What’s it like going “first class” to a Paul McCartney concert? Well, if you’re not one of those very special VIPs who get invited backstage, it means buying one of the pricey “VIP” packages on offer.
Such packages run upwards of $1000. And what do you get in return? Here’s a look at the Soundcheck Package for McCartney’s April 17 show at Key Arena in Seattle.
Early entry is the first perk. Doors opened for the approximately 150 Soundcheck VIPs at 4 p.m. After being escorted into a private lounge, drinks and appetizers were provided, while waiting for Sir Paul’s arrival.
It didn’t take too long. By 4:35 p.m., everyone was led into the arena, and placed two-thirds of the way back on the main floor. Drummer Abe Loboreil, Jr., was the sole band member on stage, banging on his drums, pausing for a moment to greet the new arrivals. VIP Ticket Director Shelley Lazar came out and encouraged everyone to be energetic, dance, scream; McCartney likes a lot of energy. “You know that you’re in the company of a genius,” Lazar reminded the attendees.
Eventually McCartney came out, and was duly welcomed with screams. “Hello, you gang of enthusiastic people!” he replied. The soundcheck followed, McCartney switching instruments to check each one. The soundcheck began with McCartney on guitar, the band playing a loose blues jam. Then came the songs proper:
Soundcheck: “Matchbox,” “Yakety Yak,” “Sing the Changes,” “Drive My Car,” “The One After 909,” “Miss Ann,” “Let ‘Em In,” “It’s So Easy,” “Midnight Special,” “Ram On,” “Bluebird,” and “Lady Madonna.” One of the fun things about soundcheck is that most of the songs aren’t performed during the show; it’s like getting a private preview. “Lady Madonna” was the only song performed at both soundcheck and the full show.
Attendees were told there would be no autographs during the soundcheck. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and some enterprising fans had brought a sign saying they’d go vegetarian if they could meet Laboriel and keyboardist Paul “Wix” Wickens. They were rewarded by being brought on stage at the end of soundcheck getting their sign autographed, and getting a hug from Sir Paul.
Then it was back to the lounge for a vegetarian buffet, and more drinks. Escorts were available to the merchandise stands for people who wanted to beat the crowds before the doors were thrown open to the public. And each package holder got some bonus items: a large insulated tote, a “One on One” blanket, a limited edition lithograph with the date of the show, a commemorative ticket, and a lanyard. And seating in the first six rows.
In the arena, a club like atmosphere was created with a DJ creating (very loud) mashups of Beatles and McCartney songs. A rotating screen told McCartney’s story through pictures and images. Thus primed, the crowd eagerly leapt to its feet when the lights went out. A sign that McCartney audiences are getting older; though standing throughout a show is typical these days, there were more people who needed to take sit-down breaks than in previous years.
The show opened with “A Hard Day’s Night,” this tour marking the first time McCartney has performed this song since his Beatle days. The crowd especially loved the more energetic numbers, in particular the great run of “Ob-La Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Band on the Run,” and “Back in the USSR” at the main show’s end. Let’s not overlook the good work Paul’s done post-Beatles, and post-Wings, such as “Sing the Changes,” “My Valentine,” and “Queenie Eye.” And topping it all off was “Helter Skelter” during the encore, with Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic on bass (Novoselic also played with Sir Paul at his last Seattle concert).
Setlist: “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Save Us,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Letting Go,” “Temporary Secretary,” “Let Me Roll It,” “I’ve Got a Feeling,” “My Valentine,” “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five,” “Here, There and Everywhere,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “We Can Work It Out,” “In Spite of All the Danger,” “You Wont’ See Me,” “Love Me Do,” “And I Love Her,” “Blackbird,” “Here Today,” “Queenie Eye,” “New,” “The Fool on the Hill,” “Lady Madonna,” “FourFiveSeconds,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” “Something,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-La,” “Band on the Run,” “Back in the USSR,” “Let It Be,” “Live and Let Die,” “Hey Jude.”
Encore: “Yesterday,” “Hi, Hi, Hi,” “Birthday,” “Helter Skelter” (with Krist Novoselic), “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End.”
More Seattle McCartney reviews from National Music Examiner.