Paul McCartney, a time machine, and a popsicle.

2 Aug

Last night, Paul McCartney played Wrigley Field.  I was there, and it was amazing.

I’m a second generation Beatles fan.  My mother had tickets to see the Beatles in the sixties, but let a friend talk her into waiting by their hotel instead of going to the show, a decision she regrets to this day, since, surprisingly, John Lennon did not stop the limo and demand that my mother, then fourteen, join him.

I felt a little out of place sometimes.  I’m not that much of a Paul girl, per se.  My heart belongs to John.  I don’t know Paul’s solo work all that well, except that I grew up in the 70s and Wings stuff was definitely hard to avoid.  But a Beatle’s a Beatle, and I knew Paul’s shows were incredible.  So when I heard him playing “Lady Madonna” during the sound check, my knees buckled a little.

Our seats were on the field, which meant we got little glo-pink bracelets to wear, signifying our superior status. No one needed to kowtow or anything, and one security guard was even testy when I showed it and my ticket when coming back from the bathrooms.   It tickled my wrist and I kept thinking I was getting bitten by a bug.

Next to me was a couple who saw Paul’s shows regularly.  They were delightful to talk to, and we geeked out together.  In front of me were a group of people whom I will describe as goombas.  Big, Italian guys with their pretty wives.  They kept grabbing each other by the back of the neck to draw them in and talk in their ears.  While I was surprised that they would have so much to say during the concert, I was really annoyed that it blocked my view every time they did.  Eventually, they started taking turns to get beer, which cleared things up.  And by the end, Paul had completely won them over.  They were singing and dancing with the rest of us.

The first part of the concert was me just forcing my brain to recognize that this, *this* was Paul McCartney.  The same Paul McCartney who played in Hamburg, who had an ornery grandfather, who sang on the rooftop of Apple, and on and on.  Here he was.  The Beatles songs did the trick.  Every time he played a Beatles song, particularly an earlier one, I found myself jumping up and down in the throes of Beatlemania, fifty years out of time.

The set list was over 30 songs.  What struck me was how Paul never let up.  It was just awesome song after awesome song.  And the size and power of the crowd was amazing.  I was surrounded by tens of thousands of people who were all singing and cheering.  I loved seeing the people standing on the rooftops and watching, and thinking about how our sound and light was visible across the city.  We were an oasis of music and, at the risk of sounding cheesy, love.

I cried hard during “Here Today” (the goombahs all sat down).  That song breaks me up when I listen to a recording of it; a live performance was more than I could handle.  But mostly, I danced.  Mrs. Vandebilt, Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da (did Paul invent Ska with that song?) were just joyful.  I was blown away by “Live and Let Die” and “Helter Skelter.”  I wish he had done “All You Need is Love” instead of “Give Peace a Chance,” but I waved my arms to the sky and sang with everyone.  During “Yesterday” (one of the two encores) I turned around and looked at the crowd around me and marveled at the mass of humanity all singing together.

When Paul finally said good night (and meant it, after two encores), I was exhilarated and completely exhausted. As we walked down Addison, we stopped and bought popsicles from an ice cream truck.  Everyone was buzzing, and someone was blasting Paul’s music from their car stereo.  By the time we got in our car (and normally, you wouldn’t hand your car keys and fifty bucks to a strange in an alley, but before an event at Wrigley, it’s quite normal) and wound our way through the crowd, it was about 1 in the morning.  I still needed to calm down, so I sat and read the program book.  In it, I saw a quote that I really loved:

You have played with some of the best musicians in the world; is there anyone you would like to join you for a number?

John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.

Me too, Paul. Me too.

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