If the pressure of doing justice to a 55-year music career in front of 25,000 adoring fans on his first Australian concert in two dozen years was felt at all by former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, he and his five-piece band did not show it for a moment.
Appearing to love every minute of it, they joked and hammed it up for the audience, cherry picking classics both old and new (and wisely avoiding some of his more twee ‘70s and ‘80s output). Macca delivered a show with a little of everything that will be remembered by young and old alike.
A set from DJ Chris Holmes, which remixed covers and originals of Beatles and solo tracks like ‘Silly Love Songs’, ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ and ‘Come Together’ to a video montage of old photos, served as a nice teaser for the show. When McCartney strolled laconically on stage in a Beatles-esque suit with Sergeant stripes on the arm, pumping a fist victoriously in the air on this warm, clear, near-full moon night, the crowd was primed and ready.
‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and Wings’ track ‘Junior’s Farm’ were first, the former prompting Beatlemania screams, and the response to ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ overwhelmed even the man himself, who announced he, “needed a moment to take all this in.”
McCartney’s influence and affect on modern music is arguably as or more profound than any other person’s, and at 75 – full of boundless energy, good humour and a veritable poster boy for a vegan lifestyle – he remains at the top of his game as he and his band play for three solid hours (to the minute). They delivered 30 songs as he bounced from his beloved Hofner bass to electric and acoustic guitars, ukulele, organ and piano.
It was a transcendent experiences watching McCartney play brilliant versions of Beatles and Wings songs like ‘All My Loving’, a ukulele arrangement of George Harrison’s ‘Something’ that then segued into the full band, ‘Band On The Run’, ‘Let Me Roll It’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Live And Let Die’ – including a barrage of fireworks and pyro – and ‘Hey Jude’. A beautiful ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’, dedicated to late wife Linda, later reduced many to loving tears.
There were many more highlights during the all killer, no filler show, not least being the first song he ever recorded with Beatles forerunners The Quarrymen, ‘In Spite Of All The Danger’, relatively new tracks ‘My Valentine’, written for current wife Nancy, and ‘Queenie Eye’. He even rolled out his unlikely collaboration with Rihanna and Kanye West ‘FourFiveSeconds’, albeit with a far more suitable rock and roll reno job.
McCartney’s encore was a mini-concert unto itself. He and his band strolled out waving huge Australian, British and Rainbow flags before playing ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)’. The proto metal ‘Helter Skelter’ saw him invite young couple Martin & Saya onstage so that he could propose (she said yes… then made Macca sign her Beatles jacket), while a surprise airing of ‘Mull Of Kintyre’ came complete with the WA Police Pipers Band in full swing.
‘Birthday’ was dedicated to “everyone else who had a birthday sometime this year,” before the crew got shout outs and the show ended on the triumphant note of the closing suite from Abbey Road – ‘Golden Slumbers’, ‘Carry That Weight’ and ‘The End’ – amidst more fireworks and a confetti storm.
It was truly an unforgettable night.