A few moments after Paul McCartney took the stage Thursday night and tore right into “Eight Days a Week,” he paused, looking around at a packed EnergySolutions Arena, and said, “I have a feeling we’re going to have a bit of a party here tonight.”
This is Sir Paul’s third visit to the Beehive State, and, at 72, traveling the world for his “Out There” tour, he still has a spring in his step and a light in his eyes when he sings his songs to an adoring crowd.
After he landed in a Tokyo hospital in May with a virus, which led to several postponed or canceled shows, one might have wondered if the legend would have it in him for another go-around. Thursday’s show proved he’s timeless — as is his vitality.
Sure, he sang around some of his high notes, but at this point, it’s all the more endearing. Plus his wry sense of humor and dazzling musicality — whether at the piano, his signature Hofner bass or an electric guitar — prove he has yet to miss a beat.
His set drew heavily from the Fab Four's catalog as he played songs that shaped the soundtrack of the lives of many in the audience. But the crowd wasn’t made up of just baby boomers — every generation had a strong showing. People obviously viewed the evening as the opportunity of a lifetime to see the legend and take part in the marathon 40-song, nearly 3-hour set that tipped its hat to some of the greatest musical moments of the past 50 years.
It was downright moving.
A highlight was “Blackbird,” in which McCartney’s acoustic guitar purred as he stood on a rising platform.
“How many of you have tried to learn this one on the guitar?” he asked the audience after he finished the number. When the whole arena seemed to scream in response, he laughed and said, “How cool does that make me feel?”
The evening was also sprinkled with songs from his “Wings” days as well as music from his 2013 album “New.”
Probably the most moving moment of the evening was McCartney’s tribute to fellow Beatle George Harrison. Alone on the stage with a ukulele, he sang a raw and stirring rendition of Harrison’s “Something in the Way She Moves” while old photos of his friend filled the screens behind him.
“Live and Let Die” was also memorable with a spectacle of fireworks and bursting flames that brought the house to its feet and proved McCartney can still rock.
“I’ve Just Seen a Face,” “Let It Be,” “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and “Hey Jude” seemed to bring out the most camera phones. During a second encore, McCartney went solo with his acoustic for a gorgeous “Yesterday” that caused those exiting the arena to stop dead in their tracks.
Throughout the evening, McCartney dedicated songs to bandmates, family, activists, reformers and events that changed history.
Those lucky enough to be at McCartney’s concert likely felt they experienced a little piece of history as well.