Paul McCartney took the stage at Fort Worth’s Dickies Arena, of all places, for the one Texas stop on his current “Got Back” tour and promised, “We’ll play some new songs, some old songs, and some in-between songs.”
Uh-oh, did he say “new songs?”
I love Paul McCartney. He’s the entertainer I admire most, for his music, for the way he’s lived his life. I have his autographed picture on my wall over my desk.
Remember that when I say, I was a little let down by his concert last week. It’s not just me. Many Beatles/McCartney fans, ones who’ve been with him all these years, are sniping online … the price of tickets, his voice, the setlist.
The price one pays
I can’t complain about the tickets, it’s the price you pay for a legend. I did blow out my budget for my seat three rows from the top. I looked at McCartney’s 13-city itinerary and picked the Dickies Arena concert because it’s one of the smallest venues on his tour.
The arena holds “only” 14,000 people and the place was jammed. The show before Fort Worth was SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, 71,000 fans—sold out. The show after was Truist Field in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 31,500 fans, sold out. Upcoming shows include Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida; 65,000 capacity, Camden Yards in Baltimore, 46,000 capacity; JMA (Carrier) Dome in Syracuse, New York 56,000 capacity; and MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, 82,500 capacity.
So, Dickies Arena comparatively was an intimate setting. I’ll drive the four hours.
McCartney could play and sell out any venue in Texas: NRG Stadium in Houston, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, or American Airlines Arena ,or Toyota Center, or wherever. Like Godfather 2, I didn't ask how Dickies Arena landed the McCartney concert.
Three years ago, I saw him play the Brookshire Grocery Arena (formerly CenturyLink Center) in Bossier City, Louisiana. I didn’t ask then, either.
Problem 1: the setlist
No problem with his voice, either. He’s pushing 80 next month, thank heavens, and can’t hit some notes on his most beloved songs, like “Here, There and Everywhere.” So what? He just doesn’t perform those songs anymore. Not to worry, he’s got the entire Beatles catalog plus a half century of solo material. That’s a couple hundred songs, including 29 No. 1 hit singles — the most ever — plus monster smashes that were relegated to B-sides and album cuts.
It’s going to be a night filled with the greatest hits from the most successful singer-songwriter in history. He still looks good, slim and smiling, and moves gracefully. That’s Beatle Paul up there. You’ll tell your grandchildren about this night you saw Paul McCartney.
Let’s discuss the setlist. As my friend Chip Namias texted me during the Los Angeles show, “it’s like he sat down and thought, ‘How can I piss off my fans?’ He’s doing too many new songs instead of Beatles.”
Twenty-nine No. 1 songs. He did only seven of them.
He’s often said that when he decides what songs to perform, he imagines what his fans want to hear. But, after doing a new song, like “Women and Wives” from his latest McCartney III album, he noticed, “When we do an old song you hold up your phones and it’s like a galaxy of stars. And when we do a new song, it’s like a black hole. But we don’t care, we’re gonna do ‘em anyway.”
So much for giving the audience what they want. His setlist – it’s practically identical for every show on his tour – included “Women and Wives,” “My Valentine,” “New, ” “Fuh You,” “Come On To Me.” They’re called dreaded “bathroom songs,” when the audience hits concession stands, T-shirt ($45 and up) booths, or restrooms.
The concert is predictable and rehearsed down to his gestures and “ad libs.” Most of the shows are available on YouTube in their entirety, so if you’re not into surprises, you won’t be disappointed.
In for a Penny
He didn’t do “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You,” “Penny Lane,” “Eight Days a Week,” “I Will,” “Ticket to Ride,” “Day Tripper,” and what might be the biggest pop hit of all time, “Yesterday.” McCartney not performing “Yesterday” is like sending Babe Ruth up to pinch hit and giving him the bunt sign.
I don’t care if he can’t hit the high notes, I want to hear Paul McCartney sing “Yesterday.”
McCartney performed 36 songs over 2 hours and 45 minutes, mostly from his solo years, but there were plenty of Beatles memories: “Get Back,” “Something,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Let it Be,” “Love Me Do,” and “Helter Skelter.” The most emotional moments came during the “Hey Jude” audience singalong and McCartney dueting with John Lennon on film for “I’ve Got a Feeling.” It sounded just like that cold winter day on a London rooftop in 1969.
The concert ended with McCartney roaring through the Side 2 medley from Abbey Road. But no matter how many Beatles songs he did, it could never be enough. The audience embraced McCartney with adoration and respect. Who knows when it will be the last time fans get to see this wonderful, amazing human being onstage in a full concert.
As he always does, McCartney waved goodnight and promised, “I’ll see you next time.”
I hope there is a next time. I’ll be there.