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.
A Hard Day’s Night
Can’t Buy Me Love
All My Loving
Let Me Roll It
I’ve Got a Feeling
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
I Wanna Be Your Man
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
A Day in the Life / Give Peace a Chance
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Mull of Kintyre
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
Carry That Weight