Last summer, in the name of rock n’ roll, my mom and I jumped in the car and went to Quebec City to see the free Paul McCartney show at the Plains of Abraham.
Arriving at the Plains, people as far as the eye could see, I could see that mom’s Andre Dawson-esque knees weren’t doing her well. As much as I wanted to stay, it was impossible.
One sprained knee and one disappointed son later, we’re driving back to Montreal. Zooming along the highway, mom makes a promise. “If he tours again, anywhere in the world, we’re there” she said, adding one major caveat. “As long as there are seats.”
It was a deal. I heard on the news that McCartney was playing Halifax this summer. I checked the dates on the tour, and got two tickets to see Paul with my mom in August in Boston.
At Fenway Park.
I’ve seen two Sox games at Fenway, and the Stones a few years back. It’s a magical place, so rich in history. It’s also the closest ballpark to Montreal. Look it up on Google; in no traffic you can get to Fenway about 20 minutes earlier than if you’re driving to Skydome. Parents, take your kids. Just don’t let them grow up to be Red Sox fans.
I knew we had good seats, but only when we got in to the park did I realize just how special the day would be. We were in the 15th row, which placed the seats in left center field…
I was a kid in a candy store. With hours to spare before the show, I wandered every piece of the field that I could get to…Touched the Green Monster, hugged Pesky’s Pole, I even scooped some dirt from the fair territory down the left field line and from the warning track by the bullpen. The entire field was covered with some sort of hard plastic, leaving my desire to swipe a few blades of grass nearly impossible. That is until a sympathetic security guard by the soundboard (the one part of the field that was still exposed) told me to pretend like I was tying my shoe and to not take too much.
I finally took my seat for the opening act, the band du jour from Brooklyn, MGMT. Talk about a tough gig. Sure, their music was good, but how do you not stare at your watch the whole time when you know that with the hour you’ll be hearing Beatles songs?
So MGMT ended, and after about 15 minutes, Paul and his band just walked on stage, pick up their instruments, and bust into Drive My Car. No explosions, no flashy lights. From the get go, he let the music speak for itself.
And so it went. Hit after hit, sing along after sing along. Never have I seen such a joyous crowd. Highlights were too many to mention, but “Something” on the Ukulele and “A Day in the Life” morphing into “Give Peace a Chance” were definite standouts. And “Back in the USSR” sure got my mom up and dancing.
I’m amazed (maybe?) that he’s still got it. Sure there might be some neck flab that wasn’t there when he was doing jail time in Japan, but his chops are as good as ever. The man’s “whoooos” and “heeeeees” still sound like they did on Abbey Road, an album that turned 40 years old last week.
The show's magic moment occurred when McCartney played “Hey Jude”. After an emotional “Let it Be” and a rollicking “Live and Let Die”, Sir Paul played the one that everyone was waiting for.
As the lights came on for the endless “Na Na Na Na’s”, I turned around to see 35,000 Fenway faithful screaming their lungs out, sheer elation on their faces. I was standing in left field, seeing Fenway packed to the rafters, and this amazing feeling rushed over me. It was part ‘holy shit I’m hearing one of my favorite songs of all time and it’s not a letdown’, and part ‘wow I could totally throw a bullet to Varitek from here’. Even when basking in the glow of a Beatle, baseball is never too far away.
01. Drive my Car
03. Only mama knows
04. Flaming Pie
05. Got to get you into my life
06. Let me roll it/foxy lady
08. Long and winding road
09. My Love
11. Here today
12. Dance tonight
13. Calico skies
14. Mrs Vanderbilt
15. Eleanor Rigby
16. Sing the Changes
17. Band on the run
18. Back in the USSR
19. I'm Down
21. I've got a feeling
22. Paperback writer
23. A day in the life/give peace a chance
24. Let it be
25. Live and Let die
26. Hey Jude
28. Lady Madonna
29. I saw her standing there
31. Helter Skelter
32. Get Back
33. Sgt Pepper's reprise/ The end