BOSTON — With ageless charm, Paul McCartney transfixed a record concert crowd of 30,000 at Fenway Park Tuesday evening during the North American leg of his “Out There!” tour.
The 38-song, three-hour set played like an autobiography of McCartney’s life, touching on all the highs and lows. Each song was delivered with precision, but without appearing as if he had performed them a million times.
The show began nearly an hour later than the 7 p.m. scheduled stage time. Inclement weather in New York delaying his sound check was the given cause. Nevertheless, the clouds over Fenway cleared just in time for the crowd to erupt as McCartney and his longtime tour band hit the oversized, glitzed-out stage erected in center field.
The set led off with hits from all the parts of McCartney’s storied career from the Beatles to Wings and to old and new solo work. Fans screamed and cheered for classics like “Eight Days a Week,” “All My Loving,” and “Listen to What the Man Said.” And a smattering of indifferent concertgoers snuck away for a drink and a bathroom break during the newest entry into the McCartney songbook “My Valentine.”
While he could have used the venue to showcase his latest album “Kisses on the Bottom,” McCartney eased into many of the fan-favorite standards you’d hope to hear. Tunes like “The Long and Winding Road,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” and “Blackbird,” proved worth the steep price of admission (as high as $255) for many of the fans, but true gems rarely and in some cases never performed live such as “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” “And I Love Her,” and “Lovely Rita” were a treat for the Macca devotee.
Throughout the moonlit summer evening, McCartney, paid tribute to relationships that have shaped much of his public life including: “Here Today,” a musical letter to his best friend and fellow Beatle John Lennon; “Maybe I’m Amazed,” one of dozens of songs he wrote to his late wife Linda McCartney who died of breast cancer in 1998; “Let it Be, “ an ode to his late “Mother Mary” who died of an embolism when McCartney was just 14; and “Something,” a version of another song by a late Beatle. He played a ukulele given to him by George Harrison.
McCartney finished the show with a roundup of some of his most popular songs including “Obladi Oblada,” “Band on the Run,” “Back in the USSR,” “Let it Be,” a firework-laced “Live and Let Die,” and “Hey Jude.”
For an encore the high-energy band rolled out standards “Daytripper,” “Hi, Hi, Hi,” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” leading to the showpiece second encore of “Yesterday,” “Helter Skelter,” and the “Abbey Road” finishing medley of “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “the End.”
Again fireworks filled the sky just minutes before the 11 p.m. noise curfew for Fenway concerts.
McCartney has spent the last 50 years under the heavy surveillance of the public eye. And while many of his contemporaries have retired or dulled, or see performing as a taxing routine, he’s visibly still moved to not only perform, but to do so with flourish. The skill, like the charm, seems ageless.
It has been four years since McCartney last performed in Boston when he gave back-to-back shows at Fenway in August of 2009. At the time critics whispered “It must be his final tour.” The whispers have gone away, but the 71-year-old Sir Paul is still “Out There.”
The Fenway Park set list
“Eight Days a Week”
“All My Loving”
“Listen to What the Man Said”
“Let Me Roll It”
“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”
“And I Love Her”
“Your Mother Should Know”
“All Together Now”
“Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!”
“Band on the Run”
“Back in the U.S.S.R.”
“Let It Be”
“Live and Let Die”
“Hi, Hi, Hi”
“I Saw Her Standing There”
“Carry That Weight”
Michael Busack is a former reporter for various New England publications including the Boston Globe, Eagle Tribune, and Worcester Telegram and Gazette. He currently works as the media relations manager at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
This program aired on July 10, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.