Paul McCartney at Jobing.com Arena: Former Beatle's U.S. Tour Opens with a Bang

Categories: Concert Review
PaulMcCartney-18.jpg
Luke Holwerda
Paul McCartney performing at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.

​After nearly a half century in the spotlight, it's surprising to see Paul McCartney do much of anything new. How about two new things in a single night, as McCartney did while kicking off his Up and Coming Tour with a stellar sold-out show at Jobing.com Arena? Maybe I'm amazed.

The former Beatle managed to play two classic songs live for the first time on American soil in Glendale. Those songs weren't Monkberrian obscurities, either. One was "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," a hit from the Beatles studio-only years -- the Beatles' last real concert was four years before the band's split, so a few such songs exist. The other was Wings' "Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five," the closing track on the group's epic Band on the Run album. Wings toured extensively, making the fact that the song's live debut came more than 35 years after it was released something of a surprise.

Overall, McCartney's three-hour, 40-song show was fantastic. The new -- or at least new to American stages -- songs were just one part of the equation.


Taking stage in a simple black dress coat and slacks, McCartney opened the first date in this, the latest in his series of After the Alimony tours, with a trio of post-Beatles songs, including the Wings' hit "Jet." He took off his coat -- "the only costume change of the night," McCartney quipped -- for "All My Loving," the first of many Beatles songs sprinkled throughout the set. 

"The Long And Winding Road" came accompanied by a backing video that showed an artfully grainy saguaro-studded desertscape. Here's hoping the other cities on the tour get the same treatment.

McCartney did "Blackbird" and "Here Today" alone and acoustic, with a darkened stage and a moon-shaped ball lowering behind him as he played. The effect was both beautiful and simple.

"Eleanor Rigby," on the other hand, saw one of the night's few hiccups. McCartney and Co. elected to use a backing track for the strings which came across as fake. Given the importance of the song -- some people cite it as the turning point toward the more serious direction the band took on later albums -- the blunder was especially disappointing. It left me with the same feeling as seeing a gorgeous slice of Kobe beef covered in a Cheez Whiz aioli.

On the other hand, the rendition of "Something," which Paul dedicated to George Harrison, was incredible. McCartney began the song alone, strumming the chords on a ukulele given to him by his former band mate, before the rest of the band joined in for a goosebump-inducing refrain.

"Paperback Writer" also had a nice touch, as McCartney played the song on the original Epiphone he wrote it on. The backing video, a loop of artsy book covers, all bearing various Naughty Nurse-related titles, was a little weird, however.

"Live and Let Die," which packed in all the pyrotechnics most big bands spread out over an entire show, was also memorable. The ear-wax-melting explosions at the first refrain were a nice jolt two hours in to the show, and the fireworks got everyone on their feet for the "Hey Jude" sing-along that followed.

A blistering version of "Helter Skelter" and the "Sergeant Pepper's" closed things out in solid fashion.

The thing this Phoenix crowd will probably be talking about in a year, however, is the bragging rights that come with being the first American audience to hear "Ob-La-Di" live. That's something that's truly staggering. Given that the entire Beatles catalog is less than 10 hours long, and is probably the best-known oeuvre in popular music, there's really no such thing as a "deep cut."

Considering he's been one of the most prominent musicians in the world since the early 1960s, and has toured extensively over the years, you'd think McCartney would have long-ago tapped every jug in the cellar.

The fact that he hasn't is just one more reason to appreciate him.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Paul McCartney at Jobing.com Arena.

Better Than: WWE Superstar Edge's entrance music, though I didn't catch New Times clubs editor Benjamin Leatherman singing along to any of McCartney's songs.

Personal Bias: McCartney over Lennon. Totally anti-Ringo.

By the Way: As best I can tell, there is no comprehensive Internet list of Beatles songs that have never been played live by a member of the band. Can someone point me to one? Or maybe we can make one in the comments section? That'd be a cool resource to have.


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1 comments
Qazrazl
Qazrazl

Wow, you are the asshole I expected you to be. Paid for your opinion? So you think that matters? It's a fucking free rag called NewTimes not The Wall Street Journal. No wonder you are regarded as the dick you are.

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