A day in the life of anyone can become more than just a 24 hour senseless event. It can be transformed into a mind-tattooing 24 hour long emotional ride with a little help from your friends, family, music or a mix of all those elements beautifully crafted into a 3 hour long live concert. Luckily, there’s a knight in sounding armor capable of making it possible: Sir Paul McCartney.
He’s known by Guinness World Records as “The Most Successful Composer and Recording Artist of All Time”, our mothers (or grandmothers) know him as “The Cute Beatle”, and many musicians know him as a living piece of music history, an idol, and a show master. Much of the rest of the world think of him as the last Beatle (sorry, Ringo, some people don’t believe you count).
After being a part of every single decade in music history since the 1960’s, a fantasy of many was to be able to go to a Beatles’ concert or at least to one of their last members’ shows (it had been this writer’s dream for years). Our best chance was Paul McCartney’s never-ending creativity and energy. Luckily for México, McCartney had a sold-out show a couple of years ago in México City’s Foro Sol. But we wanted –and needed- more.
Paul McCartney’s Maybe I’m Amazed (live)
That’s why, when a date in Guadalajara’s Omnilife Stadium was announced along with a date at México City’s Estadio Azteca, the first being held a couple of days before the other, many of us knew this was our chance. The only problem was, as always: money. Never before in this writer’s concert background had such scandalous prices been displayed: with tickets going from $50 to $900 and a VIP ticket that costs more than $2000. The smartest thing to do was to either go to Guadalajara –whose stadium is smaller than the México City’s, so the seat price could be cheaper and worth buying- or try to get a ticket for the Estadio Azteca after selling a kidney or two. So, away we went to watch Paul’s first performance in Mexican territory.
On the way to the concert (a little more than a 3 hour drive), it was funny to think about how many Beatles, Wings and McCartney’s songs we already knew and how much they meant to us. The Beatlemania fever never really died, it just bursts out of anyone whenever they hear their first Beatles song and it sticks with you for the rest of your life. It didn’t matter if you had heard a cover by another artist, listened to it during a school play, in a movie, during a typical 60’s themed party, if it had been handed to you by a relative or grown-up friend or if you just heard it by a struck of luck on the streets.
There’s a strange magic behind their music and Paul’s work. The structure of the songs is extremely simple yet extremely captivating, something music lost throughout the years. But would it be as magical live as it has been in record? As we became part of the 50,000 viewers stuck in traffic while attempting to get inside the stadium, doubts began to fill my nerves.
Then, just a little after 9 o’clock and with no opening act in sight, finally: we saw him standing there. Using his trademark Hofner bass and playing Magical Mystery Tour as the first of 41 songs. Junior’s Farm and All My Loving came right after, one timeless musical bomb after another. Wishing the audience a “Feliz 5 de Mayo” (which we actually do NOT celebrate) and greetings in Mexican slang whenever he had the chance, it was hard to believe this was one of the four legendary men that shaped an entire decade of music so many years ago.
With the throat and energy of a 20 year old inside the body of a 69 year old performing machine, you almost wished you had paid an extra amount of cash just so you could watch him a little closer. Why the hell are so many modern artists complaining about doing 70 minute shows? Sure, some dance and sing (come on, we know about playback) and play all the way through every night. But Paul McCartney switches between 6 instruments and plays for 3 straight hours, non-freaking-stop! He does it without taking that trademarked smile of his, dripping sweat and making a whole stadium his own.
Is there any extra beauty about it? Of course there is. When you see an audience filled with 6 different generations comes together as they sing 40 year old songs at once: you cry, man (you really do). Entire families, with an 80 year old grandmothers clapping along to Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da with her 5 year old granddaughters on her lap as a mariachi band plays along with Paul McCartney or fathers and sons hugging each other during Yesterday: these are the magic moments music can create when an artist stays true to himself and his fans after all this time. The magic to bond families, different ages, generations and ways of living and thinking is a unique power this art form carries within itself.
After tributes done in the name of John Lennon and George Harrison playing Give Peace A Chance and Something; blasting fireworks at the sound of Live And Let Die; doing a mini tribute to Hendrix’s Foxy Lady; soloing; doing 2 encores and an entire catalog with songs from his 52 year long career: we all had to get back to reality and let it be.
Some days before the concert, it was announced that Paul McCartney would play a free show on Mother’s Day right in the middle of México City, in front of an expected audience of 200,000 people. Damn luck. I know some of you that are reading this went. How was it? Please, let us know in the comment section. Because I’ve got a feeling it was bigger, better and more memorable than that night I saw the #1 showman on earth right now.
Who knows? Maybe I’m overreacting to the fact I finally saw and sang along with “a Beatle” and felt and witnessed the joy of 49,999 people around me singing along with him to the chorus of Hey Jude. Maybe I’m still awestruck by the way Paul McCartney can go from the theatrical display of Live And Let Die to the simplicity of playing Blackbird alone with his acoustic guitar.
Maybe I’m amazed…
Jorge A. López Mendicuti | Senior Writer