Ken Hoffman heads to Mexico City to come together with Paul McCartney — and 87,500 fans
Sir Paul McCartney stopped by Mexico City for two concerts recently on his way to Brazil for a series of Got Back Tour shows starting this week. A friend and I went to the first concert at the Foro Sol soccer stadium in the Mexican capital. We flew United non-stop to Mexico City, found a hotel near the stadium, Ubered to the show, and were back in Houston 36 hours later.
For fun and adventure, and to see a Beatle, it was a trip.
It wasn’t a typical stadium concert like in the U.S. They packed ‘em in for McCartney. The official capacity for concerts at Foro Sol is 65,000. I was told that the unofficial attendance our night was 87,500. It was the most crowded place I’ve ever been. The floor was packed nose-to-nose like an elevator straining at the weight limit and people still trying to squeeze in.
Fans covered every inch of the floor all the way to the tunnel where teams get ready to take the field. The upper deck, where we sat, was colorless concrete bleachers with no seat backs, unless you count the knees of the people sitting behind you.
This wasn't your typical McCartney show. Paul McCartney Official/Facebook
Foro Sol didn’t have the array of hot dog stands and upscale food booths you find in modern U.S. sports stadiums. There were no steakhouses, fresh sliced delicatessens or sit-down restaurants.
No, Foro Sol stands sold tacos, mini-pizzas, peanuts, soda, beer, and other bare essential snacks. We had passed on dinner in downtown Mexico City – home to a world-class dining scene – planning to eat at the stadium. My friend’s “dinner” was two family-sized boxes of popcorn.
Sir Paul is still sprightly at 82. Paul McCartney Official/Facebook
Even I thought that was weird, and my main course was a giant chocolate frosted doughnut ($1) and a large Coke Zero ($2). (Editor’s note: So basically, your typical breakfast, Ken? ) No complaints.
There were several kiosks inside stadium grounds selling “official” Paul McCartney T-shirts for $35 and hoodies for $60. But outside there was a never-ending row of pirate souvenir stands hawking McCartney T-shirts and baseball caps for $5, hoodies for $15 and varsity jackets for $20.
McCartney, closing in on 82 years old, turned back the clock bounding gracefully across the stage, looking much like Beatle Paul, singing sort of like you want to remember him. His voice is raspy now and he’s not screaming like Little Richard these days.
But hey, give him a break – you're watching Paul McCartney sing “Hey Jude” live in person! Savor the moment. He played for nearly three hours, evenly divided between Beatles and solo material.
The song list and between-song patter were identical to the shows McCartney did in the U.S. last year and Australia this year. The only times he strayed from the script were greetings in Spanish off cue cards and one-time joining fans serenading him with the “Ole Ole Ole” soccer chant.
This was my 15th McCartney concert, the performer I’ve seen second-most in my life. Only Jimmy Buffett at 25 shows tops that.