By April Brooks-Dresman
“Love, Love Me Do”, yes Sir Paul, we do love you! At age 77, the Sir Paul McCartney Experience has aged like the finest whiskey– oh so velvety smooth, mellow with a hint of heat and gives a good ole fashioned a*# kickin the longer you imbibe. Paul McCartney truly embodies the terms: musician, artist, multi talented, star, legend and the title, Sir.
Petco Park could not do this legend justice. I’ve never been to Petco, so I was initially impressed when we arrived and found the grand new structure melded to the old existing buildings of downtown. To my dismay and that of thousands of others arriving early to the show, it was jam packed with a miles long security entrance line serpentining like Axl Rose around the city. Once inside and up to the top, the views of the city and the bay are impressive. You are at no loss to find a fine restaurant, bar, craft drink or the usual ball stadium fare.
At first it appears that every seat is decent, until you actually sit and realize you are forced to sit at an angle, facing the home plate, the opposite direction of the concert stage. This place was built to be a baseball stadium, not a concert venue. Your seat is set at about a 45 degree angle confining your legs, in our case to the left, unable to move in the opposite direction or even to the middle without torquing your back. Further, the spacing between rows is tighter than a slot cave crevice and you need the cloven hooves of a mountain goat to navigate their steep slope. Standing or dancing was out of the question. It is no easy task getting up and down, trying to exit over everyone in your row or finding relief from sitting the wrong way, wrenching your torso to see the stage for over three hours. The back pain and leg pain that ensued left me cursing the designer of this seating all night.
But by far the worst thing about Petco for concert going is the horrendous echo that travels around the park rendering the artist’s speech and any slow or acoustic songs sounding like the neighborhood ice cream truck playing garbled hurdy gurdy music.
Now Paul McCartney holds the title the best concert I have seen in my nearly 40 years of concert going, so I looked forward to another and have been informing my husband for years this will be the best concert he has ever seen. As Sir Paul opened, I thought: oh hell no! Why does it sound so bad? It took the first two songs for the sound booth to make the appropriate adjustments for the songs to be recognizable. Finally, the third song: “Can’t Buy Me Love” came through sounding mostly as it should and the magic began to unfold. Phew!
Not only is this band simply stellar, they are a delight to watch, each member a stand out personality and incredible musician. You can see and hear that they’ve played together for a very long time. The three piece horn section and their perfectly synchronized steps, the very animated, facially expressive and dancing drummer, two amazing guitarists/vocalists, an incredible keyboardist and of course, Paul, on bass and piano are perfection together. They performed a repertoire of Paul’s long career to perfection. Part way through the show, Paul (and his Petco echo) informed us that we know which songs you like- our oldies, because a sea of twinkling lights appear while there are none when we play new songs from Egypt Station. He playfully added, but we don’t care, we’re going to play the new ones anyway. The stadium lit up like a galaxy when they played the next new song. San Diego knows how to respect royalty.
Sir Paul and his band delivered a 3 1/2 hour perfect cocktail of 32 songs plus 6 Beatles encore songs– a mix from the new album Egypt Station, expected classics from The Beatles and Wings, interspersed with his personal and Beatles’ stories, funny gestures, dances by band members, audience participation, colorful flags and an incredible light show. The show ramped up to a seeming finale of “Live and Let Die” with a bang of sound, fireworks and lights. Was it over? It could have been. But no, “Hey Jude” came next. They said goodbye and then returned for 6 more encore songs including “Helter Skelter”, again with incredible rocking sound and energy, no evidence of them wanting to end this 3 plus hour show with no break, an outrageous light show and big screen images to rival any Rave. The show ended with many thank you’s and the Beatles’: “Golden Slumbers”/”Carry that Weight”/“The End”– A perfect finish.
Fine whiskey is fine whiskey, no matter the glass you serve it in. Despite Petco Park’s faults as a concert venue this true master delivers an experience of a lifetime– perfectly aged, mellow, smooth, with a bit of heat and a good ole fashioned rock and roll a#* kickin at the end from everyone’s favorite Sir, the legend, Paul McCartney, and his Band.