Monday, July 19, 2010

Concert. Concert of my life. Amazing. And, as predicted, the thing has probably ruined me for any concerts to follow and has reminded me that McCartney and the Beatles should pretty much be listened to ALL OF THE TIME. The whole experience was just so lovely and complete (well, maybe not at first, considering we were in the nosebleed section...? but after the music started it didn't matter) and in the end McCartney as a performer exceeded my expectations. He played everything I could have hoped for, and just when we thought he was out of songs he reminded us that oh, there's more, and oh, we love every single one of them. How amazing that so much utterly timeless music can emerge from the mind of one guy (of course, in the case of the beatles it was all of them making it work, but still, the songs that he wrote himself are stellar. in fact he could have gone solo very early on).

SO. The story, for my posterity only (IE I don't expect it to entertain any of you who may be perusing). Tra la la. My friend Kate and I walk about the Fisherman's Wharf area of the city for a bit of the day, stopping at various art and craft places, and then dropping in on Chinatown and Columbus, the Beat Place (where City Lights resides, yay). We ate our dinner in Jake Kerouac alley, which was wonderful, then rolled down the hill, back to Ringo for a change of shoes, and off to the AT&T park. It's gigantic-- situated right on the bay with the water behind it. We climbed alllll the way up to our seats-- all the way up and to the far left. The show took an hour to start, which I think was due to the mismanagement of the park-- I suppose they're not used to having concerts there. Anyway. It was enough time to let the sun set and for us to take in everyone. Like the James Taylor concert, it was an awesome cross-generational event, only this time with more young people. Which was fantastic. Just as the concert was about to start, Kate (whose wit, incidentally, makes me smile in awe sometimes. on this day she was cracking me up left and right, and as we sat shivering waiting for our Beatle she kept saying stuff like "Well, I hope Paul is warm." and "Clapping won't bring him out any faster. In fact, he's probably chuckling at the ill-fated attempt." snicker snicker) and I realized that people were not going to claim their middle seats, so we quickly evacuated our "far left" seats for the center, which was still very high up but with a much better view, thankfully. And then the sun went down and out came Paul, precious Paul!

The setlist, according to his website:

San Francisco AT&T; Setlist - Saturday 10th July 2010.

1. Venus and Mars / Rockshow
I hadn't heard this before, that I can recollect. And it's not a great song, but it's alright. I think he must play it because the beginning lyrics are about being backstage, in a stadium. Aha.

2. Jet
Yayyyyyy the wings song we all know! This really is a happy happy song that my dad has always liked. I never bothered to learn the words, apparently, other than "wooo oooh woo oohh oooh JET!" and the SUFFERAGETE part. But it's so energized. [I looked it up, it seems to be a bit of a reference to John Lennon and at one point a nod to David Bowie (the major, suffragete city, looking like a woman...)].

3. All My Loving
Yeah, when he played this everyone went nuts and it was like being a giddy girl in the 60's. This is also one of my favorites from the moptop phase, so it was fun to hear.

After this Paul starting talking to us and just amusingly recollecting things, telling us that the last time he was in San Fran he couldn't hear himself sing for all the screaming girls (cue the audience screaming), but now "We have loud.... things."

4. Letting Go
I didn't know this song either, but apparently it's a pretty cool song from Wings. Bluesy.

5. Got To Get You Into My Life
Another moptop song!! I couldn't believe he was playing ones that were that old! And this was a pretty stomping good rendition. I liked his voice alot in it-- the chorus is so whizbang.

6. Highway
One of his new ones from "The Fireman" (one of those weird alter ego projects...). I LOVE this song, actually. I've been listening to it a ton since the concert.

7. Let Me Roll It
Another Wings that I didn't know but which I fell in love with! I think this must be my favorite of Wings, actually. Kinda bluesy again, and really easy to sing along to. I was very lulled at this point.
He ended it with a bit of Foxy Lady on the guitar, which was a surprise and really cool. While he was putting his guitar away and toddling up to the piano, he told us all about how cool Jimi Hendrix was, and a story about the Beatles hanging out with him the week that they released Sgt. Pepper (he played the title song at his own concert as a tribute to them, and then got Eric Clapton from the audience to tune his guitar).

8. The Long And Winding Road
AHHHHHHHHHHH. The minute he sat down at the piano and started playing this I looked at Kate in shock. I couldn't believe he would play this, and so early on in the concert! Something so sad! And I teared up, I admit, but only a bit. It really is the saddest song-- right up there with Fire and Rain, so far as I'm concerned, about someone who can't get past and can't move on. The line that breaks my heart every time is "you left me standing here a long long time ago..."

9. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
Another Wings song I didn't know and began to love. It's pretty epic. Heavy on piano, which I always dig, and his voice is very affected in it, he doesn't sing all high and whatnot.

10. Let ‘Em In
My least favorite song, probably, but still a good performance. It's a pleasant song.

11. My Love
Before he sang this was probably one of my favorite moments of the night: He sat back down at the piano and said very casually "I wrote this next song for Linda..." and everyone burst into applause immediately because we all know who Linda was (Paul McCartney's longtime wife, for whom he wrote all of his lovesongs, who died of breast cancer in the 90's). It was wonderful, not just acknowledging who I believe to have been a nice lady, but knowing that we were all so appreciative. That was a glorious moment of a concert like that-- I am ever so possessive about many of the things that I love, but that concert made me wish that everyone I love could have been there with me, sharing the communal happiness that was floating around.

Anyway, he played this one by Wings, which I wasn't overly familiar with and actually didn't care for at the time (I wish he had played Calico Skies, my favorite love song of probably all time), but it was played lovingly. Later, once I got home I downloaded it and it's really grown on me-- I've been playing it nonstop today and highly reccommend it.

12. I’m Looking Through You
Ahhh!! Another favorite of mine! Especially recently I've been loving this song about disillusionment, the best Paul song on Rubber Soul.

At some point they started playing a song and stopped in order to get the equipment in order, which was precious. "It's live, you see." AHHH PRECIOUS MAN.

13. Two Of Us
!!!!!! Another one I could NOT believe he was playing. An old personal favorite that always reminds me of my best friend (every time we're in the car together we put it on, gesturing at the road at the appropriate moments). It was lovely, and I know it brought tears to Kate's eyes as she phoned her little sister just so she could hear it.

14. Blackbird
The moment he mentioned "Civil rights" I knew he was going to play it, and I was so excited. He played it by himself on his accoustic guitar and he sounded wonderful. You could hear everyone singing along, and when he got to "you were always waiting for this moment to be free" the tears definitely showed up. Might have been my favorite moment of the whole thing-- that song means alot to me right now, in the sense that I feel and have felt trapped for a long time and really long for that beautiful moment, if it ever does come. It also connects me to a time a few years ago, when my friend Jon came back from a vacation to the mountains with his guitar, and that was one of the few songs he could actually play. He used to tote the thing around whenever we'd all go anywhere, and he'd play that song, usually at my friend Amanda and my insistence (and at Josh's toleration). It was just tradition after awhile, and though it was phased out, it does remind me of the rare peaceful moments in that time of my life. Anytime I see Jon with a guitar now I ask him to play it. As McCartney sang it there was a second where I couldn't help but think of my old friends, and how nice it would be if they could be there with me.

15. Here Today
So Paul decided to capitalize on our burgeoning tears by introducing this song, something he wrote after John Lennon was killed, about his old friend, saying all the things that he wished he could have said to him before he died. If you know the Beatle history, this is just especially heartbreaking, and the song itself is so pretty and honest. Around the middle, where Paul sings "I love you," his voice cracked and he just strummed his guitar for a second, still moved by the whole thing. I think everyone cried. At the end of it, he held up his guitar and said "let's hear it for Johnny!"

When he was done, he commented that it was definitely time to cheer up--

16. Dance Tonight
WHAT AN ADORABLE SONG!! Paul hopping about on the mandolin is quite possibly the cutest thing in the world, and this song is tremendously catchy. I looked it up and apparently he wrote it for his little girl who couldn't help but dance when he played the mandolin.

17. Mrs Vandebilt
Another Wings song I didn't know but have since downloaded and very much enjoy. Very sing-along-able.

18. Eleanor Rigby
WOW. THE song that got me hooked on The Beatles and probably saved me from bad music for the rest of my life. Very solid performance.

19. Something
He played almost the identical rendition of what I know from the Concert For George thing, where he started out informing us that George played the ukulele. He then played the whole first part of Something on the uke, then segued into a full-on orchestral version.

20. Sing The Changes
Another Fireman song, apparently the single. I quite like it, though it really reminds me of some song that should be in a children's jungle movie of some kind. Anyway, I like it very much, but it is my opinion that Paul should stay away from lyrics that use the word "wonder" (in the sense of awe. but that's just me).

21. Band On The Run
Yayyyy the Wings song that everyone knew! It was actually really fun to sing along to-- the SAILOR SAM part especially.

22. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
I nearly lost my mind when he started playing this!!! I would have never ever guessed that McCartney would play this at a concert, but I suppose he's always been pleased with it. Oh my gosh, what a joy to sing along to. Kate and I were both jumping around and clapping our hands like idiots. He even silenced the band at one point and had the audience sing at him, which is the type of thing that I think makes a concert so great. Singing that song at the top of your lungs... yeah. Nothing beats.

23. Back In The USSR
Coming from the energy of the previous song, this rendition ROCKED. I've always thought it's a fantastic rock 'n roll song and even got excited when the Hush Sound did a cover of it at their concert. To jump around to it being sung by Sir Paul was pretty much amazing.

24. I’ve Got A Feeling
YES another one I wasn't expecting!! I don't know that it's anyone's favorite, but this one has always made me super happy (I prefer Don't Let Me Down, but that's a John/Yoko song). Though Paul still sounds like himself, this song really serves his more mature voice well.

25. Paperback Writer
Yeah, we kept going crazy. This was an especially awesome one in scheme of the concert-- I think it must be a hard song to perform. I go back and forth on this song in general, sometimes I don't care for it at all, but as he was singing it I was thinking, dang. This really is the 60's here. What a weird, fantastic song. I especially love the bass.

26. A Day In The Life / Give Peace A Chance
OK. This was amazing!!!! He talked a bit about Day in the Life, and they played it very nicely with cool lights over the audience, though I have to say without John singing it it really did lack some punch-- but just as I was thinking that, it morphed into Give Peace A Chance. Paul led the crowd with it, then left it up to us to sing, and all of a sudden the whole giving up the chains of society to be a hippie thing started to sound really reasonable. Of all the anti-war, yay peace songs from that era, that song is the one that really does it for me. It's so simple and warm. Anyway, we were all chanting it for god knows how long, tirelessly, looking around at the old lady next to us and the younger, pot-smoking girls behind us, and the whole place in general, all of these people chanting give peace a chance. It was supremely beautiful to think of it, and even more so to think of how long people have been chanting it, tirelessly. Wonderful.

27. Let It Be
And with that, Paul McCartney hopped back on his piano and played my song (mine and everyone else's), the most uplifting song about hope that always fills me with incredible emotion. Tears came to my eyes the minute I heard the first chords, and I became so choked up at one point I couldn't even sing along. I calmed down a bit, finally, and was able to soak in the song while Kate and I tried to get her lighters to work (which they did, but only for a bit). It was beautiful, not just because it IS that song, but because I've been longing to experience just that moment for such a long time. I could have sincerely died then and there.

28. Live And Let Die
Straight from let it be to LIVE AND LET DIE. We all knew it was coming, and it was fabulous. Serious show-stopper. At one point they set off little fire balls onstage, only to be followed by a huge FIREWORKS SHOW once he hit the chorus. Literally, massive fireworks! All over the bay! It was fantastic!!

29. Hey Jude
Just when we thought that was that, he brought out old faithful. I suppose my one grumble about the show would be the handling of this song-- unfortunately the sound was not consistent throughout, and the waves of wind from the bay carried the music away from us occasionally. Nevertheless, it was still great to hear, and the end was crystal clear. At one point during the na-na-na's he stopped playing and got certain sections to sing in comparison with others. And he sang the best part--- hey JUDEY JUDEY JUDEY JUDAAAAY.

30. Day Tripper
Another song that I don't give a good deal of attention to normally, but which really is essential in the rock world and is AWESOME in concert. By this time we were on our feet and really didn't sit down ever again. It took me soooooooo long to find out-- and I found out.

31. Lady Madonna
I've always been fond of this one, and I loved that they found a way to make the weird little kazoo noise.

32. Get Back
TERRIFIC. Again, essential rock music from its SOURCE, man. Good ole Paul. It really hit me while hearing this one that I was seeing a LEGEND. I mean, GET BACK for crying out loud!

Get Back was so great that we really thought that was that, but we clapped hard for his return anyway. And poof, back he came-- some people had even left by then. Stupid people.

Second Encore

33. Yesterday
When he came back out with his guitar, I was honestly thinking "What else could he possibly play?" I then felt very stupid. The most covered song of all time. I have never felt a connection for this song, but I do happen to think it is one of the best ever written (and arranged). It's just so earnest, and the lyrics are so incredibly PRISTINE. I really admire them and his songwriting, especially the line "Why she had to go, I don't know, she wouldn't say-- I said something wrong." Simple and yet so complete.

At this point Paul was all mischievious and asked us if we wanted to keep rockin' and of course we did.

34. Helter Skelter
SHOCK!!!! Of all the songs!! I could not believe he played this. It is such an amazing, HARD ROCKING song, and not a favorite of many that I was simply blown away. Their performance of it was also HARDCORE, and I was so impressed by Paul, freakin' 66 or whatever he is, belting out SEE YOU AGAAAAAAAAAIIIIN and wailing like a rock star. His band is also incredible.

After this Paul told us that they really did have to go, eventually, mostly because we had to go, yes, the audience must go home and sleep (boooo!). but he thanked us, the band, the event people, etc.

35. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band / The End
Freakin' Sgt. Pepper! What a trip to hear that in a stadium... it was as though the freakin' Beatles were alive and singing in my ear. I couldn't help but think of my dad, and how lovely it would have been if he could have come. He would have loved it-- he loves this song, and also Paperback Writer. Anyway, the other WOW moment was when they segued into THE END. Everyone loves the end because 1) it's epic 2) it winds down Abbey Road and thus the existence of the Beatles-- their "last words" as a unit being "the love you take is equal to the love you make." I also love the end because I used it, quite forcefully, for my highschool graduation slide. It was hard won, and it expressed so much of myself at that point in time. I also listened to it about a gazillion times as I put that thing together, so the song is branded on my mind and in my identity. It was such a fantastic, fitting way of ending the evening, and I could have collapsed from happiness right then.

Later, we made it through the crowd and to our car fairly easily and then back to my aunt's house, which I found impressive considering how damn confusing the highways are around there. I suppose I am getting better at navigating. I capped off the evening with a bit of poundcake that my Aunt left out for us and a nice drink. Kate fell asleep instantly, but I, on my humble air mattress, stayed awake a few minutes to reflect and savor my ringing ears. And now time is passing, it is slipping by me much too quickly, and soon it will be years since I saw Paul McCartney. Funny how that goes.

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