With each passing year, Paul McCartney’s shows feel less like rock concerts and more like guided tours. Not that “Let Me Roll It” and “Helter Skelter” don’t rock anymore; they absolutely do. But these days it seems McCartney’s crowds are there mostly to whittle down bucket lists. Hear solo-acoustic “Yesterday”? Check. See ukulele tribute to George? Check. Chant “na na na nananana” to “Hey Jude” coda? Check. And who can blame them? McCartney turns 69 this month, and there’s no telling when the Greatest Living Beatle might fade from the road for good.
Friday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the Macca appreciation circuit included a special stop, in the lower reaches of Section 117. There, flanked by two bodyguards, sat Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, Olivia Harrison and George Martin—objects of near-constant shutter snapping for the better part of three hours. No longer were we simply watching Paul perform his greatest hits; we were watching Yoko watching Paul perform his greatest hits. Would she get misty during “Here Today,” the song Paul wrote in the wake of John’s 1980 murder? Would she sing along to John’s “Give Peace a Chance,” appended to the end of “A Day in the Life”? Would the sudden pyro explosions during “Live and Let Die” jolt her from her aquamarine stadium seat? (The answers, in order: Her dark sunglasses hid her reaction; yes, and she also flashed peace signs with both hands; and no, silly, it takes a lot more than TNT to scare Yoko Ono.)
- Paul McCartney
- June 10, MGM Grand
For his part, McCartney looked healthy and appeared pleased to be in Las Vegas for his first public U.S. date this year, going so far as to carry a blue Nevada flag onstage for his encore. A corporate gig one night earlier in the same venue might have sapped some of his vocal strength, however, with Paul’s famously reliable voice coming up hoarse at points throughout the night. When he reached for a high note during “And I Love Her,” he came up completely empty.
Not that anyone seemed to care. The 33-song set featured well-chosen Beatles (“I’m Looking Through You,” “I’ve Got a Feeling”), Wings (“Mrs Vandebilt”) and solo (“Sing the Changes”) material, interspersed with stories from Paul’s singular musical journey. He even told one about the time he saw Jimi Hendrix play “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”