Thursday, July 18, 2013

Paul McCartney -- Out There in Milwaukee

A few thoughts on Paul McCartney's 2013 "Out There" tour stop at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin...

It took me nearly 35 years, but roughly 10 years ago I irrevocably became a fan of The Beatles. It was due to an anniversary celebration of the release of Rubber Soul. Numerous contemporary artists cut a track-for-track tribute of Rubber Soul and were being interviewed on NPR. One artist, Rhett Miller -- the frontman for the Old 97's -- talked about how significant that album was to him and how he still regularly enjoyed listening to it

It got me thinking ... I don't know The Beatles' work linearly. Up to that point, I just knew their muddled mass of work as one jumbled entity. I didn't know if I Wanna Hold Your Hand was on the same album as Revolution #9.

So I started squarely in the middle: I bought a copy of Rubber Soul and fell in love with it. It may have been 35 years old, but it sounded fresh and surprisingly modern to me.

Rubber Soul was the album that diverted The Beatles off their always-writing-songs-that-contain-the-words-Love-and-You trajectory.

I followed with Revolver and then continued to procure albums in the order they released them until Let It Be - their last.

That was a GREAT way to learn and appreciate The Beatles -- who recorded ALL of that wonderful music in a span less than 9 years!

I didn't have a favorite Beatle; they all played a role in giving them a sound and style that was uniquely "The Beatles." However, after 46 years on this planet, it's hard to deny that one Beatle's footprint is bigger than any others': the catchy, hummable and instantly recognizable tunefulness of the music produced by Paul McCartney.

So it was with great eagerness that I went into his stadium-sized concert at Milwaukee's Miller Park with 45,000 others. I was going to see a man knighted by the Queen of England, a man noted as the wealthiest musician in the world, a man who wrote the riffs that I practiced for hours on end with my guitar, a man credited with writing the most played song in the history of recorded music (Yesterday), a man who has inspired anybody who is anybody in music today.

I was going to see a Beatle. Or as my pal Tony said it, "I am going to see a fucking Beatle!"

But here's the thing: despite all those great reasons to see a Paul McCartney show, what struck me most was his very visible virtuosity. I guess I knew it was there all along, but somehow I had forgotten that gift he had for being able to play nearly any instrument and make it look easy.

Watching the legend on the big screen and stage, I was captivated by his talent the way I would be if I was watching a one-legged unicycler juggle chain saws while balancing a toaster on her nose.  Despite the fame, wealth, sweltering heat and 45,000 person crowd, at the heart of it all was Paul McCartney's music and incredible ability.

Guitar, bass, piano, ukulele and, of course, his great voice - he makes it appear effortless.

Plus, he made it appear effortless for THREE hours and never took a drink of water! (He probably took a little sip at the first encore, which was at least two and a half hours in.) Seventy-one or twenty-one, that's one hell of a feat!!

So with that said and a day's reflection passed, I'd have to say that was the best concert I have ever attended. It wasn't inexpensive, but in no way do I feel cheated out of even a single penny. In fact, if he came back to Miller Park next week, I'd gladly fork over the dough to na, na, na, na, Hey Jude with Sir Paul once again.

Concert rating: 5 Hofner basses out of 5.

P.S. It didn't hurt that Live and Let Die was the most bombastic, loud and visually assaulting song I have ever seen performed in concert either. ;)

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