Happy Birthday 70th Birthday Paul McCartney
In honor of Paul McCartney’s birthday today, I’m reprinting my 2009 review of his unforgettable 2009 concert at Tulsa’s BOK Center. One of the best and most memorable concert experiences I’ve had. No other living musician’s work has had a greater impact on my life.
Paul McCartney at the BOK Center Monday. (Photo by Tom Gilbert, Tulsa World)
Paul McCartney does not sell out stadiums simply because he’s Paul McCartney. Sure, he could roll out a little over an hour’s worth of effort and generations of fans would be perfectly happy hearing a handful of Beatles classics and standout solo hits from his 50-year career, then go home and tell their friends and family that they had a nice, pleasant time with a legend. Instead, McCartney put his seemingly endless reservoir of energy to work ensuring that no one will forget the three hours they spent with him Monday night at Tulsa’s BOK Center, a concert that celebrated the venue’s first anniversary.
Beginning with “Drive My Car,” McCartney tirelessly powered through 34 songs with Beatles classics outnumbering solo tracks roughly two to one, but he delivered all his songs at full-tilt energy, whether it was last year’s “Highway” or “Eleanor Rigby” from 43 years ago. After recalling his recent driving tour of Route 66, which took him through Oklahoma, he paused in front of the 20,000-strong crowd “to take a moment to drink it all in.” Then, as he performed “The Long and Winding Road,” photos taken on “the mother road” flashed on the fiber-optic screen behind his band.
McCartney filled the set with historical grace notes, talking about how he wrote “Blackbird” during the Civil Rights Movement, “imagining a black girl going through all that,” and offering poignant tributes to his late wife Linda (“My Love” from 1972′s “Red Rose Speedway”) and fellow Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison. He began Harrison’s “Something” on ukelele, an instrument both men loved, then expandedthe song to its full “Abbey Road” arrangement as rare photos of Harrison flashed on the screen. When he played Lennon’s “A Day in the Life,” he effortlessly segued into his former songwriting partner’s protest hit, “Give Peace a Chance.”
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