Sunday, August 07, 2011

Finally, Some Well-Placed Hits at Wrigley -- Concert Review: Paul McCartney

Photo Credit: Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune
Concert Review

Paul McCartney
Wrigley Field, Chicago
July 31 & August 1, 2011
@@@@@ (both shows)

I apologize for not writing and posting this review sooner, but it was a busy week, including spending roughly 6 hours with Paul McCartney at Wrigley Field.

Given that even my headline is a bit outdated with the Cubs having won 7 straight games--including the last 2 at home--until their streak was ended today, I realize by now this piece might be moot.

For either you were at one (or both) of Sir Paul's fab shows and know how great they were, have already read a stellar review elsewhere or really don't care.

So I won't belabor this, least of all for myself. But anyone who showed up at Wrigley expecting simply a golden oldies night of sentimental singalongs--or stayed away for fear of such--had their expectations solidly rocked for close to 3 hours each night. With a touring band that he's played with longer than the Beatles, and close to the 10 years he fronted Wings, the 69-year-old legend didn't let stifling heat keep him from delivering a pair of outstanding rock concerts of which nearly any artist of any age would be proud.

Until now, the best concerts I'd seen in 2011 were by Arcade Fire and U2. If Macca's two gigs weren't better, they surely weren't any worse. And I'm not just referencing the quality of the material--heavy not just on Beatles, but Wings chestnuts as well--but the quality and fire with which it was delivered. No, Paul's not a Liverpool lad anymore, but his voice sounded good, his bass playing was excellent and his band was wonderful.

You can click to see the setlists from Sunday and Monday; they weren't too different, but actually varied more than I had expected. Spontaneity is not among McCartney's mainstays, but after realizing the silliness of setlist quibbling years ago (not that it's stopped me), I've taken to just enjoying what the greatest living rock musician wants to play for me. So it was quite nice to have "Hello, Goodbye" swapped with "Magical Mystery Tour," "I've Just Seen A Face" give way to "I'm Looking Through You" and four other nightly variants.

And while the accolade I just cited is based on his Beatles' legacy, McCartney has put out much excellent music over the last 15 years, to the point that I could've happily heard a few more "new songs."

Perhaps it wasn't necessary to go both nights, but how many times in my life will I have the chance to see Paul McCartney--or even any winner--at Wrigley Field? Especially as both shows cost me less than 70% of attendees paid for just one concert, I was thrilled to treat myself to two hard day's nights.

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