Sir Paul McCartney | 11.11.12

Singing “Hey Jude” alongside tens of thousands is a life-altering experience.


 Scottrade Center | St. Louis

Kelly Glueck photo

Very few artists can make a sold-out arena feel like a club. On a night when the weather could not have been more England-like, Sir Paul McCartney walked into the room and made everyone feel like they might have been in a stuffy English club in the ’60s. Except for the pyrotechnics, 30-foot-high screens, and an uncountable number of lights, that is.

A set that included a “costume change” (consisting of McCartney removing his overcoat) and choreography (comprised of drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr., going over the history of dance during “Dance Tonight”) probably didn’t remind anyone of recent shows at Scottrade Center, namely Madonna and Justin Bieber. No one seemed any less interested in the 70-year-old and his bandmates’ set, however. The set was packed top to bottom with a heavy mixture of classics from the Beatles and Wings, though his recent works from tracks with The Fireman and his new album Kisses on the Bottom did not lose the attention of anyone.

No other living artist has quite the discography to draw from that McCartney has; it’s not even close. Set opener “Magical Mystery Tour” gave a great impression of what time of night it was going to be, and also put to great use the incredibly large screen behind the band. McCartney addressed the near-constant changing of guitars, admitting the band was just felt the need to “show off” the wide array of instruments they possessed, including a ukulele that was given to him by George Harrison. He next launched into Harrison’s song “Something.”

“My Valentine” brought onscreen cameos from Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman, who both signed the words to the song in their own unique fashions, with Depp also playing along to the guitar solo. McCartney claimed the song was written for the type of rainy, dreary day it was.

Bruce Matlock photo

The night also brought many expected moments of high-class moves by the smooth Brit, as early in the show he asked whether it was in fact pronounced “St. Louie” or “St. Louis.” The crowd loudly applauded the correct answer, though he could have called the city anything he wanted—except maybe Chicago. He also gave us the opportunity to applaud John Lennon and George Harrison, though no mention of the other living Beatles member, Ringo Starr, seemed odd.

The only moment of the evening in which McCartney showed any type of weakness (not including a fall from his piano, from which he quickly recovered and joked about) was featured during his tribute to John Lennon, “Here Today.” His voice cracked toward the end; whether that was from emotion or not was impossible to tell.

The main set ended in the explosive (literally) “Live and Let Die,” “Let It Be,” and “Hey Jude”; for McCartney, though, there was still essentially half a set—by any other band’s standards—remaining. Nine songs followed after the band returned to the stage. The encore featured mostly hits from the Beatles, beginning with “Lady Madonna,” with onscreen historic female figures, from Amelia Earhart to Mother Teresa.

After a rather reserved and beautiful “Yesterday,” McCartney admitted that it seemed like the crowd “wanted to rock a bit more” and launched into “Helter Skelter.” The knighted one never lost a step as he dove into his 35th song of the evening, almost to the end of his 2:45 show. The night ended on a terrific run of Abbey Road songs: “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “The End.”

This special evening was undoubtedly a high moment in most of the attendees’ concert-going lives. Singing “Hey Jude” alongside tens of thousands is a life-altering experience. Hearing Sir Paul McCartney sing “Birthday” to those in attendance who were celebrating their special day will, without a doubt, never be forgotten. For those of us who both saw the new James Bond film Skyfall and sang along to “A Day in the Life,” honorary British citizenship would be appreciated. I’ll be awaiting your call, British Embassy. Let’s just make this amazing, British-filled weekend official. | Bruce Matlock

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