Sir Paul McCartney, Live at Wrigley Field, July 31st, 2011

Karma. (look up definition.) Or, the old “what comes around, goes around.” I was taught a lot of things by my parents. Some of them I think might be good to shuffle off – maybe the things I took away from the lessons I may have warped or the lessons themselves may have just been warped from the outset. But by and large, I think I was given a strong set of core Midwestern values that have stood me in good stead throughout the years. They all boil down to some form of the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule and “What comes around, goes around.” Which in itself is basically some corollary of the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have done to you.”

I’ve always felt that there’s some version of this in the music world. More specifically, Ticket Karma. I’ve always been fortunate enough to be acquainted with people who have access to the almighty “plus one,” and have since been happily fated to volunteer (and work my ass off) for my very own community radio station, where an occasional perk is a pair of free tickets now and again. Sometimes, I’ve run into friends with an extra ticket, sometimes, I’ve had to review a show, sometimes, I’ve broken up with a boyfriend and he doesn’t want to go with me anymore. There’s all sorts of reasons I might find myself in possession of an extra, free ticket.

I’ve always believed that there is NEVER any circumstance by which I should sell this ticket. Even when 1. I could or 2. Needed the money. Obviously, if it’s a plus one on an industry list, it would be much harder to ask someone for money, but peruse Craigslist sometime. It’s filled with all sorts of propositions, creeps and scams. It couldn’t be beyond a person. It’s beyond me, but it’s not beyond SOMEONE. But even when I have a hard copy of a ticket, and it’s not a financial burden to me (I didn’t pay for it, it’s not going to be something that causes me financial stress), I feel like if I can help someone get to some music, it’s my duty to pass along what has always been so freely given to me. I also do believe that it continues to put some money in my Ticket Karma bank.

Well, friends, I’ve never been let down by this assumption. I continue to give and receive in the Ticket Karma universe. It continues to make me happy and others happy. Today, I received a piece of Ticket Karma that I might have to pay dividends on for a long time. I get a random call from a friend that she has FREE tickets to PAUL MCCARTNEY tonight. Do I want them? Paul McCartney’s not really “her thing.”

Ehhhhhh……

PAUL MCCARTNEY isn’t your thing? YES, I WANT THE TICKETS. PAUL MCCARTNEY ISN’T YOUR THING? My heart is hurting. I can’t see. YES, I WANT THE TICKETS.

There is a little weirdness around the tickets. She works for an agency that helps blind people and McCartney gave the agency the tickets because “it’s an obstructed view by the sound equipment.” I was planning on going down to Wrigley tonight anyway and listening, because I figured if I couldn’t afford tickets to McCartney, the least I could do is at least listen to my hero sing live. Why not? I was going to do it with the Police, and I forgot. So, I won’t be able to see him. Bummer, but at least the sound should be better than outside of Wrigley. Yes, I’m going.

I need to meet up with the people at precisely 5:45 pm, and on the way down there, the el stops for a distressing amount of time … at 5:40. Between Sheridan and Addison. For those not acquainted, this is between the stops right BEFORE the stop where I want to disembark. It’s a sitcom situation. However, everything works out, and I meet up with everyone and I get my ticket and go grab a bite and make my way into my seats.

My club box seats. These seats are ridic. My seat is the first row on the third base side directly in front of the dugout. The view is “obstructed” by a tower with some speakers. I can see both the huge video screens fine. I never get baseball seats this good. Amazing. I’m thrilled. My heart skips a beat. I relax and wait for the show.

There is no opener, just a video show with music from Paul’s career and various little pictures/videos of stuff spanning his/the Beatles’ lives/eras in history. It was pretty cool, but I was ready for it to end just about the time it did.

Sir Paul McCartney hits the stage in this great blue suit and navy pants and he looked FUCKING AMAZING. SO good. SO, so, so, so, good. I just had chills and goosebumps and tears. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, the Beatles stopped touring long before they stopped recording and here I was with tens of thousands of people – that’s what it was like when they toured, right? Just tens of thousands of people in adoration, but ten times better then and 100 times louder – all the screaming.

And here I was, at 37, just as enamored as ever. The music just lasted and made it. People sometimes argue with me about the Beatles being the best band ever and the most influential and everything, but I just don’t ever see how anyone can argue it differently. Yes, there was rock and roll before them and the blues guys before that. I know. But they came and they just transformed it. They did things no one had ever, ever done. They did things by hand that people do with guitar pedals and computers and instruments now.

When Tributosaurus does their Beatles stuff every 6 months, they’ll tell stories about the band or a particular album/set of songs (the singles inbetween albums are even MORE of a trip) and they’ll say how a particular song was tossed off in a few hours or the record company forced them to write this or that and it turns out that it’s the most amazing song we’ve been singing for years – like “Eight Days a Week,” or “Day Tripper.” “Some B side,” Matt Spiegel will say, and we’ll all laugh with a crazy glint in our eye, because no other band could have — no other band HAS done anything like that. Created some B side in half a day that has turned out to be such a piece of culture for the world for all these years.

It was great to see small children and teenagers there. That’s the other thing. It’s still happening. The way that I love the Beatles; it happened because I just had them around forever since I was a kid. And they seeped in and grabbed my heart and they never let go. And they’re still doing it today. Everywhere, people of ALL AGES. You don’t have to be around from when they got started, but what’s great is that there are still people who are. They’re vital and happy and they still love the Beatles, too. And they most certainly still love Paul.

Setlist (with notes):
1. Hello Goodbye

2. Junior’s Farm

3. All My Loving — God, it was so crazy to hear him do this song. A real, honest-to-God, old school, power pop, Beatles song. God, I was so crazy happy. I had forgotten my “real” camera that would have allowed me to take good pictures and some good audio. I guess it was probably better that I had, because I could just stay in the moment the whole time. It was probably better that way.

4. Jet

5. Drive My Car

6. Sing the Changes — (from his other project, The Fireman)*

7. The Night Before — He said this was the first time they were doing this on tour. I love this song so much.

8. Let Me Roll It into Foxy Lady (Hendrix) at the end. One of the things that was just fantastic about this – if the music weren’t enough – was that McCartney would take his time, pause between songs, and tell stories. He said that “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Club Band” was released on a Friday and Jimi learned it and opened his show with it on a Sunday. However, whammy bars on guitars back then would throw your guitar hopelessly out of tune. So he played it and then asked, “Is Eric [Clapton] here?” He was, but was super shy and didn’t want to come up. Jimi wanted him to tune his guitar for him.

At this point, Mac has gone from his little, standard bass to this weird, psychedelic painted guitar to this yellow guitar. He says it’s because they’re “showing off,” but then he says it’s the original used on this song:
9. Paperback Writer — In the background videos, they’re showing these pulp paperback nurse novels from the 60s.

10. The Long and Winding Road — the drummer looks very familiar for some reason.

11. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five

12. Let ‘Em In — I wonder if Paul thinks of Linda when he plays some of these songs – especially the Wings songs.

Paul McCartney is a master of his craft, a consummate show man and an impeccable professional. It was hot as balls the whole time. Even with the sun going down and the night all around us, it never got cool. Not even close. Yet, he NEVER, not once, even danced around the subject of the heat. He took off his suit jacket and rolled up his sleeves, but he didn’t even mention it. He’d pause and tell stories and give himself (and us? Crowd is older and all!) a chance to catch his breath sometimes, I think, but the show had a great pace and he looked and sounded great. He transitions to piano – because he can and because we want him to!

13. Maybe I’m Amazed — Gets stuck in my head for days, but I don’t know all the words. The most annoying kind of earworm.

McCartney can tend to look a lot older/jowly when he sings the Wings songs. Cause he is sitting at the piano? Cause of the tendency to get scream-y? Not sure.

14. I’ve Just Seen a Face — One of my all-time favorite songs. Can’t believe he sang it. Wasn’t expecting that AT ALL.

15. I Will — Tells story about how he’s watching Royal Wedding with his 7-year old (he wasn’t invited??) and he tells her that Daddy wrote a song called “I Will” and how he wishes maybe one day that when people get married they’ll say “I Will” instead of “I Do,” and that’s exactly what Will and Kate do. (Craig Ferguson always calls her Kiki Wigglesworth, and I can’t not call her that in my head now.)

16. Blackbird — Tells story about how he and George would sit and around and noodle Bach to sound fancy and how a last piece of that turned into Blackbird when he wanted to write a song to support the civil rights movement.

17. Here Today — Tells us that life is short, basically and that sometimes you wish you had said things to people before they pass away. This is the song that says things he wish he’d said to John. Super touching moment.

18. Dance Tonight — On ukelele

19. Mrs. Vandebilt

20. Eleanor Rigby — Guy playing keyboard strings (also ends up doing this with the horn pieces) — you’d think McCartney would have the cash for strings and horns where needed, no?

I wonder what it’s like for these guys to play with McCartney. Also, what it’s like to be singing John Lennon’s part!!

21. Something — Starts out saying, “Most people don’t know this, but George was a fine ukulele player. Let’s hear it for George. I really miss him.” Starts song completely on ukulele. Also says there’s a Scorsese docu coming out about George.

22. Band on the Run — Great mix of songs!

23. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

24. Back in the USSR — When they first played this in Russia, the Defense Minister of Russia told him that the first record he bought was Love Me Do and that the other guy (maybe KGB dude) told him he learned English from Beatles records, “Hello/Goodbye.”

25. I’ve Got a Feeling — Never saw him drink any water in 2 hours? Is that humanly possible in this heat? True professional; never once mentioned the heat. … I have a note that said, “fucking with us because he can.” Not sure what that means.

26. A Day in the Life/Give Peace a Chance

27. Let It Be

28. Live & Let Die — He probably didn’t mention the heat because the pyrotechnics in the back of this song were insane. Why bitch when it’s about to get crazy HOT. This was insane, like some GNR show. I just kept laughing. There was fire blasts and fireworks and they went off three times throughout the song. SO funny.

29. Hey Jude — goes on the upright piano, not the grand. I wonder if he and Julian still talk.

Encore #1:
30. Lady Madonna

31. Daytripper

32. Get Back — throughout the show, he sees people, totally acknowledges them, talks to them, talks about their signs, etc. Very personable, etc. Why does he hold up his various guitars before he gives them to a roadie? Acknowledge the tool he’s using?

Encore #2:
33. Yesterday

34. Helter Skelter — only song I could have done without. Wonder if Paul is amazed at all the technological advances that allow him to recreate sounds that they had to innovate back in the day.

35. Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End

I heard afterward that he had a teleprompter, but I guess I don’t really care. At one point in the show, he acknowledged the fact that it was hard for him sometimes to be concentrating on remembering all the chords and lyrics to all the songs while another part of his brain was telling him to look out and read all the signs and look at the people. I understand that. I have been in situations where I have been of two minds.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that opportunity and what a great time I had. I will certainly never forget it and I am basically STILL floating. What a great thing. My favorite Beatle. YAY!!

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5 thoughts on “Sir Paul McCartney, Live at Wrigley Field, July 31st, 2011

  1. Wow. That would have been an aaaaamazing concert. There is nothing like seeing your music idol(s) in real life. I recently saw The Cure live and I cried when they first came on stage and was shaking from the adrenaline for hours afterwards. I was very surreal. I had such an overwhelming emotional reaction to being in a concert hall, only 7 rows from the front and close enough to see Robert Smith’s eyeliner and the cheeky grins he made all the way through. Music makes my soul complete.

  2. Kinda felt the same way when I met the Polka King Little Wally. Got all tingley. Of course it could have been the case of Old Style.

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