My Magical Mystery Tour through the North Country began on 7.23.11 at the refurbished Chateaugay Town Hall for a standing-room only concert with the Ladies of the Canyon. I had no idea who these Canyon Ladies were but my $12.00 ticket had already been bought, so I had to show. After the silent auction in the Town Supervisor’s office/lobby area, we took our VIP seats, front center. Me and the person I was with were the only two people under 60 in the entire auditorium, so I was a bit surprised when four women in their 20’s, in jean shorts that went reeeaaallllll high and 5-inch heels, took the stage, and began playing blue grass music.
Of course they paid homage to Amy Winehouse, and played a tearful rendition of some mediocre song in her memory, then called her our generation’s Janis Joplin. Huh? They attempted to play the Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” then took an intermission, and I exited auditorium left. When everyone else got home, it was reported that the Canyon Ladies did not get paid, because they are from Canada and they were afraid to carry the American money across ($2,000), so they basically did the show for nothing. At least somebody got their money’s worth.
Four days later I was in Montreal, ready to rock with Paul McCartney at the Centre Bell. That’s The Bell Center to you Americans (adjective before noun in Mon-re-al). We spent the day walking around Montreal, which was boring as always, then got some dinner, then headed to the concert. Our seats were the first row of the 2nd level, center stage ($250.00 per). As was the case with the last concert I attended, where ironically we sat in the same place (DMB, TU Center), a man who was at the concert by himself sat next to me. His name was Julian (Like John's son) and he was from Ottawa. I asked him every question I could think of about Canadians' views on Americans, and yes, I did come off as the big dumb American, I am sure.
The concert started and Paul took the stage in a red, leather coat, circa 1970, and he looked amazing. After a three minute standing ovation, he got down to business, and what followed is something I will never forget. This 69-year-old rock n’ roll god played a raging 3 hour set without stopping, without taking a sip of water. He ripped through 35 songs and 2 encores, and every, single track was better than the last. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.
There were no “concert tricks,” for instance long jam outs while the lead singer slips to the side of the stage for a break. Nope. The spotlight went on him at 8.38PM and didn’t come off him until 11.25PM. Actually, it was the band who took two breaks, while Sir. Paul played solo. He was a rocket jet on that stage, he was a 19 yr old in suspenders and Converse sneakers. It was the greatest thing I have ever seen. It was the 2nd night of a 2 night bill in Montreal.
If God is really one of us, God might be Paul McCartney. Who has lived a life like him? What hasn’t he experienced and lived to tell about? The stories he told us about meeting Russian heads of state and hanging out with US Presidents, amazing. While he played, the back screen ran those old, grainy, black-and-white Beatles clips that everyone always sees. You know, them at the airport with a thousand fans screaming, them on Ed Sullivan, etc, etc, and the whole time I’m thinking: That’s actually him, 500 feet away from me. In music, it really is McCartney and everybody else. From "Jet" song #3 until the end of the night, I was on my feet and screaming every, single lyric, and I don't do that. This from a guy who fell asleep at Tom Petty.
Whenever I am at a concert, I have fun, but there’s always a small part of me that kind of, sort of wants it to end so I can get out of there, go eat, etc. At this concert, I never, ever wanted it to end. McCartney is the biggest rock star in the world, and if you think he doesn’t rock hard enough for 20 year olds, I wish you could’ve seen the gaggles of young girls at this show, screaming the lyrics to every single song. And don’t forget my French-Canadian friend, Julian, who rocked out like it was game 7 of the NHL Finals. My favorite? "Nineteen Hundred & Eighty-Five." That piano work just took the whole arena up and down like a light switch, how it's slow then speeds up again. Awesome.
A few times McCartney mentioned John Lennon in glowing terms, literally making the crowd stand and applaud for Lennon. It felt a bit artificial, almost like he was guilty about continuing to thrive and make millions off “their” music. And it made me realize something. Although Paul has sold more albums than Lennon, made more great songs, had a longer run, and made more money than Lennon (perhaps more money than anybody in music history), and, oh, he's still alive, he will forever be #2 in his own band, Scottie Pippen to the finish. Even though his resume and longevity are both superior to Lennon's (perhaps superior to anybody in music history), he will never be Lennon and he never wrote "Imagine." But in every other way he has been more. So "Imagine" if Scottie Pippen ACTUALLY had a better career than Jordan. "It's easy if you try." McCartney also paid homage to George Harrison and played a killer version of “Something.” There were 34,000 people in that place and not a single person moved one second before the final note of the final song. And in the end, he fittingly played “The End,” the 3rd piece of “Golden Slumbers” and “Carry the Weight.”
He sang for 3 hours without breaking a sweat, all over the stage, between the piano and 20 different guitars, and it was, without doubt, the 3rd best night of my life. I won’t tell you what the other two were, but one of those nights centers around A Giant Win in Glendale, Arizona.
I include below McCartney’s song list from 7.27, a review of the concert, a picture, and an audio clip live from the show. If you listen real close you can hear me, at 36seconds in, saying “Now” to the person taking the film, because I thought she was taking a picture. I also include a video of the Ladies of the Canyon. Enjoy.
Concert Review: http://blogs.montrealgazette.com/2011/07/28/paul-mccartney-at-the-bell-centre-night-two-july-27-2011/
Concert Set List: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/paul-mccartney/2011/centre-bell-montreal-qc-canada-43d0a75b.html
Ladies of the Canyon Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyR24LydfX0