Scene and Heard

McCartney hits a Home Run at Great American Ballpark

Posted in Entertainment by sceneandheardblog on August 6, 2011

Paul McCartney at Great American Ballpark

Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark is a perfect place for a left hander. It was  built with the thought that one of baseball’s great left hand hitters, Ken Griffey Jr.  may someday break the home run record there.

So it was only fitting that on Thursday evening The Great American Ballpark hosted music’s greatest left hander, Paul McCartney, (Jimi Hendrix’s fans may disagree) to the first concert event in the park’s history.

The sold out audience was awarded with a night of perfection. The weather was beautiful, and the staff at Great American could not have been more organized or accommodating. It was obvious they too were enjoying the exciting atmosphere as much as the  fans who had gathered to see the former Beatle make his first visit to Cincinnati since 1993 when “The New World Tour” played Riverfront Stadium eighteen years ago.

Having been a solo act for forty one years now, there is nothing like a McCartney show. He is a perfectionist whose sound check is like a another show as every instrument, light and sound is tested to insure ultimate sound quality.

The audience mix is different from other concerts. There are people of all ages, gender and musical tastes filled with excitement and anticipation to see the McCartney the legend. The man who with his three Beatle band mates created the rock star phenomenon.

McCartney is a master of music and a brilliant performer. He walked onto the stage around 8:15 wearing a red sport jacket and Beatle boots, and waving to the crowd.

The moment had arrived,an the arena was filled was a rush of excitement and screams of joy.  With his “Hello Cincinnati” and a mention of his red attire in honor of the home of the Reds the show began. He opened  with “Hello/Goodbye” and the journey through his massive catalogue of Beatle, Wings, and individual songs that the entire world has grown up listening and singing regardless of age, provided an evening of nostalgia and musical excellence.

At sixty nine years old, McCartney has aged gracefully. He still has  great energy, a strong voice and good looks. Maybe there is something to his vegetarian diet or the fact that he has amassed millions of dollars since his early twenties.

He plays non stop for nearly three hours without even a drink of water. He comments on the subject in his tour program,  “It goes back to the past. Could you ever imagine Elvis or the Beatles stopping mid show? The school we come from just gets on, plays  and gets off.

Having seen many of his shows throughout the years, McCartney seems to enjoy his shows and interacting with his audience more than in the past. His commentary between songs was both interesting and witty.

After the song “Ms. Vanderbilt”, he mentioned, “It was fun to see the crowd in Hungary dancing to the chorus and it was voted  the number one Paul McCartney song in that country.”

He joked with his fans about the signs they bring to his shows,when he said, “ I have to decide should I read them or not.” He mentioned one show where a female fan held up a sign asking him to sign her butt. “Well lets have a look at it” he joked.

When he finished playing “Blackbird”, he told of how the chords to the song came about saying, “George and I were trying to play a song by J.S.Bach and ended up with the chords to this song”.

The performance was full of highlights featuring rarely played Beatle songs, “Helter Skelter”, “I Got A Feeling”, “I Will” and “A Day in the Life” to name a few.

He dedicated songs to his late bandmates,  “Here Today”  a tribute to John Lennon  and playing “Something” on the ukulele that was given to him by George Harrison while a video of Harrison played on the video screen creating a perfect illustration of a deep friendship.

The real fun was observing the audience when he played , “Hey Jude”, “Let it Be“,Get Back” and other classic songs, men in their late sixties were waving the peace sign, teenagers arm in arm, joined together singing and dancing to the music. Watching the joy on people’s faces as they recognized the beginning notes of each song provided as much entertainment as the music itself.

The stage added to the show with its stunning lights, and large video screen complete with amazing video choreography to each song. Many times I found myself watching the screens instead of the actually band.

As I walked around the ballpark at field level and the first sections of the concourse the sound was excellent. I can’t speak for the upper levels, but I was quite impressed with the ballpark’s acoustics.

McCartney has assembled an excellent band of musicians.  Brian Ray and Rusty Anderson  shared solos on guitars perfectly duplicating and expanding on every song.

Drummer, Abe Laboriel Jr., was a rhythmic wizard and also added his amazing backup vocals to many of the songs. This band has musically supported McCartney since 2002.

Keyboardist, Paul Wickens is a longtime band member playing with McCartney since 1989.

If you close your eyes and listen to these guys you would not know it’s not the Beatles or Wings playing with McCartney.

The show consisted of 35 songs. Which included two triple song encores. Finishing with the song of the night “Golden Slumbers”. The setlist was possibly the best I have ever seen, but with a catalogue like McCartney’s you could do a three day show and still not play all his hits.

This show ended the “On The Run Tour” for the U.S. It began what should be a new era for The Great American Ballpark. The facility and its organizers have to be pleased with the results of this show.

As for Paul McCartney, his energy and popularity should allow him to tour into his seventies if he so chooses. Based on his performance on this tour, I forecast that it will happen. However, if I were you, I would jump on a ticket to his next show. Like fine wine, this guy gets better with age.

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney

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