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Photos and words by Alex Kluft

In the history of music, no other band changed the face of music and had the success the Beatles had. As the Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr only toured from 1962-1966, and in one decade released 13 studio albums. After the Beatles Broke up in 1970, Paul McCartney became a solo artist then in 1971 started a new band known as Wings which had great success and a number of hit singles. After a decade with Wings, McCartney has remained a solo artist to this day. McCartney has achieved many honors and has received numerous awards including being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, won a total of 18 Grammys, was Musicares Person of the Year, is a Kennedy Center Honoree, and is a two-time Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee. To top that off McCartney has written/co-written 32 number one singles and is one of very few artists to become a billionaire.

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Over the past decade McCartney has performed on the Grammys several times and inducted his old bandmate Ringo Starr into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. The Beatlesmay very well be the most documented band of all between all the books, documentaries, magazines and more. 50 years after the famous rooftop performance on top of Apple Corps, a documentary series was released directed by Peter Jackson. The Beatles: Get Back showed never before seen footage of the recording of the group’s final album in which several songs had been recorded on the rooftop. This footage shows 21 days worth of rehearsals and the full rooftop performance. There was also a movie of the same name but also adding Rooftop Concert to the title for a limited engagement earlier this year. The hour long film featured the entire performance as well as what was going on in the streets below and what happened following the police shutting them down after numerous noise complaints.

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McCartney’s tour stopped at SoFi Stadium, home of the Super Bowl winning Los Angeles Rams Friday night (5/13) on his newest tour "Got Back." This was McCartney’s first stadium show this tour. McCartney is one of the few artists that can play stadium shows each time they tour, and it comes as no surprise considering how popular his music is after over six decades. This is the type of show where you see families of multiple generations coming such as grandparents that saw the Beatles over 50 years ago, taking their grandkids to see McCartney. McCartney's touring and recording band of Brian Ray (Guitar/Bass), Abe Laboriel Jr. (Drums), Rusty Anderson, and his keyboardist of 30 years Paul “Wix” Wickens, has actually been his longest running line up. The phrase "age doesn’t mean anything" definitely applies, as McCartney plays a staggering 36 songs over 2.5 hours to a crowd of 20,000+ people a night. McCartney’s last tour, "Freshen Up," ended on July 13th at Dodger Stadium, which included guest appearances from none other than Ringo Starr and his brother-in-law Joe Walsh of the Eagles. McCartney played his first show since April 28th when he kicked off the "Got Back" tour in Spokane, WA. On opening night McCartney played “Getting Better,” and “You Never Give Me Your Money,” for the first time since 2003 and “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” for the first time since 2008.

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Before the tour started McCartney put out a preview video showing off a behind the scenes look at the new visuals and short interviews with the band. The last time McCartney toured, his album Egypt Station had come out the year before. In 2020 McCartney III was released following McCartney and McCartney II, however there was a 10-year gap between those two. McCartney III received two Grammy nominations. The concept behind this just like the first two is that McCartney recorded all the instruments minus one song where he did not play drums or guitar. This album was released not only digitally but on CD, vinyl, and even cassette.

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McCartney's setlist do change each night, but the majority stay the same. This massive 36-song set includes Beatles, Wings, and solo hits. McCartney opened the show with “A Hard Day’s Night,” to get the crowd going and kept the energy up with “Junior’s Farm,” and slowed it down a bit with Wings' “Letting Go,” before jumping back into the Beatles with “Got to Get You Into My Life.” McCartney shared a story of how Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released on a Friday and by Sunday Jimi Hendrix was already playing it. Eight songs in, McCartney switched over to grand piano in the back for the next four songs starting with Wings' “Let ‘Em In.” Next was “My Valentine” written for his wife Nancy Shevell featuring a video including Johnny Depp which has been used for the last few tours. After “Maybe I’m Amazed,” McCartney switched back to bass. “Maybe I’m Amazed” was written for his first wife Linda McCartney as a tribute to her legacy.

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A personal favorite part of the show came just two songs later when McCartney took the audience back to the pre-Beatles days at the Cavern Club when he played along with Lennon and Harrison as the Quarrymen for “In Spite of All Danger.” McCartney shared many stories throughout the night but this one in particular was quite humorous. The recording cost 5 pounds and at the time there were 5, "Me, John [Lennon], George [Harrison], Colin [Hanton] on drums and a guy named [John] Duff [Lowe] on piano. Each one kept it for a week then we gave it to Duff. He kept it for 20 years and sold it back to us at a quite considerable profit.” Hanton and Lowe still continue to play together to this day as The Quarrymen. McCartney was just 15 when he joined the group, Lennon was 17, and Harrison 14.

McCartney and his band all play closely together with an old farm house or shack on the screen and Wix plays harmonica and Laboriel Jr. plays on a more cocktail style drumset as the screens on stage move around to look like an old shack. McCartney and his band's intimate set continued with “Love Me Do,” which included a great story about performing it the first time for their producer George Martin in which McCartney said “He produced all our albums so he must've been good.” This part of the show also included “Dance Tonight,” performed by McCartney on mandolin. It is always fun to watch Laboriel Jr. dance during it.

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The next part of the show McCartney was alone onstage as he played “Blackbird” solo acoustic as the stage rose. McCartney stayed on the rising stage as he paid tribute to his Beatle songwriting partner and band-mate John Lennon with “Here Today,” a song that is about a conversation the two never got to have. McCartney descended down and played songs “New” and “Lady Madonna.” As always the visuals for “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” were incredible.

When McCartney performed “Something,” he started it off playing on a ukulele, possibly the one that Harrison gave him. McCartney continued with “Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da,” which he let the audience sing parts of. “Get Back” featured new visuals with the help of Peter Jackson from the docu-series.

There are always emotional parts during McCartney shows and one key one was when he performed “Let It Be.” This had the audience waving their cell phone flashlights. While McCartney was on grand piano he followed with Wings’ “Live and Let Die.” It seemed like McCartney had more fireworks and pyro this time than even the last tour. He also played one last song on piano “Hey Jude,” however that was on his famous painted upright piano which he used earlier in the show. As always, McCartney got up to lead a sing-a-long and had the men and women in the crowd trade off singing the chorus.

After already playing 30 songs, McCartney returned for an encore starting with “I’ve Got A Feeling,” and was able to do something special for the first time ever thanks to modern technology. After opening night, the most talked about moment of the show was the virtual duet with Lennon. As McCartney said following the song, Jackson was able to isolate Lennon’s vocals. This was combined with footage from the rooftop performance.

The second song of the encore was “Birthday.” After “Helter Skelter,” McCartney finished the show with his usual closing songs of “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “The End,” which are the final tracks on Abbey Road.

Setlist:

  1. Can’t Buy Me Love- The Beatles
  2. Junior’s Farm- Wings
  3. Letting Go- Wings
  4. Got to Get You Into My Life- The Beatles
  5. Come On to Me
  6. Let Me Roll It/ Foxy Lady- Wings
  7. Getting Better- The Beatles
  8. Let ‘Em In- Wings
  9. My Valentine
  10. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five- Wings
  11. Maybe I’m Amazed- The Beatles
  12. We Can Work it Out
  13. In Spite of All the Danger- The Quarrymen
  14. Love Me Do- The Beatles
  15. Dance Tonight
  16. Blackbird- The Beatles
  17. Here Today
  18. New
  19. Lady Madonna- The Beatles
  20. Fuh You
  21. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!- The Beatles
  22. Something- The Beatles
  23. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da- The Beatles
  24. You Never Give Me Your Money- The Beatles
  25. She Came In Through the Bathroom Window- The Beatles
  26. Get Back- The Beatles
  27. Band on the Run- Wings
  28. Let It Be- The Beatles
  29. Live and Let Die- Wings
  30. Hey Jude- The Beatles

Encore

  1. I’ve Got a Feeling- The Beatles virtual duet with John Lennon
  2. Birthday- The Beatles
  3. Helter Skelter- The Beatles
  4. Golden Slumbers- The Beatles
  5. Carry That Weight- The Beatles
  6. The End- The Beatles