Paul McCartney and his band continued their “One on One” tour at Key Arena in Seattle, Washington last night, April 17, 2016. The event was full to the brim with 18,000 enthusiastic fans who poured into the venue wearing McCartney T-shirts from past concerts, ready to rock and roll, no matter what their age. The show lasted nearly three hours, lasting from 8:30pm to 11:15pm. The National Music Examiner attended the show, and here is a full report of the night, which can only be described as unforgettable. From Nirvana bassist Krist Novaselic’s appearance on “Helter Skelter”, to “tattoo virgins” there was never a dull moment. Most definitely, “a splendid time was guaranteed for all.”
It’s hard to imagine that it was almost “fifty years ago today” that Paul played this very same venue with the Beatles, on August 25, 1966, when it was named Seattle Center Coliseum. Linda Work said, “I was there. I was in the 4th row, and still the screaming was so loud, you could only see their mouths move. It was incredible.” Their first visit to Seattle was two years earlier, August 21, 1964, when they played the same site.
Paul was back after a three-year absence from Seattle, last playing here in 2013 at Safeco Field, the first concert held at that venue. In the hour before show time, mash-ups of McCartney’s music were played by a deejay on stage, accompanied by a new version of the scrolling video presentation on both sides of the stage while people were getting seated. The feeling in the arena was positively electric. Seattle’s devotion and love for Paul McCartney has never waned. It is not lost on anyone that having McCartney here is an historic occasion, and one that no one wants to miss.
Mike West, deejay of “Breakfast with the Beatles” in Seattle, wearing his LIPA shirt, walked towards his seat at the front of the stage with a big white McCartney zippered tote bag. He said, glowing, “I’m about to become a grandfather and didn’t buy a ticket. But my friend surprised me with this VIP ticket and I wasn’t going to pass it up!”
McCartney’s band, Brian Ray, Rusty Anderson, Abe Laboriel, and Wix Wickens have been with him longer than the Beatles were together, and are a fine match with McCartney with their enthusiasm and talent. They did 39 songs, featuring selections spanning from his entire career. The vast majority of the songs performed last night were Beatles hits, with Wings and various solo numbers sprinkled throughout.
There are some surprising and interesting song choices in this tour; “In Spite of All the Danger” was an early tune composed in 1958 and first recording with the Quarrymen, the band he joined at John Lennon’s invitation, in Liverpool. The younger fans reacted very enthusiastically to “FourFiveSeconds”, a song he collaborated on with Rhianna and Kanye West in 2015 to critical acclaim. Another first-time-live song was the electronic ditty, “Temporary Secretary” (1980, McCartney II) because as he said, “The deejays are going crazy with this, so why not us?”
Paul did his special tribute to Jimi Hendrix with a guitar solo of “Foxy Lady”, saying “here’s to your home-grown Seattle boy!” to enthusiastic cheers. Other songs from the 2013 “New” album were the very popular “Queenie Eye” and “New,” while “My Valentine” (2012, “Kisses on the Bottom”) was dedicated to his wife Nancy.
Beatles hits included “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Here There and Everywhere”, “Love Me Do”, with a special tribute to producer, the late George Martin, “And I Love Her,” “Eleanor Rigby” and “I’ve Got a Feeling” among many others. “Blackbird” got rousing cheers. Wings hits included “Letting Go”, “Let Me Roll It”, “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five”, and “Maybe I’m Amazed,” a special tribute to first wife Linda.
Paul’s heart-felt tributes to John Lennon and George Harrison continue in this tour, with his song written for John Lennon, “Here Today” (1982, “Tug of War”), and Harrison’s song “Something”, on ukulele—one of George’s favorite instruments. As usual, “Live and Let Die” was absolutely amazing with its pyrotechnics.
Towards the end of the show, Paul gave a fan a rare chance to be on stage with him. A woman held up a sign, which Paul read to the audience. It said “I’m a 65-year old tattoo virgin. Please sign me and be my first.” Paul called her up on stage and signed her arm, to cheers from the audience. She said, “I’ve been saving myself for you Paul!” There is no doubt what she is doing today…another sign said “Paul McCartney for President,” and another one said “Congratulations; you saw me, after coming to over 40 of your shows.” Showing the “one on one” connection Paul has with his fans, he said, “I know you, I’ve seen you before!”
Nirvana in encore performance of “Helter Skelter”
McCartney had a special gift for Seattle. After “Hey Jude”, (which included much audience participation in the “na-na’s”,) he came back for an incredible encore consisting of several songs. Beginning with “Yesterday” and “Hi Hi Hi” (Wings), he announced, “We’ve got a little surprise for you, Seattle,” and Krist Novaselic of Nirvana came on stage to cheers, playing a rousing rendition of “Helter Skelter with the band. The medley of “Golden Slumbers” with “Carry That Weight”, ending with “The End” and the ceiling opened up with confetti.
One fascinating aspect of Paul’s shows is that they attract all generations–this writer’s daughter, Brianna, was there with a friend and had laryngitis at the end of the show from screaming and singing throughout the show. She managed to say, “I can’t believe it. It was so amazing!” Another friend, Tessa Reichlan, who has been to over one hundred McCartney shows, said, “The show was brilliant…and Paul was breathtaking!!” Ken Davies of Kirkland said, “What I witnessed last night was like looking through the looking glass of history.”
It truly is like witnessing history. Even if you have seen Paul’s shows live for many years, it never gets old. He shuffles the set list in a way that there are always surprising elements and songs he has never performed live before. The love and admiration felt for him fills the room, and it’s an experience you must experience at least once, because you will never forget it.
For a run-down on the VIP packages, see Gillian G. Gaar’s article listed below.