Paul McCartney leaves Vancouver's Beatles fans with little to complain about

At B.C. Place on Sunday, November 25

Pretty well all of the world’s biggest pop and rock acts have played Vancouver since the '60s. The Rolling Stones, the Who, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, U2, Guns N’ Roses—our city has played host to all of them over the last four decades or so. The only huge name that hadn’t made it here since the decade of discontent, it seems, was Paul McCartney.

That all changed last night, of course.

For the first time since the Beatles played Empire Stadium in August of ’64, McCartney’s violin-shaped Hofner bass was visible to the hordes of Vancouverites who’d followed every moment of the music legend’s life since the Fab Four released “Love Me Do” back in ’62.

To make things even more special, rumours were rampant that Springsteen himself was going to fly in in advance of his show at Rogers Arena tonight (November 26) so he and his pal could finish the set they started in London’s Hyde Park last July before being silenced by plug-pulling authorities who forgot that curfews don’t count when it comes to the Beatle ‘n’ the Boss.

As it turned out, though, Springsteen was a no-show—damn those rumour-mongers!—but it didn’t matter all that much. What the concert lacked in additional star power it more than made up for with additional song power. During his marathon three-hour set McCartney performed no fewer than 38 songs, the majority stone-cold Beatles classics.

And you know that can’t be bad.

The Beatles tunes chosen tended, obviously, towards the ones McCartney sang lead on and/or had the main role in composing, the universal “Lennon-McCartney” songwriting credit notwithstanding. But he didn’t forget his old bandmates, inserting a snippet of John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” into “A Day in the Life”, and pulling out the ukulele George Harrison once gave him for a version of the latter’s beloved Abbey Road hit, “Something”. There was no mention at all of Ringo Starr, although the famously affable drummer’s happy-go-lucky spirit was felt in the positive vibes put out by McCartney’s ace skin-basher, Abe Laboriel Jr.

The most “McCartneyish” Beatles numbers were the ballads he performed solo on acoustic guitar, including “Blackbird”, “And I Love Her”, and, of course, “Yesterday”, which kicked off his second encore, and was followed by the Wings hit “Mull of Kintyre”, which featured an appearance by the Delta Police Pipe Band. The evening’s other Wings songs were “Band on the Run”, “Jet”, “Junior’s Farm”, “Mrs. Vandebilt”, “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five”, “Live and Let Die” (which boasted stunning pyrotechnics), and “Let Me Roll It” (which included a few bars of Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady”). Conspicuous by their absence were any songs from Wings’ follow-up to Band on the Run, Venus and Mars.

Besides Laboriel, McCartney’s touring band includes keyboardist Paul Wickens and guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray, all of whom provided plenty of strong backing vocals. The big concern of the night was whether or not the 70-year-old frontman’s singing would be up to snuff, but for the most part it was. There were definitely moments that it lagged—McCartney shook his head, displeased, when his harmonies on “Paperback Writer” swerved out of tune—but he was still hangin’ in there near the finale when the raging “Helter Skelter” called for everything he had.

By the time the show ended, aptly, with Abbey Road’s “The End”, there wasn’t a lot any true-blue Beatles fan could complain about.

You can follow Steve Newton on Twitter at twitter.com/earofnewt.

Comments (24) Add New Comment
Eastendian
The most fabulous show I've ever seen!
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Rating: -12
Gary Mondoux
Wow!!! is the only way to describe it 3 hours of roking entertainment
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Rating: -3
Gordon
I was there and even though "Bruce Springsteen" was no show, there is no complaint. Paul put on a 3 hour show. My money was well spent.
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Rating: -15
TJ Prente
I have a been a fan since the age of 8, that's four decades of his music basically playing as the soundtrack of my entire life. So incredibly happy to have been there. All my loving...
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Rating: +7
greggron
I remember 35 years ago learning to play "Yesterday" on clarinet in Grade 6 - such a haunting song. Then last night seeing an actual Beatle - the one who wrote it perform it - unreal.
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Rating: +23
R U Kiddingme
I'm not surprised he left out Jenny Wren or Ever Present Past (two of my faves) but was slightly disappointed that for totally understandable reasons he went with his tried and true hits because I don't think most music fans -- certainly not me until recently -- realized that McCartney has had an unbelievable late-late-late revival of songwriting prowess. His newest albums are solid.

As for the Boss no-show, that was ok. I kinda was hoping that Elvis Costello, who lives here part time, might show up to duet on their collaborations like My Brave Face or So Like Candy.

All that is nitpicky. I had no idea that Paul could still bring it at age 69. Excellent playing, mostly excellent singing, tons of energy, and of course all those pop-culture icon hits. What a great evening of music.

Bonus kudos to BC Place. It used to be a bad venue for concerts, sheer mud and reverb. However between this and The Wall it has to be admitted that for arena rock, the sound system is decent even in the nosebleeds.
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Rating: +19
Steve Newton
McCartney turned 70 last June my friend
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Rating: -18
Todd Wong
Great concert - a bit hard to see him from the back of the floor - because everybody was standing all night - but we were prepared for that and the side screens were great! Little kids were standing on their chairs.

Biggest surprise was Mull of Kintyre with the Delta Police Pipe Band... Macca introduced the song by saying he had relatives attending the concert, and he'd hear it from them if he didn't play this song.

The set list even included My Valentine, from his newest album 2012's Kisses on the Bottom (produced by Vancouver area resident Diana Krall) and also Sing the Changes from the 2008 The Fireman album.

No he didn't play anything from Venus and Mars, but nothing either from Speed of Sound, Ram, Off the Ground, London Town, Chaos and Creation, nor lots of other albums. It just goes to prove the depth of McCartney's musical catalogue - whether Beatles, Wings or solo work.
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Rating: +2
Hoolio
This show was nothing short of brilliant! I can't figure out how Bruce Springsteen even got into this article! Dah!
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Rating: +1
Jimmy
Can't believe I saw a "Beatle"....
Bloody fantastic show.
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Rating: +13
Daryl K
Truly spectacular show - Paul showed why he is an icon and adored by many. After over 50 years of performing it is amazing to see a guy so passionate about performing and loving every minute. We adored him but he gave back even more. Saw him a few years ago at the Hollywood Bowl (yes he opened with Rock Show for you missing a song from Venus and Mars) and last night he was more engaging and chatty than the LA show. He was truly happy to be here. Yes so his voice was off in spots, but at 70 playing for 30 mins you tell me if you didn't have chills down your spine when he was belting out Helter Skelter or any of his ballads. Sir Paul keep going!
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Rating: +6
Carolens
Unbelievable - best of the best.. Having been outside the stadium with a group from Gladstone in the '60s (couldn't afford tickets) when it was cut short and listening to all that screaming & bodies running everywhere to be at this one and to take in a fantastic performance of Paul and his absolutely magnificent back-up guys (wow to them too - couldn't have picked better musicians & personalities), the stellar light displays, our own Delta Police Band - any future bad times can be reversed by musing & bringing back this memory! My crush still exists!
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Rating: +10
diane scott
wow, absolutely amazing....loved every minute..the very best concert i have ever seen, and there has been quit a few.....
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Rating: +28
Yo Kunyan
It was just unreal !!

I learned English from Beatles. Not from "Hello goodbye" but from "Yesterday" . This song was in the English text book when I was in junior high school in Japan. Did I imagine 39 years ago that I would ever see him in future ? It is my origin brought me to Canada. It was just amazing to hear him sing this song.

During the 2nd encore, I almost thought this show would last forever ! But I finally realized when he talked about "going home", I had to go home. We all had to go home. When he was singing Golden Slumber, I was begging to him like I did to my sweetheart in the past, " Oh, please don't go please ! I want to be with you much much longer ! " He stole my heart completely that night !
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Rating: +5
Macca fan
I had the opportunity to see his two concerts in Seattle years ago and then last night. Unbelievable shows, to think the man is 70 and still has an incredible voice along with class is more than i can say about half the artist singing out there now. My bucket list was completed when i saw him arrive around 5:30 for his sound check, he looked right at me and said Hello along with a hand wave. Classy gentleman. Thank you Paul.
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Rating: +7
Photopaul
The most epic concert I've ever seen! And I've seen em all several times...U2, The Stones, Bryan Adams, Grateful Dead, The Who, Prince, Dylan, Cohen, the list goes on. A breath of fresh air in a land of Justin Biebers and Nickelbacks. I can't imagine I'll see a better concert for the rest of my life. I wouldn't have imagined that Yesterday would be the song that haunts me the most but it was magical when he played it. I've been humming his tunes all day today. I can't believe he's 71! He didn't even appear tired at the end of the show. One for the Vancouver history books!
I was 12th row on the floor with tix I bought at cost through SH a week earlier. Snuck my camera in.
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Rating: -15
Robert in Toronto
No disrespect to Springsteen but he'd be more of a distraction had he shown up- c'mon guys, it's The Beatles- you can't even put Springsteen in the parking lot of that league. Anyways, no other concert experience ranks with Macca- sends shivers up the spine- the songs, the guy, the history- The dude is an icon, truly.
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Rating: -8
Pat Crowe
I've got to say his new songs were very strong. The sound was astonishingly impeccable. His vocal mix was cleaner than Bruce's the next night in a far smaller room. There was a lot of emotion in the materiel, it was like an "oh my god" moment over and over. I don't think any band can beat his backlog.
This one ranks in the top five of my all time shows now.
It was a lot better than I expected it to be. And my expectations were high.
Now if only Led Zepplin would come and the bucket list would be complete.
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Rating: -17
MG Stevens
A bucket list item to be sure. Most professional show I've ever experienced. Then, you think that he has done this for over 50 years at the very top of the industry and what else could it have been. Killer band. Almost every second a highlight. Totally stoked I could have been a part of that event. And impeccable sound. The whole experience, almost too much for words... Worth the near thousand bucks it cost me to be there, and that's saying a lot.
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Rating: -3
Ralph
one Beatle was awesome, what IF there were four? AWESOME x 4!
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Rating: +2

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