Review + Photos + Setlist: Paul McCartney Defies Age at the Sprint Center, Kansas City, Saturday, July 24
Among other things, the members of the Beatles have taught us that we should never take them for granted. While their (relatively) brief time as being part of the world's biggest band cemented them as musical untouchables, as human beings John, Paul, George and Ringo are (or were) entirely fallible.
That's why a Paul McCartney tour is a must-attend event. Macca doesn't tour very often -- this year's "Up And Coming Tour" is his biggest North American tour since 2005 - and there's no logic to when he does decide to go on the road. But he certainly gives audiences their money's worth: On Saturday night at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Macca roared through over two-and-a-half hours of music.
The 68-year-old switched between acoustic guitar, electric guitar and piano, although he strapped on a mandolin for the levity-introducing "Dance Tonight" and also played the ukulele. Unsurprisingly, the piano tunes - and "Lady Madonna" and "Let It Be" in particular - were highlights. During "Live and Let Die" he even borrowed some metal moves: As the song built to the racing chorus, a jaw-dropping wall of flames shot up in front of the band - followed soon after by sparking fireworks. McCartney was moved to stand up while banging on the keys as the song neared its conclusion.
Now, at this point in his career, McCartney could craft a neat, hits-laden Beatles/Wings revue and send everyone home happy. And while the setlist contained plenty of familiar tunes, it wasn't safe. "Highway," a introduced as "a song by my alter-ego" - a.k.a. the electronic-driven The Fireman - was a funky, bluesy romp, like the Rolling Stones covering Talking Heads. Wings' "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five" was a jaunty, piano-driven highlight; the marching Wings at the Speed of Sound single "Let Em In" faded down as in the studio version and then finished with a loud crash. And the Beatles' brisk folk strums "I've Just Seen a Face" and "Blackbird" were as delicate as calligraphy.
McCartney was in jovial spirits all night; in fact, it was a delight watching how much joy he derived from performing and interacting with his band. (Drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr., who was always dancing or mugging playfully with McCartney, was a particularly amusing comic foil.) Macca's band seemed just as thrilled to be there: Guitarist Rusty Anderson and guitarist/bassist Brian Ray were consummate professionals who constantly grinned and hopped around the stage, like two kids let loose in a candy store.