Thursday, July 18, 2013

'Helter Skelter' in a Summer Swelter: Paul McCartney Still Burns Bright on a Hot Day's Night -- Milwaukee Concert Review

Concert Review

Paul McCartney
Miller Park, Milwaukee
July 16, 2013

"Can't Buy Me Love," "Penny Lane," "Good Day Sunshine," "Getting Better," "Drive My Car," "The Night Before," "Magical Mystery Tour," "Got to Get You Into My Life," "I'm Down," "Hello, Goodbye," "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," "The Fool on the Hill."

These are all songs Paul McCartney didn't play Tuesday night at Milwaukee's Miller Park (or at any stops on his 2013 Out There tour, which have all featured virtually the same setlist). Not touring in support of a new album, Macca also included just one song from the past 30 years--2012's "My Valentine," written for current wife Nancy Shevell--meaning he notably ignored the six rather solid records he's released over the last 16 years (including one as The Fireman).

I say this not as a complaint but as an indication of just how impossible it would be for Sir Paul to play everything his fans--including many know-every-lyric-of-every-song Beatlemaniacs--might want to hear, even over the course of a 38-song, nearly 3-hour perfomance.

Having now seen McCartney--or the imposter that has been fooling the world since before I existed--9 times (first in 1989 but all the rest since 2002, including 5 shows in the last 4 years), I've at some point seen and heard him do all the songs I listed at top.

But not only does his current setlist remain a (presumably most of the) crowd-pleasing mix of Beatles classics and Wings/solo cuts from the '70s, it was particularly pleasing for the 6 songs he's never played live before this tour.

That's not to say "Eight Days a Week," "Another Day," "All Together Now," "Lovely Rita," "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" and "Your Mother Should Know," were the only tunes I relished hearing.

Though he always plays "Hey Jude," "Band on the Run," "Let It Be," "Live and Let Die," "Back in the USSR," "Yesterday" and others, in much the same manner with the same visual accoutrements (and/or shtick), I'd actively miss most of them if not played. And I realize these mega-tunes especially need to be included for any first-time attendees (considerably more likely in Milwaukee, where Macca hasn't played since 1993).

I also enjoyed the healthy sprinkling of some of his best work with Wings, including "Junior's Farm," "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five" and "Mrs. Vanderbilt."

But in mining his glorious past even deeper--and I'm not readily convinced there is anyone alive now who is more likely to be relevant and revered 200 years hence--the legendary Liverpudlian did more than just justify my seeing him yet again.

The performance in full--with the same stellar band Paul has toured with throughout this century, and his voice & energy still strong at 71--plus the attraction of the 6 newly unearthed setlist gems as well as other infrequent treasures like "We Can Work It Out," "I've Just Seen a Face," "And I Love Her" and "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" served to make it well worth shlepping to Milwaukee, getting home after 3AM and some even more irksome issues.

I've frequently attended events in Milwaukee and the drive up this time--accompanied by my friend Paolo and sister Allison--was actually rather easy and fast. We were within a half mile of the parking lots surrounding Miller Park (where the Brewers play) a good hour before the 8pm ticketed showtime.

But due to the worst-managed event parking influx I've ever encountered--there were no cops directing traffic nor even attendants guiding flow--we sat in the General Parking queue for over an hour, only to finally reach the lot entrance (with plenty of spaces clearly still available) and see an attendant holding a sign saying "Pass Holders Only."


At which point we were directed to "go drive down that street and find a space," and wound up getting one of the few remaining spots. We didn't wind up having to pay anything, but I gladly would have to have avoided the hassle (though getting out proved to consequentially be rather simple).

We got to our seats--cheap ones high up behind home plate with the stage in center field--at 8:30pm, happy that Paul wouldn't actually start playing 'til about a quarter of 9.

With Miller's retractable roof open, it was an uncomfortably steamy and sweaty night. And from our distant vantage point the sound was a bit soft and, for awhile, badly mixed.

But from the show-opening strains of "Eight Days a Week," singing along with Sir Paul--who remains one of the best concert performers around and not just due to his astonishing catalog--was so much fun, this day tripper would happily do it again tomorrow.

If I wasn't seeing Pearl Jam at Wrigley Field--and Paul wasn't already off to Seattle with his band on the run.

Maybe I'm easily amazed, but the night before yesterday, the greatest living rock 'n roll musician once again demonstrated that as my (ob-la-di, ob-la-da) life goes on, he continues to make it better better better better better better... 

(And yes, per my post title, he did play "Helter Skelter.")
Here's a YouTube clip of "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" posted by zoothorn99:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

McCartney has played in Milwaukee 2 times Between 1993 and 2013. However, both of the shows were at the Bradley Center. This was his first outdoor show in Milwaukee since 1993.