Paul McCartney performs in Vancouver
By Jeff Allen, Contributor
If Paul McCartney died back in the ‘60s (as Abbey Road would have us believe), his 70-year-old surrogate did one hell of a job filling in at BC Place on Sunday, November 25. McCartney proved that rock and roll is no longer a young man’s game; not if the old masters do it as well as he did. For anybody who has ever been touched by McCartney’s music, the experience was enough to put an ear-to-ear grin on your mug for the better part of the nearly three hour-long concert.
Anchored by his exceptionally tight four-piece band—the very same who have been serving Sir Paul well for the past decade—Macca delivered all the hits any fan could want. “Yesterday,” check. “Let it Be,” check. “Helter Skelter,” check. A newish love ballad dedicated to his current wife, performed in sign language on a giant video screen by Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp, check and check.
This performance of the On the Run Tour was also impressive in its technical mastery. Two giant high-definition video screens bookended either side of the stage, providing even the worst seats with a magical mystery front row perspective. At one point, McCartney thanked all the technicians and road crew for their hard work, and rightly so. The sound was amazing for BC Place, as the venue’s reputation for good acoustics at big shows has typically ranged from “piss poor” to “extremely shitty.” The sound quality for this show may have been some of the best I’ve experienced at any venue, period. The stellar lightshow culminated with the classic James Bond theme, “Live and Let Die,” which set off enough explosives and pyrotechnics to satisfy even the most jaded concertgoer—it was a highlight amongst many highlights.
Ultimately the experience would not have been what it was if McCartney was musically off, or resembled his age in any manner. With nary a bum note all night (aside from those of the shrieking baby boomers in attendance), Paul truly shone. Entering the stage looking like, well, Paul McCartney, with his signature Höfner bass and rascally grin, Macca looked like he was having the time of his life, and continued to do so all night.
This wasn’t just any show; it had the aura of a genuine event. For a few hours, we all got to inhabit the same space as a Beatle. We breathed the same air and sang along in time with his songs. The reverence for his career and talent was almost palpable.
Prior to the show, the video screens played a scrolling photo and video montage of McCartney’s life and contemporaries while an on stage DJ remixed Beatles tracks, apparently for the benefit of the kids in the audience who needed a reminder of who they were about to see.
Some would argue the only missing element from the show was the absence of America’s own rock royalty, Bruce Springsteen, whose rumoured appearance surely had some in the crowd waiting with baited breath for a duet of Olympic-sized proportions. Alas, no Bruce, but I for one was glad. Call me crazy, but the show was perfect sans any ‘very special guests’.
If you weren’t lucky enough to attend, what can I say, you missed out. I won’t continue gushing, but definitely make a point of checking out Sir Paul McCartney the next time he returns to Vancouver… hey, it could happen!