Paul McCartney At Dodger Stadium
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By Crystal Larsen
"This is so cool being back here. I'm just going to take a moment for myself and drink it all in," said Paul McCartney when, only three songs into his set, he stepped away from the microphone to survey the 40,000-plus screaming fans in attendance for his historic sold-out return to Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium on Aug. 10.
A Beatle under the influence of his own Beatlemania? Apparently so.
Throughout his three-hour-long set during which the 18-time GRAMMY winner and his band covered plenty of sacred musical ground — from his Wings-era and solo material to his beloved Beatles hits, including a good portion of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band — McCartney, clad in not tennis shoes but Beatle boots, expressed time and time again how happy he was to be back. And his audience, many of which were likely in attendance at his last Dodger Stadium concert on Aug. 28, 1966, welcomed him with the most hand-written signs I've ever seen at a concert.
At one point during the night, McCartney acknowledged how hard it was to read the signs while also focusing on which chords to play. He joked that if he messed up it would be the audience's fault, but one particular sign caught his attention: "Will you be my mom's only tattoo?" McCartney later invited the maker of that sign, and her mother, onstage and granted their wish by signing his name on the mother's arm with a Sharpie.
Now there were two generations of Beatles fans under the influence of Beatlemania.
Frenzied fan moments aside, the best moments of the night were indisputably during the performances, when I saw how influential a songwriter, performer and musician McCartney is. Three songs into his set he performed "All My Loving," leading thousands of voices to simultaneously erupt into a fit of shrieks. He ended his performance of Wings' "Let Me Roll It" with a fiery tribute to Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" along with guitarists Brian Ray and Rusty Anderson. He then took a seat behind the piano for the first of many times for stand-out performances of "Maybe I'm Amazed" and the Beatles' "The Long And Winding Road."
Another highlight was McCartney's solo acoustic performances of "Blackbird" and "Here Today," the latter of which he dedicated to his late Beatle pal, John Lennon, who, for McCartney, was present in the form of a supermoon that shined brightly over the stadium. The evening wouldn't have been complete without a tribute to the late George Harrison.
"How many of you know that George Harrison was a great ukulele player?" McCartney asked before picking up the instrument to play the Harrison-penned ballad "Something" as the crowd sang along to every word.
By the end of the night it was clear that Macca is among the best performers on the planet, with the unique ability to make his fans feel like a million bucks. But it should also be mentioned that McCartney knows how to throw one heck of a party.
Before coming back onstage for two encores, McCartney sat behind the piano again for a baseball-inspired triple featuring "Let It Be," the Wings classic "Live And Let Die" and "Hey Jude." The stadium turned into a sea of blinking lights as thousands of fans grabbed their phones, making sure to record arguably the best night of the year. And just as the first chorus to "Live And Let Die" hit, fireworks erupted from the stage. The fireworks show continued, with McCartney serving as conductor, and each time he dove into the chorus they'd explode into the air.
After leaving momentarily, McCartney, Anderson and Ray returned, each waving the U.S. flag, the British flag and the California flag before giving the audience more of what they wanted to hear — the songs that caused fans of all ages to fall under the influence of Beatlemania, yesterday and still today. After another triple featuring the Abbey Road medley of "Golden Slumbers"/"Carry That Weight"/"The End," McCartney left the stage for the final time, leaving the crowd with these last words:
"And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make."
And we were all satisfied with the love he gave us that night.
"Eight Days A Week" (Beatles)
"All My Loving" (Beatles)
"Listen To What The Man Said" (Wings)
"Let Me Roll It" (Wings)/"Foxy Lady" solo (Jimi Hendrix cover)
"Paperback Writer" (Beatles)
"Nineteen Hundred And Eighty-Five" (Wings)
"The Long And Winding Road" (Beatles)
“Maybe I'm Amazed”
“I've Just Seen A Face" (Beatles)
"We Can Work It Out" (Beatles)
"And I Love Her" (Beatles)
"Lady Madonna" (Beatles)
"All Together Now" (Beatles)
"Lovely Rita" (Beatles)
"Everybody Out There"
"Eleanor Rigby" (Beatles)
"Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! " (Beatles)
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" (Beatles)
"Band On The Run" (Wings)
"Back In The U.S.S.R." (Beatles)
"Let It Be" (Beatles)
"Live And Let Die" (Wings)
"Hey Jude" (Beatles)
"Day Tripper" (Beatles)
"Hi, Hi, Hi" (Wings)
"I Saw Her Standing There" (Beatles)
"Helter Skelter" (Beatles)
"Golden Slumbers" (Beatles)
"Carry That Weight" (Beatles)
"The End" (Beatles)