Wednesday marked the second and final performance of the legendary Sir Paul McCartney in Sydney, as he continues his One by One Tour around the country. By now, you’ve likely heard just how brilliant these shows have been, cramming in upwards of 40 songs in 3 hours – the vast majority of those tracks Beatles classics. And this show was no exception.
That said, the night did take a while to get into gear – that may have been due to average sound where I was sitting, or the fact the guy behind me, who was clearly taken by his partner and didn’t want to be there, kept complaining – sort of killing the vibe, dude. McCartney also knew of the effect playing some of his newer songs had on the set, “When we play a Beatles song, all the phones go up… then it’s like a black hole when we play new songs. But we don’t care, we’re going to do it anyway.” And fair credit to him – he can do as he please. The man is a hard working performer by no stretch of the imagination.
But halfway through, when “Eleanor Rigby”, “I Wanna Be Your Man” and “Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite” kicked off a Beatles run for the ages, the mood seemed to shift. The sound got better, the guy behind me started singing along to every song and the emotional impact of the music everyone in that stadium grew up with really took hold. It made for some incredible sing alongs, which even led Sir Paul to take a minute to “take it all in”.
He shared stories, “I can still hear the nerves in my voice when I listen back to “Love Me Do”, was funny in a daggy-but-cool Dad sort of way (“And that’s the only wardrobe change for the whole evening – that’s it!” her remarked after he removed his jacket). And though his vocals weren’t always perfect, as in “Here Today”, which he wrote after Lennon passed, it’s hard to fault the musician or showmanship of one of the most iconic musicians and songwriters of all time. The fact I get to sing along to some of my favourite songs of all time with the man who wrote them is not an opportunity I take lightly, nor without the respect that experience deserves. And for us Australian fans, short of overseas jaunts, it’ll probably be our last chance to do so.
From a production point of view, the show wasted little expense. Sure, there may have only been one costume change, but there were plenty of lasers in “…Mr. Kite”, “Band On the Run”, and then the smoke from the fireworks used during “Live and Let Die” amped the laser show up a notch.
“I Wanna Be Your Man” exploded into a rock show, sounding as good as ever, after he talked about sending the song to The Stones. “Back in the USSR” and “Helter Skelter” continued the rock vibes. He did “Something” on the ukulele, dedicated it to George, and then artfully moved into electric mode. And nothing beats 40,000+ people singing along to “Hey Jude”.
But what really stuck with me was the guy behind me. Complaining about being dragged along to see some daggy old guy. By the end of the night he had tears in his eyes like the rest of us. And that’s the power of McCartney – he’s got some of the greatest music of all time under his belt, and he knows how to take that, and build it into one of the greatest live shows on the planet – jumping between his iconic bass, acoustic, electric, piano and a ukulele. The man works hard.
As the fireworks and confetti rang out overhead and McCartney ran off stage, one thing was certain: if you don’t walk out of a Paul McCartney concert grinning from ear to ear, you’re an asshole.
A Hard Day’s Night
Can’t Buy Me Love
Drive My Car
Let Me Roll It
I’ve Got a Feeling
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
Maybe I’m Amazed
We Can Work It Out
In Spite of All the Danger
You Won’t See Me
Love Me Do
And I Love Her
I Wanna Be Your Man
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
A Day in the Life
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
I Saw Her Standing There
Mull of Kintyre
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
Carry That Weight
Paul McCartney concludes his tour around Australia next week in Sydney with two shows, 11th and 13th December at Qudos Bank Arena – a rare indoor appearance from the Beatles frontman – but not before he hits up Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday. Head to https://www.frontiertouring.com/paulmccartney for more details.
The writer attended the concert at AAMI Park in Melbourne on 6th December 2017 as a guest of Frontier Touring.
Photo Credit: Mary McCartney.