they come across as a bit too studio or sterile for a real rock show. Five songs into this set I wanted to apologize to his band personally for doubting them. The guys have buckets of personality on stage and even more talent.
I’ll try to pass along a faithful review, but frankly remembering details beyond the sheer greatness of it will be rough. The set started with “Hello, Goodbye” and “Junior’s Farm.” I’d say that was a great start to the set, but really I’d probably say the same if he opened with “Coming Up.” …OK, that actually sounds like a great opening track. You can check out the entire setlist here. I was thrilled to get “Mrs. Vanderbilt” and “1985″ — both of which sounded incredible live — as well as the insanely happy “Dance Tonight.” The latter’s bass drum-only beat afforded Paul’s drummer the chance to macarena/sprinkler his way through the entire song while standing.
True to Paul’s chatty self, we got a bunch of great anecdotes. Some I’d heard on DVDs or bootlegs (Bach is the origin of the “Blackbird” chord progression) but others were brand new. I laughed out loud when he shared the story of being at a Jimi Hendrix show where Jimi called out to Eric Clapton in the audience and asked if he could come on stage to tune his guitar. And even though a decent bit of the audience interaction was cheesy (“It’s like you guys want us to play all night. …Hey, there’s an idea!”), I ate it up to no end.
During the last encore Paul brought up two sets of people for a quick chat. The first was a group of four women wearing Sgt. Pepper’s replica coats and the last one was a couple whose signs read “PAUL, SIGN MY WIFE” and “I’M THE WIFE. SIGN ME!” He talked to both groups for a few minutes then signed the woman’s shoulder blade “Let it be, Paul McCartney”
Paul capped off his set with a blistering version of “Helter Skelter” and then a medley of “Golden Slumbers” / “Carry That Weight” / “The End.” It was an impressive end to a fantastic show. Still, even such strong rockers had their biggest competition from some of the slower solo songs in the middle of the set. To hear Paul McCartney play “Blackbird” solo on acoustic guitar in front of you is an incredible moment. At that moment even though I was surrounded by thousands of people, it was just me, Paul and the lump in my throat that was a mix of too many emotions to sort through.
Lots more photos after the break
Tags: Paul McCartney