Monday, July 20, 2009

Paul McCartney at Citifield

The anticipation for the concert you're about to attend is creating a distracting crescendo of eagerness. Your nervous raw energy is palpable. Tension is high. You know you've got an assigned seat- but you just can't stand to miss ANYTHING. You glance at your computer screen's clock every waking second. The numbers seem to be going BACKWARDS. "When will it be time to go??!" you scream inside your head. These are the emotions of a fan on the brink of maniacal concert hysteria. I know the feeling well.

However, this night, it wasn't me who was feeling it. It was my good friend, Ms. Lee Ann's (of The Lion's Share) turn to be the excitable music fan. She had miraculously landed us tickets to see Sir Paul McCartney's inaugural performance at the new Citifield on Friday, July 17th 2009. The Beatles became a part of New York's rich and eclectic history back in 1964, and Sir Paul was to continue this very beautiful tradition at the new stadium. I got an email asking whether or not I wanted to go, and I simply replied with my spending limit. OF COURSE I was in. We're talking 1/4 of the BEATLES for God's sake! BUT that was only one part of the motivation for me to go to this show...

I was raised on the Beatles. Their music was sung to me when I was a wee little babe in my mother's arms. It was the Beatles who first tapped my brain awake and made me realize the true potential and depth of music. The White Album, Revolver, and Abbey Road were on HEAVY rotation in my parent's cars no matter what length the car trip. Songs like Eleanor Rigby made me realize the kind of power music could produce and what it could stir awake inside of you. The relationship I have with the Beatles' music I owe to my parent's, and I HAD to honor that. Yet another reason I went is, well, I love them! It breaks my heart to think the world was robbed of John and George... but I knew I could count on Paul to honor their music and memory. The MAIN motivation behind my going, actually had little to do with me... you see, my dear friend Lee Ann is a true Beatles fan, in every sense of the word, it's a treat for me to witness her lose her cool, to watch her crack an insanely huge grin, to see her dance, laugh, cry, and teem with excitement. People always get to witness me like this, but seldom do I get the chance to see it in others. Lee Ann replicated for me EXACTLY the kind of Beatlemania experience I was looking for. If I couldn't be there in 1964- I certainly wasn't going to miss it now!

Lee Ann was a wound up ball of eager energy when I got to her. The anticipation was rolling off of her in WAVES. I've never seen her so antsy. We got there early enough to catch a little bite to eat, and took sort of a misguided mini-tour of the new stadium (yes, it really is as nice as you've heard). We eventually found our way to the "Excelsior" seats. We were surrounded by thousands of people all eagerly anticipating the history about to be made and caught the opening act, The Script from Dublin, Ireland. They were decent. I ain't gonna lie- they really weren't my "sound" per se, but they were certainly audible and fun. They performed well- and even ended with Bowie's "Heroes" (I swear, just to win me over). It dawned on me that, technically, THEY were the first band to play the new stadium, and not Sir Paul, no one else seemed to be bothered by this fact but me, so I SUPPOSE I will let it slide.

(What felts like) EONS later began with a gathering of ant-sized souls on stage and massive excited cheers, grunts, and hollers. Like a shock sent to the entire audience's nervous system, the show began with the classic "Drive My Car". I looked over to Lee Ann whenever I could bear to peel my eyes away from the massive jumbotron. She was elation incarnate. She danced giggled and jumped around like she was a pre-teen maniac. I couldn't stop smiling, and siphoning the excess energy.

I could go on for pages and pages about how this show impacted me. I could give you every minute detail. The CHILLS that inexplicably ran up and down my arms and legs when "Got To Get You Into My Life" came on. The tears that welled up when Sir Paul said dedicated "My Love" to his dearly departed soul mate and wife Linda. The loss I felt when he brought up George and how they used to play together as young men in the streets of Liverpool. When he mentioned John and explained how "Here Today" was a fictional conversation he thought the two of them would have if John was still well, here today. I couldn't get over how such an incredibly successful and prolific man, who has lived such an incredible life, has faced so much darkness and sorrow...yet still he jokes, he smiles on, and chides the women in the audience to scream. Truly inspiring.

The show progressed with many highs and lows all good regardless of what emotional state they put us in. There were many massive and hugely audible sighs during "Something". My favorite crowd moment would have to be the collective "awws" that resounded through the stadium as Sir Paul began to sing "Yesterday". Though nothing will top the moment Paul began to play my comrade Lee Ann's favorite song, "Calico Skies", I looked over at her, and her whole face shifted into the face of a misty-eyed angel. I've never seen that response in someone else at a show. I've experienced it myself countless times... but to be from the outside looking at it... it was priceless. It reminded of me why I prefer going to shows with others- for moments like that- when you see that true fans reaction to music that moves them.

I am eternally grateful that I got to share this experience with Lee Ann and the thousands of others who were there. I feel like I am now part of NYC's rich history. This was something special. For 2 hours and 45 minutes I got to be a kid again, riding in the back of my mom's station wagon, listening to songs like Eleanor Rigby, mourning life's sad trials and celebrating its triumphs. I could go on forever, instead I will leave you with pictures of the "knock you on your ass and drop your jaw pyrotechnics" show put on during "Live and Let Die" & this, "Thank you Paul... SO MUCH!!!"

Setlist - July 17, 2009:
"Drive My Car" --What a perfect opener.
"Only Mama Knows"
"Flaming Pie"
"Got To Get You Into My Life" -- Literally got CHILLS
"Let Me Roll It" -- Lee Ann's first of MANY unexpected moments of emotional jubilation
"The Long and Winding Road" -- This was my first moment of emotional jubilation
"My Love" -- For Linda
"Here Today"
"Dance Tonight" --I really did dance that night, like a little fool like all the others!
"Calico Skies"
"Mrs. Vanderbilt"
"Eleanor Rigby" -- Hearing it. Seeing it. Feeling it. I feel so blessed to have heard this.
"Sing the Changes "
"Band on the Run"
"Back in the U.S.S.R."
"I'm Down"
"Something" -- First on Ukelele (from George) then slowly merged into a BEAUTIFUL rendition of the song.
"I've Got a Feeling"
"Paperback Writer"
"A Day in the Life"/"Give Peace a Chance" -- I was in a total state of shock at this song.
"Let It Be"
"Hey Jude"


"Day Tripper"
"Lady Madonna"
"I Saw Her Standing There (with Billy Joel) -- My mom would've KILLED me to be there for that...
"Helter Skelter"
"Get Back"
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)"/"The End"

1 comment: