When I was fifteen Pearl Jam and Pink Floyd visited Miami the same week. They were both on school nights and my Mom would only let me go to one show. I went to see Pearl Jam and I’m still kicking myself over that boneheaded decision.
But I always had misgivings of seeing my classic rock heroes perform live. Lineup changes, higher ticket prices or maybe the ageist in me causes this lack of excitement, because whenever I give in I find myself thoroughly entertained. Chuck Berry shook the stage. Dick Dale had veryone dancing in the aisles. The Moody Blues… ok they weren’t that exciting.
Now Paul McCartney was playing the Hollywood Bowl and I scored myself free admission. But still I wasn’t in convulsions. The Beatles are the greatest band of all time, but John and George were long gone and I wasn’t overly excited to hear Paul’s solo stuff. He was always my least favorite Beatle with his otherworldly earnestness. I remembered seeing footage of an interview from their first trip to America. Paul was answering a question while John kept flicking Paul’s ear. Paul stopped the interview for a second and told John to cut it out. John kept flicking his ear anyway and Paul kept answering the question. But who can turn down free?
It was a chilly March evening high up in the last row of the Bowl. I didn’t have my glasses but the giant screen and the great acoustics made it seem like I was seeing Paul live. This was the first time he had played the Hollywood Bowl since he came with the Beatles. He promised we were going to have a party.
The beginnings were filled with dry solo stuff and a couple slower Beatles songs like the Long And Winding Road and Elanor Rigby. He kept switching between his guitar and his piano. but when he brought out his uke, the tone changed. He dedicated “Something” to George Harrison and played a solo rendition of it which midway through the chorus his full band started rocking out to. Then the party did start. Back In The USSR. Ticket To Ride. I’ve Got A Feeling. Get Back.
Paperback Writer brought out a nut in a Grateful Dead shirt who did a skiffle up and down the stairs. He must have practiced on his Stairmaster. When he finished his dance for us he went up to the next section.
Live And Let Die had the fireworks shooting off. Hey Jude had the whole crowd singing for twenty minutes that then went into a chant of “All We Are Singing Is Give Peace A Chance”. Blackbird. Let It Be. Yesterday. He came out for one encore and he rocked out Helter Skelter. The crowd went crazy for this sixtyseven year old man who had nothing left to prove, proved it anyway. When he blistered out that last note of Helter Skelter he reminded us, “I told you we were going to have a party”.
He came out for that last encore around eleven o’clock. “Sorry guys we have to go home. And so do you.’ He blasted out Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band which evolved into the final medley from Abbey Road. “And in the end the love you make is equal to the love you take.” Everyone in the crowd was hoarse from singing along for over two and a half hours, but found the spirit to yelp out those final words. And on the way out we had enough voice to keep singing away from the venue.