November 29, 2005
Los Angeles, CA
Most of my friends will tell you I’m about as big a Beatles fan as they know, and most of my friends are pretty big Beatles fans. From a very early age, The Beatles taught me basically everything I love about music. They’re even probably to blame for turning me into a bit of a music elitist. That’s because once I realized how incredible they were, I just held musicians and artists to a higher standard. For awhile in high school, I only listened to The Beatles…for almost 2 whole years…just The Beatles, nothing else. I spent hours making mixtapes- recording my favorite songs from CD’s to cassettes- since CD burners barely existed and iPods weren’t even fathomable. I made mixes of every possible kind: compiling my favorites written by each member, grouping songs based on instrumentation and how they made me feel, creating new track listings of their albums that included the singles written during the same recording session (imagine “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” on Revolver). My favorite part of going to church on Sunday mornings was getting the chance to listen to Breakfast with The Beatles on KLSX in the car. There also happened to be a Beatles only radio station in LA for a short while and I thought being a DJ for them might be the coolest job ever. When asked-for my first web bio- the four people dead or alive I would most want to have dinner with, I responded without hesitation. John. Paul. George. Ringo.
While my Beatles phase grew out of obsession into a more regular appreciation, it always saddened me that my favorite band was one that I never would be able to see live. Seeing that most of my favorite artists hold a special place in my heart mainly because of their live shows, the connection I’ve always held with The Beatles has been because of their timeless music and message. They have always been perfect to me, every song, and every album. Nowadays, when I put on a Beatles record, they seem as fresh as the first time I heard them- like it could have been written and recorded a month ago. Their sound and influence is present in everything I listen to, and their cultural relevance is everywhere. Still though, the feeling of seeing and hearing those songs performed in front of you isn’t really ever going to be possible. You can only catch glimmers of what it would be like, but in the case of seeing Paul McCartney live, that glimpse is everything you would ever hope for as a Beatles fan.
I did see Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band in 1997. As cool as it was to be in the same building as a Beatle, that show was as much a celebration of Ringo’s cohorts (Cream’s Jack Bruce and Peter Frampton to name a few) as it was of his own work. George Harrison, my favorite Beatle, hadn’t toured since the early ‘90s. I’ve seen countless Beatles tribute bands, some good, some not so good. McCartney was the Holy Grail then, but it always seemed like seeing him in concert was a pipedream- too expensive, too rare, too many other people with the same idea. I don’t remember exactly how we got them, an early Christmas present I suppose, but my parents came through with 3 tickets to see Paul at Staples Center in 2005. My Mom, ever gracious, let my Dad be the one to take my sister and I to the show. I remember thinking then that it was fitting I would see Paul for the first time with my family, since The Beatles were such a big part of growing up in my house.
What I remember most about this show, without a doubt, is the feeling that came over the arena when Paul McCartney took the stage. It was complete euphoria. My reaction and the smile on my face must have been ridiculous as my sister told me “you’re screaming like a little girl.” I was just that happy to share the same space as one of my all-time heroes. All I remember about the actual performance was how great Paul sounded…that and his touring band (same guys to this day) were a bit too douche-y to playing George Harrison’s lead parts or harmonizing John Lennon’s backing vocals. I mean if you are playing shows with Paul McCartney, you are clearly talented…just don’t look like a tool on stage. Stand in the dark on the side and let the man do his thing. Those guys aside, the setlist was insane and every song was incredible. Sir Paul was a young 63 then, and the guy was cranking out a 40 show U.S. tour and playing 36 songs a night. At least two thirds of those songs were Beatles songs, the other third split between Wings stuff and songs to support his new album at the time. There were obvious Beatles choices, like “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be” but also some nice surprises with “Fixing A Hole” and “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window.” I’ve been emotionally moved at shows, I’ve been amped up at shows, I’ve had some truly memorable times, but I can’t ever remember being happier at a show than I was at this one. The charisma, musicianship and artistry that made Paul McCartney a living legend is still there in abundance and I couldn’t feel any luckier than to share it live, if just for a night.
Super Annoying Guy(s) of the Show: It would be funnier if I let my sister tell this part of the story, since she still gets fired up about the super annoying lady a few rows behind us at this show. This lady is probably the *all-time* annoying show-goer. Long story short, said chick repeatedly yells at my sister and I to sit down. We contend that it’s easier for her to stand up and dance than it is for us to sit on our hands during a freaking Paul McCartney concert. I mean, sitting down while Macca is ripping through “Helter Skelter” is down right criminal. This lady took it as far as throwing popcorn at us. I just never understood her beef. It wasn’t like we were talking on our phones or doing spin kicks in the aisles, we were singing and dancing and into it. It’ll be a sad day when all the shows I go to are ruled by people who just want to sit down.
Moral of the Show: If you’re one of those people who hate The Beatles because everyone else tells you how great they are, I feel sorry for you. Especially if you consider yourself a fan of music, an appreciation of their work is essential in my opinion. I’d bet most folks who try and dismiss their influence have never really sat down and listened to Abbey Road, Rubber Soul, or the White Album. Some things you just have to accept as fact. Science, really. If you have the opportunity to see Paul McCartney, one of the truly iconic artists in recorded history, just do it. You’ll be an instant convert.