Paul McCartney triumphs in Fenway return

A review of Paul McCartney at Fenway Park on July 9, 2013

, Editor-in-Chief

Fenway Park has always been known as the cathedral of baseball parks. Last Tuesday, it hosted another religious experience of sorts with a sold out performance from Paul McCartney. Playing before a record setting crowd of 36,064, the music icon rolled through a nearly three-hour hit parade that delighted the crowd of all ages.

After delivering one of the best shows of 2009 with his last appearance at the home of the Red Sox, Sir Paul showed no signs of slowing down on Tuesday. At 71, Sir Paul has still got it and then some. Fueled by a tremendous backing band, McCartney delivered a set that mixed material from his solo, Wings, and of course Beatles catalogues. As one would expect, the set list of over three-dozen songs sparked a marathon of sing-alongs from the devoted following. And to the delight of most, almost 1/2 of it was different than the 2009 show.

From the Beatles catalogue, the Boston faithful were treated to classics like “We Can Work It Out”, “The Long Winding and Winding Road” and “Blackbird”, the latter of which he performed solo on a rising platform. He paid heartfelt tributes to John Lennon and George Harrison with “Here Today” and “Something” respectively. Wings material included standouts “Listen to What the Man Said” and “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five”. Among the surpises were takes on “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” and “Another Day”, which he recorded with his late wife Linda.

While McCartney is obviously the main attraction, the show’s true power is in his incredible backing band. Rusty Anderson, Bruan Ray, Abe Laboriel, Jr. and Paul Wilkens, each posses great talent but together, they are a sonic force. After playing together for over a decade, they have proved be much more than hired guns but developed into a truly tight cohesive band. McCartney is playing with an effervescent youthful vibe and that in many ways is credit to his band.

The second half of the show really got going with a joyful sing-along of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”. The band excelled on “Band On The Run” and continued with a rocking rendition of “Back in the U.S.S.R.”. Taking a seat at the piano, McCartney led the crowd through a sing-along of “Let It Be” before cranking the amplifiers back up for a pyro-fueled “Live and Let Die”. A wild sing-along of “Hey Jude” brought the 30-song main set to a delightful close.

After a brief rest – for both the band and audience – to catch their breath, McCartney returned to stage waving the flags of Massachusetts and the United Kingdom.  The first of two encores began with “Day Tripper” and continued with a surprising rendition of Wings “Hi Hi Hi”. McCartney had fun with the crowd during a call and answer session that flowed into “I Saw Her Standing There”.

McCartney kicked off the second encore with a solo acoustic rendition of “Yesterday”. With his band back in tow, McCartney turned back the clock with the crunching rocker “Helter Skelter”. Showing no signs of slowing down, the band jammed on before finally bringing the concert to a fitting close with “The End”.

As fans departed Fenway, many whispered about the possibility of witnessing McCartney’s last show in the hub. At this stage in his career, nobody would question him for wanting to settle down and retire. But judging from this show, that does not seem to be in the cards and a return to Boston would certainly be welcome at any time.

Eight Days a Week
Junior’s Farm
All My Loving
Listen to What the Man Said
Let Me Roll It (+”Foxy Lady” snippet)
Paperback Writer
My Valentine
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
The Long and Winding Road
Maybe I’m Amazed
I’ve Just Seen a Face
We Can Work It Out
Another Day
And I Love Her
Here Today
Your Mother Should Know
Lady Madonna
All Together Now
Lovely Rita
Mrs. Vandebilt
Eleanor Rigby
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Hey Jude
  Encore #1
Day Tripper
Hi, Hi, Hi
I Saw Her Standing There
  Encore #2
Helter Skelter
Golden Slumbers
Carry That Weight
The End

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