Sir Paul McCartney conducted a rock and roll masterclass tonight in front of, what appeared to be, an entirely sold-out Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
Traffic around the stadium was beyond terrible, as Orlando City (soccer) took on MLS rivals FC Dallas tonight at Exploria Stadium, just about 0.5 miles away from Camping World.
Thankfully, Sir Paul's tour management took the horrific traffic jam into consideration as the concert started closer to 8:20pm, 20 minutes after the show's posted start time.
However, when the lights beamed onto the stage and the sound erupted from the 65,000-person capacity roofless stadium, filling downtown Orlando with the booming sounds of guitars, trumpets, saxophones, and keyboards!
About 5 songs into the show, the former Bass player for the iconic Beatles unbuttoned his suitcoat, joking with a dry delivery that this was the one and only wardrobe change for the evening. Moments later, in between songs, he reflected back to a show he had attended during which Jimmie Hendrix had thrown his guitar out of tune while up on stage, and was seeking out fellow guitarist, Eric Clapton, to come up on stage to help him get it back in tune as he began playing "Getting Better". The multi-versatile musician then transitioned over toward the Yamaha baby grand piano to play "Let 'Em In".
He introduced his next song, stating that he had written it for his wife, Nancy, who was physically in the audience tonight. He married Nancy Shevell back in October 2011, and "My Valentine" was one of 2 original songs on the 2012 album "Kisses On The Bottom".
Engulfed in purple stage lasers, he goes into "Maybe I'm Amazed", which released in April 1970, was written by McCartney just before the Beatles broke up, and was credited to his 2nd wife, Linda, for getting him through the troublesome time.
Sir Paul was full of anecdotal reference and humor tonight. In between songs again, he begins talking to the audience stating "Now, we take you through mists of time, to a port called Liverpool. When 4 lads met up and formed a band and did ok for themselves. Way back when we were just a gigging band, but it was difficult to get noticed. Back then it cost 5 pounds to make a demo. there were 5 of us, we made a demo, and each paid a pound, then we'd keep it for a week. 'Duff' (John 'Duff' Lowe, who McCartney invited to play piano with Beatles' forerunner 'The Quarrymen') kept it for 20 years and sold it back to us, at quite a considerable profit."
McCartney then takes up a mandolin to perform "Dance Tonight". But during this particular section, drummer Abraham 'Abe' Laboriel Jr. stole the show, as he himself humorously danced behind McCartney, having some fun while somehow working in the Macarena and The Sprinkler dance moves in the background while backing Sir Paul. It was fun and lighthearted, and provided a glimpse into the closeness and seemingly close friendships that existed between the band members on stage.
McCartney then begins reminiscing back to when "Blackbird" was written stating, "We were hearing about civil rights, segregation and bigotry. We thought America was better than that. We wrote a song for Little Rock so that if they ever got back, that it would hopefully give them hope."
As we're delving deeper into the show, the topics and insights get heavier and more serious. He introduces the next song stating that he had written it after John (Lennon) died... "Let's hear it for John!" he exclaims and the crowd goes into a frenzy. He states that the song represents the things he didn't have a change to say to Lennon previously.
He's strongly engaging the crowd. He says to the crowd, "We know which songs you like. If we start playing a Beatles song, the audience lights up, like a galaxy of stars. If we do new stuff, it's like a black hole. But we don't care!" He then begins playing "New".
He acknowledges all the fan-made signs waving throughout the audience. He says that while he's playing chords, he says to himself: not to read the signs. He goes on: if I mess up I'm blaming the signs. The crowd begins to laugh, but then he starts calling out the signs in the audience. The girl sitting behind me yells at the top of her lungs when he called out her sign referencing her not seeing him at his prom, from almost 20 rows back. He just made this young fan's night.
Continuing the jokes just a song later, he asks, "Where is everyone from? On behalf of the tourist board, we welcome you." The gentlemen just ahead of me and to the left proudly screams at the stage that he's from Mexico. Another fan is loving the interaction with tonight's performer.
McCartney breaks out his ukulele, stating, "Not sure how many knew it, but George Harrison was a great ukulele player. He begins playing "Something" and shifts mid-song to playing guitar. The crowd is having a great time.
He introduces 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da' informing the crowd that he'll have them sing the lyrics midway through the song. No one in the audience misses the cue, and apparently 60,000+ fans are now singing along.
As we enter the next song, he states that he had never performed this next one live prior to this tour, so for Orlando tonight would be the first time to hear this live. He begins playing "You Never Give Me Your Money". The crowd continues to sign along, note for note.
As he performs "Get Back", throwback video footage of the Beatles placates the screen at the back of the stage. He sends out yet another 'thank you' now to Peter Jackson, who he credits for putting together the video footage.
He performs another crowd-pleasing "Band On the Run".
We get a pyro-heavy rendition of "Live and Let Die" during which, fireworks and explosions and lasers are just going off everywhere on stage. It was a sensory overload, and it was freaking fantastic!
At this point, we're at 2 hours and 15 minutes of nonstop signing and musicianship. He plays "Let It Be", and I physically just can't imagine this getting any better. In the interest of beating 60,000+ concert-goers back to the parking lot, and call it a night.
This was one of the most amazing shows I have ever attended. Visually spectacular. Engaging. Sir Paul's musicality and regality just oozed and felt like musical royalty. His work ethic of starting the concert (for the most part) on time, offering up no opening act, performing solidly for approximately 2.5 hours: his concert was the stuff of legend. He brought back so many memories, and entertained thousands all the while. Such a showman: and in just about 3 weeks from now, this legend will be turning 80 years old!!
What an awesome show. If you've been unable to watch a live concert performance for 2 years now, and wanted to "catch up", Paul McCartney's 'Got Back Tour' will immediately satisfy you! If I could grade this one, this would easily be an A+, must-attend!!