For the fourth time in just over a decade, I saw Paul McCartney in concert. Of the four occasions, three have taken place at Fenway Park. (Here’s my account of Macca’s July 2013 appearance at Yawkey Way.)
This time around, I was joined by my roommate Christopher Kain (who attended the show with me at Fenway in 2009 – the first concert at the park in decades) and my older brother Ezra. Before the show, a nice young woman from Spain who is in this country for a few weeks to study at the Berklee School of Music chatted him up. While it was the first time Ezzie had ever seen perform, it was not the first time he had seen him. In 2005, while working at Whole Foods in Toronto, he, his co-workers and the patrons got the shock of their life when they saw Macca walk in with his then wife Heather Mills. Well, even a Beatle has to eat. I’m sure the cashier will never forget ringing him up. No word though if he bought a Linda McCartney entree.
Well, there’s something to that vegetarian diet because the 74-year old Beatle performed a set of 38 songs over three hours without an intermission. There was a healthy mix of Beatles tunes (“A Hard Day’s Night,” “”Let It Be,” “Hey Jude” and even “You Won’t See Me”), Wings material (“Band on The Run,” “1985,” and even “I Feel Like Letting Go” from Venus & Mars) as well as a couple of tracks from his newest album, the aptly titled New.
One song I could have done without was “Temporary Secretary.” Originally recorded on his 1980 solo album McCartney II, it was his first venture into electronic music which would evolve into The Fireman project. When I heard the song on Google Play Music a few weeks ago after my gym workout, I nearly turned it off. I thought to myself, “Well, at least he won’t perform it at Fenway.” I should have known better.
It was during “Temporary Secretary” that a fight nearly broke out in my section. A couple of young punks (who were unfortunately companions of the young woman from Spain) refused to sit down making it difficult for people around them to see the show. Security was called in twice, but ultimately they were allowed to remain. I guess they decided to let it be.
Truth be told there was an underlying tension. It was hot, there was a long line to get into Fenway and security was tight. No doubt it was a combination of the attack in Nice a few days back as well as the ambush of cops in Baton Rouge. Throw in the prospect of a Trump presidency and you have a mood that even the music of Paul McCartney can’t entirely overcome.
But I would say that people left happier than they come in. McCartney let things be and saved the best for last. After closing the show with “Hey Jude,” he came out for an encore carrying an American flag while one of his band mates carried the Union Jack. After starting the encore with “Yesterday”, McCartney brought out Bob Weir of The Dead (who had performed at Fenway the previous two nights) to perform Wings’ “Hi Hi Hi.” But the biggest surprise came when Macca introduced New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski who came out and played air guitar and danced to “Helter Skelter.” With Tom Brady somewhat deflated, Gronk is now probably the Pats’ most popular player and last night will do nothing to dissuade that sentiment. McCartney and company would then play “Birthday” and end with “Medley” from Abbey Road which concluded, “And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
Unfortunately, love isn’t enough. But we could certainly use more of it and Paul McCartney always has an ample supply to go around for the taking and making.
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