July 08--Sir Paul McCartney, who christened the new Consol Energy Center with back-to-back concerts four years ago, returned to the Uptown venue Monday night to a warmly welcoming, all-ages, sold-out show that was so crowded it was hard to move.
In a set that lasted more than three hours, including two multi-song encores, the former Beatles member gave us a fabulous concert. His talent is enough to recreate the Beatles on stage. More than half of the 41 songs from the Beatles were guided by McCartney's vocals, including the opening "Eight Days a Week," crowd favorite "Hey Jude," the ballad "Yesterday" and the emotional-yet-simple anthem "Let it Be," which was backed by video images of floating peace candles.
McCartney threw in a few of his hits from his time with Wings, including "Band on the Run" and "Listen to What the Man Says." He skipped most of his best-known solo songs from the '70s and '80s -- like "Let 'Em In" and "No More Lonely Nights" -- and they would have been a welcome addition to the set, long as it was already.
It would be easy to expect a lackluster performance from McCartney, who is 72 and recently cancelled numerous shows because of a viral illness. The audience at Consol would never know it, though, from how good he sounded.
Before and during the concert, nostalgic images surrounded us, such as pictures of the younger McCartney with Beatles bandmates John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison. McCartney gave tribute to his comrades, acknowledging Starr's July 7th birthday with a snippet from the classic "Yellow Submarine." McCartney strung a ukulele and remembered Harrison as he sang "Something" and he gave a beautiful tribute to Lennon with the wistful song "Here Today." The stage rose and lifted McCartney up on a platform for that one, along with the Civil Rights-themed "Blackbird."
The most explosive moment in the show came, literally, with "Live and Let Die," which came with a surprising pyrotechnics show with flames shooting up from the front and back of the stage.
McCartney took time throughout the evening to engage with the audience and talk to us about his career memories and Pittsburgh. He clearly loves what he does, and so long as he is physically able, it's hard to imagine this artist ever retiring.
The audience included some older fans who saw the original Beatles perform at the Civic Arena in September of 1964, and have also seen McCartney by himself in concert many times. Many others seemed to be second- or third-generation fans who love McCartney and the Beatles as if they are of that generation. McCartney's concert gave many fans what will surely be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see him in concert, and to celebrate a royal period of pop culture history.
Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7824.
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