McCartney review: making ladies cry and dudes dance

The Common was anything but last night...

What a night. The layout inside the Common was a confusing maze of sights and smells—-even Steve Murphy was asking security questions. The biggest problem was folding-chair town, which stretched on for rows and rows, with no visible end in sight. And as an ATM truck tried to back up, people just picked up their chairs, asses still near the ground, shuffling in unison a few inches to let it through. Um, concert?? Luckily the chairs weren’t allowed anywhere near the stage, and so a mini-chair dump emerged near the corner of the beer tent. The mix of generations was apparent immediately and concert newbies were spotted everywhere: A grey-haired man scowling at a group of singing pot-smokers; a small child asleep in a sleeping bag, ignoring the ballcapped dancers doing some weirdo white-dude, high-fiving dance beside her.

No matter once McCartney took the stage. There aren’t too many 67-year-old men in the world who can elicit that kind of screaming, while wearing a collarless suit, white shirt and suspenders—-occasionally breaking into a bizarre Jamaican accent: “irie, irie.” Weird chatter aside, as we were reminded many times during his over 2.5 hours on stage, this isn’t your average grandpa with bad jokes. It’s a bloody Beatle.

Somehow, kicking off with “Drive My Car” (and later “I Saw Her Standing There”) didn’t have last weekend’s laughable creep factor of listening to lead Offspring singer Dexter Holland sing, “If you're under 18 you won't be doing any time.” But those bizarre moments came later. Behind the stage, a giant video screen rotated images of early Beatle days, landscapes, abstract images and paintings from Richard Prince (I think there were a few of Paul’s, too). During “Got to Get You Into My Life,” where McCartney let loose and rocked ’er out a bit—oh look, on the screen, Beatles avatars!—which surely had nothing to do with The Beatles’ Rock Band, coming out September. And then during “Ring the Changes” (from his 2008 experimental duo Electric Arguments), McCartney pulled a Bono, as a disembodied Obama head (kinda like Alfred E. Neuman) keep appearing in lights and then exploding into pieces. But during “Something,” where McCartney played a vintage Gibson ukelele originally given to him by George Harrison, the old photos of Harrison were tears-worthy; if you’re into that. Which I am.

A quiet version of “Blackbird,” with the stage and crowd lights turned down low, was also worthy of a few chills. And while there’s no denying the fact McCartney and his band (in particular drummer and singer Abe Laboriel Jr.) are about as tight as a band can be, pulling songs like “Band on the Run” and “Back in the USSR” out of the vintage dust—-and of course the pyrotechnic bonanza of “Live and Let Die"—-some of the quieter songs, like “Eleanor Rigby” and “A Day in the Life,” gave a chance to reflect on McCartney and Lennon’s storytelling abilities, and their talent for taking ordinary lives and making them special. And sorry, you’re made of lawn-chair plastic if you’re not moved just a tiny bit by the energy created from a 50,000-person choir of “Hey Jude,” especially when looking up at all the surrounding apartment balconies, filled with people, lights twinkling.

The three-time encore included “Day Tripper,” apparently the first time he’s played it live since the show at Candlestick Park in 1966 (according to maccablog.co.uk) and “Mull Of Kintyre,” accompanied by the 78 Highlander Halifax Citadel Pipes Band, when, of course, the crowd lost their tartan shit, as they did when Macca said,” Neil Young says hello” or any reference to Halifax. I think I saw an original Manson member lose his headband and stop in his tracks during “Helter Skelter.”

Leaving the park, the celebration out on the streets were still going on (except for the poor dude getting hauled off the police van). The torn-down black mesh along the fences meant that many more people got to enjoy the show, including my dancing parents, in town visiting. My dad estimated that there was probably another 10,000 outside of the actual Common watching the show (we're waiting for official numbers for inside, but early guesses are 50,000). They're going to see The Beach Boys in Cape Cod soon, but we were hard-pressed to find an original member on the posters for the Summerside show, which lined the posts around the Common (know your audience, I guess). Say, say, say what you want about the politics behind using public money and land for Sir Paul, but last night, combined with the coveted sun, was probably one of the most lovely things to happen to Halifax since the shit started floating in the harbour. I'm extremely doubtful that KISS will inspire the same communal spirit, but we'll see. And there will be no chair villages at the show; apparently KISS fans aren't to be trusted with such accessories; they're on the do-not-bring list. Early morning reports from the Common are pretty good too—overflowing garbage for sure, but definitely not Citadel Hill's chicken-shit mud stream.

Photos are coming....

Set list—Help a sister out! If you find mistakes or additions, please let me know.
Drive My Car
Jet
Only Mama Knows
Gotta Get You Into My Life
Let Me Roll It
All my Loving
Flaming Pie
Long and Winding Road
My Love
Blackbird
Here Today
Calico Skies
Mrs. Vanderbilt
Eleanor Rigby
Ring the Changes
Band on the Run
Back in the USSR
Something
Paperback Writer
A Day in the Life
Give Peace a Chance
Let it Be
Live and Let Die
Hey Jude

Encore
Day Tripper
Lady Madonna
Mull Of Kintyre
I Saw Her Standing There
Helter Skelter
Get Back
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
The End

What did you think?

Support The Coast

At a time when the city needs local coverage more than ever, we’re asking for your help to support independent journalism. We are committed as always to providing free access to readers, particularly as we confront the impact of COVID-19 in Halifax and beyond.

Read more about the work we do here, or consider making a donation. Thank you for your support!

Comments (14)

Add a comment

Add a Comment

Get more Halifax

Our Thursday email gets you caught up with The Coast. Sign up and go deep on Halifax.