Completely Off-Topic: Paul McCartney at Detroit's Comerica Park July 24, 2011
Sunday July 24, 2011 I was at what I think will always be my all time favorite concert – Paul McCartney at Detroit’s Comerica Park. So I thought I’d share some of my thoughts, impressions, etc.
- The man is 69 years old and he played for 2 hours 50 minutes. I’m 20 years younger and I still had to sit down periodically. He came out in a suit very reminiscent of the early Beatles suits but shed the coat after two songs because it was still pretty warm that night.
- A thunderstorm roared through about 30 minutes before the start of the concert. We went into the concourse to get out of the rain. I heard afterwards that “With A Little Luck” started playing during the storm and then the storm ended. Hmm.
- • I went into the concert expecting his voice to not sound that great. I’ve seen numerous recent concert clips on YouTube and his range just hasn’t been there. But live and in person he sounded fantastic. True, he doesn’t sound exactly like Beatle Paul anymore but the voice is still good.
- This was the first time McCartney played inside of the City of Detroit since 1976 when the Wings Over America tour played at Detroit’s old (and now demolished) Olympia Arena (long time home of the Red Wings). Since then he has played at the Pontiac Silverdome (former home of the Lions) and the Palace of Auburn Hills (home of the Pistons). He mentioned several times how he happy he was to be back in Detroit.
- He was very talkative, which I’ll get into a little bit below.
- McCartney clearly does not need to continue to tour; unlike many reunion acts that are out there to fund their retirements McCartney doesn’t need the money. This enthusiasm to entertain was very evident.
- I got to see his famous Beatle bass – the Hofner Violin Bass. I’m not someone who goes crazy over instruments but that was cool.
- The most touching moment was when he played “Here Today”, his tribute to John Lennon off of his 1982 album Tug of War. Before performing the song, McCartney said how you always think you have time to say something like how much you love them and appreciate them. And then sometimes they are gone and you can’t. I don’t think most people at the concert knew the song (I had the album so I knew it) and there were definitely wet eyes afterwards.
- The second most touching moment was when he traded out his guitar for a ukulele. He started saying how George Harrison was also an excellent ukulele player and how they’d sit and play ukulele together. He then said how this particular ukulele was given to him by George, and then he started playing George’s masterpiece off of Abbey Road, “Something.” He did it solo acoustic until the guitar solo, and then his band joined in. I especially enjoyed hearing McCartney’s bass line from that song being played live (even though Paul wasn’t playing it as he was still on the ukulele).
- A little more than half way through the concert he played “I Will” off of the Beatles White Album. Afterward, he told us how he was watching the royal wedding with his young daughter and said to her how he has a song called “I Will” and wouldn’t it be nice if a bride and groom said “I Will” instead of “I Do.” Then apparently Kate Middleton said “I Will” and he decided to add it back to his set.
- During the afternoon before the concert, he and his band went to the nearby Motown Museum (yes it exists and while very small it is worth a visit). The Beatles recorded at least three Motown songs on their first two albums, although Paul never sang lead on them. He talked about how much he enjoyed the early Motown songs, and then performed Marvin Gaye’s “Hitch Hike.” For a lifelong Detroiter that was pretty cool.
- For only the third time ever (the first two being the previous weekend at two shows at Yankee Stadium) he performed “The Night Before” from the movie Help! The song sounded even better live.
- He first came out with the Hofner bass, and then switched out after six or so songs to a clearly vintage guitar. Paul and his band then performed a blistering version of “Paperback Writer.” After, Paul said he switched to that guitar because it was the one he used to record the song back as a Beatle.
- Other favorite performances of the night: “Junior’s Farm”, “All My Loving”, “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and especially “Maybe I’m Amazed.”
- Best performance of the night: “Live and Let Die.” When the song kind of explodes about 30 seconds in, so did everything on stage – fireworks went off and flames erupted all around the stage. The large video screen started cutting to a different camera every second adding to the frantic nature of the song. Paul even pretended to be all exhausted after it. Exhilarating.
There were only two songs I didn’t think sounded right:
- “Day Tripper” – thought the lead guitar sounded too much like a heavy metal buzz saw guitar.
- “Lady Madonna” – thought the lead guitar lines were too muted.
Final thought: who else but Paul McCartney could come on for his final encore and perform the beautiful classic “Yesterday” (and on the same guitar he used to record it as a Beatle) and then launch into “Helter Skelter.”
If you were at this concert or others on this tour, would love to hear your impressions. If he is coming near to you, GO!