Paul McCartney’s “Got Back” tour scores a touchdown at SoFi Stadium

Paul McCartney’s “Got Back” tour scores a touchdown at SoFi Stadium

Paul McCartney has something to prove. What that is stands between him and his psychiatrist, although the desire to appear and feel undiminished is perhaps not so mysterious. What we do know for sure is that in the year of our lord 2022, McCartney will be doing two hour and 40 minute sets that include 36 songs. Also, if this seems kind of sloppy, consider that the singer is sticking to his touring habit of recent years, conducting more informal, hour-long “sound checks” of 8 to 13 songs before opening the doors to fans buying VIP packages to see him almost four hours on stage every day of the show.

Unspoken at Friday night’s show at SoFi Stadium in LA, and not mentioned at all – although the Beatlemaniacs have it on their calendars for next month – is that he will be 80 next month, two days after the tour ends. It may be unfair to compare the ways in which different artists age, but it’s worth pointing out that McCartney is doing these rather marathon-like shows at a point in his life that’s past the point where Frank Sinatra gave his last concert after several years of publicly acknowledged erratism. And yet we’ve gotten to a point where 80 seems like the new July or August of his life anyway. No one would begrudge McCartney, and very few would, if he made a few cuts: trimming the length of the set to a reasonable two hours here, lowering the keys a little there, or dropping some of the vocals ad libs to suit his vote for Syracuse to spare. But McCartney has no intention of using the impending 80’s as a rationale to make him half-hearted for good. In fact, he won’t even try three quarters.

Of course, SoFi Stadium was packed with regulars — veterans of Wings Over America at the 1976 Forum, if not the Beatles at the 1964 Bowl — but you didn’t have to look too far to catch the sight of a 20-year-old kid , attending with a 75-year-old grandfather, or even groups of proactive Gen Z people who didn’t need Boomer mentors to see the value of coming. Whatever motivates McCartney to prove it all night, he’s well aware that the “Got Back” tour is the only live experience of his or the Beatles’ music these younger visitors will have in their lives will, and they will not grade it on a curve. That’s old people’s business: Were there enough deep 70s cuts in the setlist? Is his voice what it was on the 2003 tour? But it’s hard to imagine that too many people, having experienced this as their first or only McCartney show, wouldn’t walk away with deep feelings that they feel compelled to tell their own grandchildren about.

Lazy loaded image

Paul McCartney at the Paul McCartney Got Back Tour performance held at SoFi Stadium on May 13, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Michael Buckner for Diversity

The show here largely follows the template of the 2019 tour, so anyone who watched the tour finale at Dodger Stadium in July this year but missed SoFi needn’t worry that they missed too big a variation on the previous iteration. But McCartney didn’t really design the show with double-dippers in mind; LA is one of the very few markets he’s hit in 19 and is returning to in 22, while several other cities he hasn’t played in decades (Baltimore) or not at all (Spokane). A number of songs have come out since three years ago (this time gone are A Hard Day’s Night, the repeat of Sgt. Pepper, Eleanor Rigby, From Me to You, I’ve Just Seen a Face ‘ and – bet you’ve seen this come and go – ‘Back in the USSR’). Others have been reinserted from years past and tours (including “Getting Better,” “We Can Work It Out,” “New,” and – hey, what’s that buried gold? – “Get Back”).

Somewhat surprisingly, “Women and Wives” is the only song from his latest album McCartney III to be included on the tour, and even that was missing from SoFi’s setlist for some reason. But perhaps the reasons for generally underestimating “III” are obvious; It was a pandemic album, scaled down and clearly not designed for stadiums, unlike its predecessor Egypt Station. McCartney half-joked that when he plays a Beatles song it’s like a galaxy of cell phone lights, and when he plays contemporary material he’s staring into a black hole. But there hasn’t been a rush for the bathrooms during the 21st-century selection, not even for “Fuh You,” the co-writer Ryan Tedder, whom McCartney seems to continue to adore, despite the better recent choices he’s made are available to him. (Would he accept a request for “Deep, Deep Feeling” instead? No, he probably wouldn’t.)

As for older songs that have never been tried on tour before, McCartney isn’t making as much of that rediscovery this round, although fans do get “You Never Give Me Your Money” (last played on tour in 2003) and “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window” (on tour only in 2005) as a medley for the first time. Perhaps the true newcomer to the cast is the idea of ​​”I’ve Got a Feeling” as a Lennon and McCartney encore duet, with footage and isolated audio of his late partner edited from the Peter Jackson film “Get Back.” was for the purpose of the tour.

The show’s loose structure will also induce some déjà vu for those returning from 2019: a rocking opening stretch that leans heavily on ’70s rockers like ‘Junior’s Farm’ and ‘Letting Go’ as Act 1; a partly acoustic, ‘Storytellers’-esque magical historical journey through the rise of the Beatles as the backbone of Act 2, stretching back to the Quarrymen’s ‘In Spite of All the Danger’ and opening with the Lennon homage ‘Here Now’. and the Harrison cover “Something”; and then we let the third hour be birthday sons, na-na-na-na-na-na-na-ing and Abbey Road medley-izing.

Lazy loaded image

Paul McCartney at the Paul McCartney Got Back Tour performance held at SoFi Stadium on May 13, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Michael Buckner for Diversity

That structure undeniably works, and as part of a winning formula, it also works with a band that has now been together for many more years than the Beatles ever have, guitarist Rusty Anderson, guitarist and bassist Brian Ray, keyboardist Paul “Wix” Wickens and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. The latter is also the only dancer on the tour to whip up a storm behind the kit on “Dance Tonight,” before finally being forced to sit down and help create an acoustic jam mid-play. Anderson and Ray do a perpetually expert job recreating parts McCartney made largely by himself on his DIY records, and follow in Lennon and Harrison’s footsteps by participating in the triple guitar solos of “The End.” Horns have sometimes been replicated as keyboard parts on past tours, so the sight of a real three-piece horn section was welcome on tracks like “Letting Go” and “Got to Get You Into My Life.” In a way, the real star of the show: the Hofner bass, which McCartney not only plays for a significant portion of the show, but was animated for the pre-show countdown and is coming to the big screen as a version of New Year’s Eve Ball in Times Square and landing like a giant version of the “2001” monolith before the contestants see it in the wooden skin.

And what about McCartney as a singer… aged 79 and 11/12? By almost objective standards, he was both the best all-round singer and the most accomplished mainstream songwriter of the rock ‘n’ roll era – and how convenient it was in the 20th century to have both in one package. The catalog is set in stone, but its ability to ape Little Richard’s scream or navigate the perpetually tricky twists and turns of “Maybe I’m Amazed” is something we can’t assume or expect. It’s just assumed that rockers can sing their classics forever until we’re jolted awake that they can’t, as with the recent case of videos circulated by a certain ’80s icon not about to to hit the notes on his band’s most enduring hit anymore. Fortunately, fears that this would happen to McCartney have so far been unfounded. That’s not to say that observant fans won’t take note and discuss inevitable balladesque passages, where you’ll hear an interesting combination of power and contemporary fragility in his voice. But make no mistake – he takes the notes he’s always wanted and hits them without the usual adjustments that powerful singers have to make as they reach advanced age. He still howls. And if you listen closely, it might be a softer, less heartbreaking version of howling than it used to be. That’s more of a technical adjustment anyway than anything that’s going to get in the way of someone enjoying a hard-hitting resurrection of Helter Skelter

Yes, “Helter Skelter” is still on set and still as satisfying as ever, with McCartney maintaining its king-of-the-heap status on the precipice of an age we used to think Chuck Berry would survive the Walking movements with a pickup band in front of a few hundred people was the best that grandfather statesman rocking could do. As much as McCartney made history with The Beatles 60 years ago, it feels like he’s making history again by pushing the line on how long you can do this kind of massive, sophisticated show (as opposed to a Dylan or a Willie, who are also out there doing it, but with lower expectations of increased stadium energy). Standing on stage in front of 60,000 people and confidently cooing and roaring songs you wrote 60 years ago isn’t something God wrote into the human contract, but McCartney (like the Stones and Who and not too many others) is out to prove nature and the almighty wrong. McCartney’s only allusion to the passage of time was a final promise: “See you next time.” To do do we get that privilege back at this high level of performance in two or three years? In six? Who knows, but for now there’s reason to be grateful that he just can’t stop going back to the beginning of the slide.

Lazy loaded image

Paul McCartney at the Paul McCartney Got Back Tour performance held at SoFi Stadium on May 13, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Michael Buckner for Diversity

Lazy loaded image

Setlist by Paul McCartney for SoFi Stadium, May 13, 2022

Lazy loaded image

Paul McCartney at the Paul McCartney Got Back Tour performance held at SoFi Stadium on May 13, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Michael Buckner for Diversity

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.