Paul McCartney goes One on One with a power packed show spanning the course of his storied fifty plus year career.
With a sold-out crowd of 11,500, the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth, Ga is arguably one of the more intimate stops on this leg of Paul McCartney‘s One On One Tour. A quick scan of the crowd shows people who were clearly in on the ground floor of Beatlemania and those born after the fact but are no less enthusiastic, casual fans here for their first McCartney show and the ardent fans who never miss a tour, as well as the requisite group in Sgt. Pepper costumes.
What ensues is a marathon set that reaches back to where it all began with “In Spite of All the Danger”, the first song recorded by The Quarrymen. Fast forward nearly sixty years later to “FourFiveSeconds”, a recent collaboration between McCartney, Rihanna, and Kanye West, complete with words on the screen behind the stage, ‘so you can sing along.’ With such an extensive body of work to draw from, McCartney narrows the rest of the set list down to a mere 39 songs drawing from his work with The Beatles, Wings and his own solo career.
After opening the show with “A Hard Day’s Night”, Paul has the lights turned up so he can survey the audience and predicts, ‘We’re going to have some fun in this room tonight.’ He jumps right into a string of songs that have everyone on their feet including the guitar heavy “Let Me Roll It” and “Letting Go” from Wings, and “I’ve Got a Feeling” from Let It Be. Taking his place at the grand piano Paul dedicates the beautiful ballad, “My Valentine” to his wife Nancy and plays what is perhaps the ultimate love song, “Maybe I’m Amazed”, written for his late wife Linda.
Things take an intimate turn when a set of screens are brought mid-stage in effect creating the illusion of the band being in the home studio where The Quarrymen recorded their first records. It’s the perfect setting for the band to perform songs from the early days of the Fab Four including the Meet The Beatles classic “Love Me Do”, which Paul dedicates to legendary Beatles record producer, ‘the late, great, George Martin, without whom there would be no Beatles.’
McCartney takes a turn at his classic psychedelic upright piano for a jaunty group of songs including “Queenie Eye” and “New” from his most recent album, as well as Beatles classics “Fool on the Hill” and “Lady Madonna”. It is the perfect blend of old and new. Another string of favorites, “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da”, “Band on the Run”, and “Back in the USSR” become massive sing-alongs with the band leaving it to the crowd to do the singing at points. There is something about this music that makes you want to sing at the top of your lungs, and when an entire arena is doing the same, it makes for a powerful experience.
Among the most poignant moments of the night are when Paul dedicates songs to his friends and bandmates John Lennon and George Harrison. He discusses the story of “Here Today”, written after John Lennon was killed, ‘in the form of a conversation we never had.’ He is alone with his guitar atop a towering platform, high above the stage, somehow making the audience a fly on the wall for this imaginary yet bittersweet moment between two friends. “Something” begins with just Paul playing the ukulele given to him by George. When the full band joins in and the screens light up with a slide show of photos depicting these two friends together, it’s heart grabbing in a way that allows everyone in the room to be part of this tribute. In a show full of highlights, these are definite stand outs.
The main set closes with Paul once again at the piano for “Let It Be,” “Live and Let Die” complete with deafening explosions and fiery effects, and the show stopping “Hey Jude”. This is followed by a seven-song encore that begins with the simple but stunning “Yesterday” and concludes with the final songs from Abbey Road, “Golden Slumbers”, “Carry That Weight”, and the apt “The End”. Is there a more perfect way to end a stunning performance than leaving your audience with ‘the love you take is equal to the love you make’?
McCartney has an effortless way of taking the audience with him as he travels through his musical history. He tells stories about his songs and experiences, he has a sparkle in his eye and a manner that easily engages the crowd. He interacts with everyone in the arena to the extent he can, including those seated around the side of the stage and up top. It is easy to forget that he is 75 years old, even after 39 songs in nearly three hours. None of this would be possible without his long-time band comprised of Rusty Anderson, Brian Ray, Paul “Wix” Wickens and Abe Laboriel, Jr. They ably fill some very big shoes in a way that allows Paul to perform to his strengths. They offer full and beautiful harmonies that support Paul’s own vocals to great effect. McCartney and his band are the perfect complement to each other. It is no wonder Paul McCartney shows no sign of slowing down.
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Event Date: 13-JUL-2017