Beer and Loafing in Zooropa

Wings Over Mattopia: Macca Comes to Town
Paul McCartney: The US Tour
1 November 2005
Pepsi Center
Denver, Colorado, USA

Finally, after all these years, I can say I’ve seen a Beatle perform live. I was in the second row (as in right off the stage, not second row from the back) and it was a pricey ticket. Oh yes indeed, it was the most I’ve ever paid for a concert, and the ticket was obtained at face value through TicketBastard.

The ticket was worth every penny.

It was a solid 2 ½-hour set, a full 3 hours when including the performance of the Carnival-masked DJ (who interspersed some familiar McCartney riffs in his set) and a career-spanning retrospective film about Macca covering everything from Macca’s early days to Live 8 (yes, one of Sir Paul’s many career highlights: sharing the stage with Bono during Sgt. Pepper’s).

Macca has been a part of so much rock history, it’s staggering. The man looks great, his voice is in phenomenal shape, and he’s still got it. Just like those Fidelity ads say, the man’s doing what he enjoys.

And the goose bumps keep coming when he throws in an anecdote or two about the early days (like signs in the audience saying “My mom saw you at Shea!”). Damn! It was simply awesome to be in the same building as one of the legendary Beatles.

Particularly inspirational and moving for me was Paul’s moment to remember John, George, and Linda. After all, where would this Mattopian be without his Lennonist leanings and sunglasses?

The highlights were bountiful in what proved to be a very technology-savvy production, an extravagant rocker on the scale of U2’s Elevation and Vertigo tours. Yes, from the second row, I had to make sure my eyebrows weren’t burned off during the explosive pyrotechnics of Live and Let Die. Good Lord, there were even indoor fireworks!

In addition to the awesome performance of Live and Let Die, the hard-rockin’ Helter Skelter and Back in the USSR rubbed elbows with classic Wings tunes like Get Back and Jet. Beatles oldies like Eleanor Rigby and Please Please Me played out comfortably alongside the undeniable power of the anthems Let It Be and Hey Jude.

And, to my delight, songs off Paul’s latest album, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, were good enough to warrant picking up the disc after the show. Fine Line, Follow Me, and Jenny Wren are new classics. English Tea was a goodie too, with a brilliant visual presentation of English gardens on the massive background screens.

Ah. Let me get back to Hey Jude.

Paul McCartney on stage, at the piano, singing Hey Jude. It does not get any better than that.

And that brings me to my big beef about the crowd: It was raucous, but primarily up in the stands. Shame on those around me, down in front, who sat on their asses for much of the show.

People clearly younger than me on the left and people clearly older than me on the right sitting down! In the second row! How do you do that? Why not stay home and wait for the frickin’ DVD?

Get up, stand up. Pull out your fuckin’ cigarette lighter, wave your arms in the air, and sing. I can’t sing (but I’ve got soul). Nonetheless, even I, when in the presence of Sir Paul, will make that extra effort to sing along. Especially on Hey Jude.

In Mattopia, it’s considered a major crime to sit in the presence of Sir Paul when he’s in right in front of you, tearing it up like it was still the ‘60s rather than a man in his 60s.

To be sure, there were plenty of people down in front who were into it as much as I was. In particular, there was a gorgeous blonde who did the world a favor, got on her boyfriend’s shoulders, and exposed her bodacious boobs.

God bless America.

While on the topic of America, at the second encore, Macca returned to the stage waving the American flag while the Colorado state flag was also being hoisted around the stage by the band. A very nice touch.

Maybe it was only one member of the original Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band on stage, but it didn’t matter. We enjoyed the show.

One other surprise comes to mind: the security. It was a little over the top, with posters at the entrance listing verboten items, including cameras of any type (based on the well-heeled group around me, that apparently excluded cell phone and PDA cameras), weapons, CDs, and albums.

The crack down made it feel more like a band of hooligans were gathering for a Rotterdam soccer game rather than a bunch of earnest rockers crusading to give peace a chance and singing about their freedom.

Complete Set List:

Magical Mystery Tour
Flaming Pie
I’ll Get You
Drive My Car
Till There Was You
Let Me Roll It
Got to Get You In My Life
Fine Line
Maybe I’m Amazed
Long and Winding Road
In Spite of All the Danger
I Will
Jenny Wren
For No One
Fixing a Hole
English Tea
I’ll Follow the Sun
Follow Me
Eleanor Rigby
Too Many People
She Cam in Through the Bathroom Window
Good Day Sunshine
Band on the Run
Penny Lane
I’ve Got a Feeling
Back in the USSR
Hey Jude
Live and Let Die
Get Back
Helter Skelter
Please Please Me
Let It Be
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Macca, Rusty Anderson (guitar), Brian Ray (guitar),
Paul “Wix” Wickens (keyboards), Abe Laboriel, Jr. (drums)

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