Concert Review: Paul McCartney

Suncorp Stadium, December 9, 2017

It seems like the world has gone to the dogs these days. Don Burke has been outed as a sex pest, the president of the USA drinks 12 diet cokes a day, and there are lunatics out there doing stuff like this. Stop the world please, I want to get off.

On Saturday night though, the world was good again as I joined 40,000 of my closest mates to see Paul McCartney perform at Suncorp Stadium as part of his One on One tour. Walking back up Caxton Street after the show, I had a thought: thousands of years of human history and I got to be alive at the same time as Sir Paul freakin’ McCartney and see him play live. Maybe things aren’t so grim after-all.

I’ve been waiting for this concert ever since I first got into the Beatles (easily the greatest band ever despite what some killjoy hipsters claim) back in high school. Lots of people had been waiting even longer–McCartney last played Brisbane with Wings in 1976, and hadn’t been back since (the New World Tour visited Australia in 1993 but skipped Queensland… tsk tsk, Paul).

The wait finally came to an end on Saturday, with the instantly recognisable opening chord of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ signalling the start of a three-hour, 40-song journey through the McCartney songbook, spanning from the Quarrymen through to 2015’s ‘FourFiveSeconds’, with 26 (!!!) Beatles songs and half a dozen Wings songs along the way.

Speaking of Wings, the concert proved again just how good their best songs were (just ignore this atrocity). An explosive ‘Live and Let Die’ (literally explosive... there were enough fireworks and flames shooting out of the stage to defeat ISIS) was arguably the highlight of the night, while songs like ‘Band on the Run’ and ‘Jet’ went shoulder to shoulder with the Beatles classics.

Each Beatles song made Suncorp Stadium a time machine back to 1960s Liverpool. Paul’s band have been playing with him for 15 years, and they’ve nailed the Beatles sound in a way that would make George and John proud. Paul himself sounds pretty damn good for 75 as well. He might not be able to reach the odd high note but he’s still got it and sounds better than many performers decades younger.

There was plenty of Liverpudlian humour and story-telling throughout the night. At one point he pulled out a ukulele-George Harrison’s ukulele, no less-telling us how George gave it to him before plucking his way through an emotion-charged ‘Something’.

There were shoutouts to other characters from the Beatles universe as well. John was there in spirit with a snippet of ‘Give Peace a Chance’ and ‘Here Today’, the song Paul wrote for him after he died. ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ was prefaced with a story about how the Beatles gave the song to the Stones to record – it became their first hit single. ‘My Valentine’ was dedicated to Paul’s current wife, Nancy, while Linda was eulogised with the gorgeous ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’.

Songs like ‘Love Me Do’ and ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ took us right back to the early days of the fab four, Sgt Pepper songs got the live treatment they always deserved, while the crowd became a choir for ‘Hey Jude’ as a sea of waving mobile phone torches lit the stands up like a starry night.

Strangely, while most of the crowd were singing along during ‘Hey Jude’, the bloke behind me (who seemed permanently pissed off all night) looked about as stoked as someone queuing at the post office to pick up a parcel. You don’t have to go apeshit mate but at least tap your foot or something to show you aren’t clinically dead. PS. standing up during the encore isn’t a war crime.

But that’s enough talk about Mr. Grump. A monumental eight-song encore finished the show, beginning with ‘Yesterday’, taking in ‘Get Back’, ‘Mull of Kintyre’ (complete with an impressive pipe band), the near-metal ‘Helter Skelter’ and concluding with ‘Golden Slumbers / Carry the Weight / The End’ from the Abbey Road medley.

Those last words from ‘The End’–“and in the end / the love you take / is equal to the love you make”–has there even been a better lyric to finish a concert with?

It’s 24 years since Paul last came to Australia. If he waits that long again, he wouldn’t be back until he’s 99. I know it’ll likely be the first and last time I’ll ever see him. I am happy with that. Number one on the concert bucket list, seeing Paul McCartney live: completed it, mate. 

Setlist

A Hard Day’s Night
Junior’s Farm
Can’t Buy Me Love
Jet
All My Loving
Let Me Roll It
I’ve Got a Feeling
My Valentine
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
Maybe I’m Amazed
I’ve Just Seen a Face
In Spite of All the Danger
You Won’t See Me
Love Me Do
And I Love Her
Blackbird
Here Today
Queenie Eye
Lady Madonna
FourFiveSeconds
Eleanor Rigby
I Wanna Be Your Man
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
Something
A Day in the Life / Give Peace a Chance
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Hey Jude
Yesterday
Get Back
Mull of Kintyre
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
Helter Skelter
Golden Slumbers
Carry That Weight
The End

The best and worst of living in Melbourne

When Tess and I moved from Brisbane down to to Melbourne at the end of 2014, there were a couple of potential outcomes.

We could have gone full-Melburnian (NEVER go full Melburnian) and ended up with sleeve tattoos and ‘ironic’ shit clothes, riding fixies everywhere and surviving solely off organic gluten-free paleo vegan acai bowls.

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Sunset over St Kilda. Decent.

Or we could have hated Melbourne, and fled for the sanctuary of Queensland where we could live out our days hooked up to an intravenous supply of Bundaberg Rum and ending all of our sentences with “ayyy”.

Luckily neither of those things happened. Nearly 18 months after moving, we are still here, enjoying Melbourne life – but not without a healthy dose of cynicism.

So here it is, the 5 best and worst things about living in Melbourne…

Best

Food and Drink

Look, I’m not exactly a foodie. I know, I know, that must come as a huuuuge surprise to any of you who have seen me destroy a plate of potato skins at Sizzler.

But even a food philistine like me can’t help but be impressed by Melbourne’s food and drink scene – especially the breakfasts.

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The Kettle Black, South Melbourne

Ohhh the breakfasts (well, brunch really; no one bothers with breakfast before 11). There are just so many amazing places that we hardly go to the same place twice. But if I had to pick a favourite, it’d choose The Kettle Black in South Melbourne.

Word of warning: if you’re a simpleton from Queensland like me, bring a dictionary if you go for breakfast anywhere. Otherwise, good luck trying to work out what the hell things like freekah, chevre or medjool are.

Other than breakfast, I recommend the coffee at Brother Baba Budan, the donuts at Short Stop, the drinks at Murmur, and dinner at Chin Chin (all in the city). If you’re after an ice-cream, check out Will’s Batch in Elsternwick, while for an Indian takeaway, you can’t beat Babu Ji in St Kilda.

The Sporting Capital of Australia

Other than Melbourne, where else in the world can you go to a Grand Prix and tennis grand slam in the same city?

Nowhere else, that’s where.

Nothing beats sitting in the stands at the ‘G or soaking up the fiery atmosphere of a Melbourne derby.

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The Melbourne A-League Derby

People here keep asking me have I gotten into AFL yet? No, not really, I’m still an NRL (and A-League) man. I have got into AFL a bit more, I suppose. It’s hard not to when it makes up the first 18 pages of the weekend sport section… it’s inescapable!

Daylight Savings

Dear anti-Daylight Savings people of Queensland, let me confirm to you that daylight savings does NOT:

  • Fade the curtains
  • Confuse animals
  • Make the day hotter

It does however, let you finish work, come home, and still go for a walk or have a BBQ while it’s still light outside.

Always something to do

There is always something on. Always. You will never, ever run out of things to do in Melbourne.

Probably the best things we’ve seen would be the Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (it’s still on if you want to go), and the David Bowie is exhibition at ACMI last year.

Oh yeah, and this:

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Yes it’s a Dachshund race – hover dog on the left went on to win

Take U To Da Movies

If the impossible does happen and you do run out of things to do here, here’s my tip: go and see a movie at one of Melbourne’s amazing arthouse and independent cinemas.

I recommend the Lido in Hawthorn or the Art Deco Sun Theater in Yarraville (where Quentin Tarantino and Samuel L. Jackson turned up out of the blue to promote The Hateful Eight).

The Great Ocean Road

There are some beautiful day trips you can do from Melbourne, but nothing beats the Great Ocean Road and the 12 apostles. There is nothing I can say that will do it just, so I’ll just leave this here:

Standing at the limit of an endless ocean Stranded like a runaway, lost at sea
Standing at the limit of an endless ocean
Stranded like a runaway, lost at sea

The Worst

The Drivers

Driving in Melbourne, holy shit. Horrendous. Even the shortest trip ends up like the last lap of the Bathurst 1000.

I learned to drive in Queensland but I think a Victorian driving tests must look like this:

Demonstrated ability to occupy two lanes at once – check
Competency in tailgating – check
Blocks all other motorists from merging – check
Beeps at car in front 0.001 seconds after light turns green – check

Driving to the shops be like
Driving to the shops be like

It’s just insane on the roads here. I’ve been in more car crashes (two, neither of them my fault) and seen more road rage in 18 months than in the entire previous decade of driving in Brisbane.

Terrible weather

The winters are rubbish, but it’s summer that’s kills me. Or more specifically, the lack of (summer = more than 2 hot days in a row).

It was 18 degrees the other day. In January. I was in London a few weeks ago and it was 11 degrees there. Literally only 7 bloody degrees difference between Melbourne summer and London winter. WHAT!?

Locals always say “oh it’s not that bad!” or “yeah but it makes you appreciate the good weather more!”. Yeah righto mate Melbourne’s weather is better than the weather in South Sudan or outer Mongolia. As for the second point, yes I do appreciate good weather more now, but it’s a moot point when I’m wearing a jumper 340 days of the year.

It’s too busy

Me, getting on the train every single morning:

 Elitism

Something weird I’ve noticed here is this bizarre air of Melbourne superiority that some people have, the main theme being MELBOURNE IS THE BEST CITY IN THE WORLD ALL THE OTHER CITIES ARE COMPLETELY TERRIBLE PS. SYDNEY IS WORSE THAN BAGHDAD.

I once unwisely told a colleague that I reckon Brisbane is just as good as Melbourne and he looked at me like I’d just proposed constructing a space-ship out of ants before shouting “YEAH BUT MELBOURNE IS THE WORLD’S MOST LIVABLE CITY” over and over again.

Jimmy

Living next door to an ice fiend in some kind of real life version of the Australian film The King is Dead was AWFUL. Not really Melbourne’s fault (although I’ve become adept at identifying junkies since moving here), but awful all the same.

We knew something was up as soon as “Jimmy” moved in next door. When we first met him we also met his “cleaner”, a rough as guts looking woman aged between 25 and 90. The very first thing she said to us was “Jimmy’s alright you know, I’ll vouch for him”. Err OK.

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Inexplicable. It sat there for 3 hours.

She was right. He was “alright”. But more alright as in “he won’t murder you”, and not the more comforting “he isn’t a drug dealer who will invite junkies around at 3am on a Tuesday who will bash on your windows”.

The 24/7 parade of drug clientele was bad enough, but nothing compared to the bags of used condoms and dead fish he’d leave sitting on the landing. Sometimes there would also be a raw chicken sitting on his doorstep.

Luckily, after 831 emails and phone calls to the police, body corporate and real estate agency, Jimmy eventually got evicted, leaving behind an enormous pile of MDF furniture and used syringes on the footpath.

Melbourne Airport

Seriously Melbourne, get a new airport. Yours is terrible. No wonder it got named the worst major airport in Australia.

Welcome to the Masterplan

Welcome to the Masterplan – a place for me to enjoy writing. On this blog you will find my thoughts and opinions on topics including current affairs, music, movies and sport.

Likely content will include movie, album and gig reviews and opinion and commentary on sport and current affairs.

EDIT – July 2013: website renamed to rageandenthusiasm.com