Sir Paul gets all of NC’s loving during lengthy Charlotte gig

by Ryan Snyder

Paul McCartney shells out every era of his career over three hours at Time Warner Arena. (photo by Ryan Snyder) From the sounds ofthe 15,000-plus screamingpeople who lined thebowl of Time WarnerArena all the way up to therafters up to the heights,one might have thoughtsomething important wasgoing on. Oh right. PaulMcCartney was in town.It’s been 40 years sincethe pop icon announcedthe Beatles’ breakup andin that time, he’s matured into arguably thesingle most famous musician in the entireworld. So much so. in fact, that he’s able tocommand $252 for the best seats and stillnearly sell the place out. That’s a lot of jackto see an artist who’s resting on the laurels ofhis last great piece of music, created nearly30 years ago, but his show in Charlotte lastWednesday was worth every cent.It was still incredible to watch women intheir 50s and 60s burst into hysterical piles ofteary-eyed emotion the moment that Sir Paulwalked on stage, but don’t be fooled by a fewwell meaning reports of a “diverse crowd” inattendance. Based on its attendance, this tourmight as well be entry No. 134 in If only Billy Preston hadbeen accepted as the fifth Beatle.Paul himself isn’t exactly known to callaudibles in his advanced age, so his set listsdeviate little if at all from night to night.Not that that matters however, since histhree-hour, 37-song, two-encore set coveredevery era of his career in close to fulldetail, making it practically impossible to gohome unsatisfied. Even the two enormousLED screens bookending the stage rolled anincredible collection of mostly unpublishedphotos and video pre-show, making the eveningnot only a fine evening of music, but afull-on fantasy for Beatles nostalgists.Even at 68 years of age, Paul’s pipes canstill stand up over the course of a three hourset, though there was a hint of a cackle attimes, particularly as his voice escalated inpitch during the chorus of “Eleanor Rigby.”His musical talents, however, haven’t diminisheda bit. He opened the evening on hissignature Hofner violin bass, getting some ofthe more divisive hits — namely Wings hits“Venus and Mars” and “Jet,” along with hislone Fireman tune “Highway” — out thereearly. He switched over to electric for “I’veGot a Feeling” and “Let Me Roll It,” whichincluded a tease of Jimi Hendrix’s “FoxyLady” by, who McCartney noted as a greatfriend at its conclusion. The stage banterodes to several of his fallen peers did seema little canned at times, but Paul gets a pass.His tribute to George Harrison by playing“Something” on ukulele, of course, is whollyexempt from criticism.Finally there came the image that everyoneknows and loves of the post-Beatles’McCartney: that of him hunched over theivories, singing lovingly into the microphone.The arena cameras knew this much, and werefixated on that angle for nearly every momentof “Let It Be,” “Hey Jude” and “Long andWinding Road,” though they rightfully wentdark for the crowd to focus on the explosiveclimaxes during “Live and Let Die.”At only four members strong, his backingband did leave a little to be desired attimes, leaving you to assume that the focusof the show was on McCartney himself andnot necessarily the music. With such a heftyprice tag on the show, one would think hecould afford to hire strings and horns for thetimes that called for them, “Lady Madonna”in particular.His cheapness aside, he practicallycould have built another set with allthe choice cuts he didn’t play, namely“Maybe I’m Amazed,” “She Loves You,”“Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Getting Better,”“She’s Leaving Home,” “Maxwell’s SilverHammer” and “Michelle.” Fortunately,“Silly Love Songs” was conveniently leftout and those with their radios tuned properlyon the way home were treated to anice live version of “Maybe I’m Amazed.”Not as great as hearing it from the manhimself, but what is?