Paul McCartney Brings Beatlemania to Syracuse


Photo Courtesy of Alexandra Moreo, The Daily Orange.

Saturday night, September 23rd, was wild at the Carrier Dome, as more than 35,000 people flooded the doors to see a legend. Paul McCartney, now 75, but with the energy of someone at least four decades younger, played a three-hour, thirty-nine song set, playing new songs and ones that date back to Liverpool. “Not the one here,” he said. “The other one.”

Opening with the notorious mystery-chord of “A Hard Day’s Night,” McCartney blew through the set with command and ease, and with almost no break. He played some of his new work, like “New,” “FourFiveSeconds,” “Queenie Eye,” and “My Valentine,” which he played for his wife Nancy, who was in the crowd. He also played songs from his Wings days, notably “Jet,” “Band on the Run,” and “Live and Let Die,” which was accompanied by thunderous percussion, flames, fireworks, and lasers. It was a true shock.

He also played their song “Let Me Roll It,” with a coda in the form of an instrumental rendition of “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix. This was followed by an anecdote about how Jimi opened a London show in 1967 with a cover of the title track from Sergeant Pepper by The Beatles [who were in the crowd]. Hendrix was using an effect during the song that made his guitar horribly out of tune. With only one song played, he looked to Eric Clapton, who was also in the crowd and trying to hide in his seat, and asked him if he could do the guitar! There were a few fun stories McCartney  told.

Of course, The Beatles songs were the highlight, something he was well-aware. He said he could tell the energy rocketed whenever a Beatles song began. “We don’t care,” he said. “We’ll play the new ones anyway.” But, he still delivered. He played classics like “All My Loving,” “We Can Work It Out,” “Let it Be,” “Hey Jude,” “And I Love Her,” and “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and “A Day in the Life” with “Give Peace a Chance” as an outro.

He also played some deeper cuts, like the Rubber Soul gem “You Won’t See Me,” the carnival collage of “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” the Let it Be anthem “I’ve Got a Feeling,” a sing-along rendition of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” the proto-metal classic “Helter Skelter,” and the early rocker “I Wanna Be Your Man.” He opened the tune with another story about how in London him and John were sharing a car with Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, who said the Rolling Stones were struggling to find a hit. John and Paul gave them this track and it was the Stones’ first #1 song in the UK. He also played “In Spite of All Danger,” which was a song written from his first band, The Quarrymen, which would evolve into The Beatles.

There were deeply moving parts of the concert. He played his first solo hit, “Maybe I’m Amazed,” for Linda McCartney, his first wife, who died of breast cancer in 1998. He played “Love Me Do,” the first song The Beatles recorded for a professional studio for George Martin, their brilliant producer who passed away a few years ago, recalling how nervous he was at the session. He played “Here Today” for John Lennon, a song which he wrote after Lennon was murdered. He played a lovely rendition of George Harrison’s “Something,” beginning alone on a ukulele before having the whole band step in. He recalled how he and George met before any of the other members did, being schoolmates. He also performed “Blackbird,” his civil rights anthem which still resonates today.

He closed the night with the last three songs from The Beatles’ Abbey Road medley: “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “The End.” The audience, melting from the heat in the Dome, was exhausted from all the excitement. But, Paul looked like he could keep going for another three hours. The energy never wavered and it’s doubtful anyone left disappointed.