Hamilton manicurist got to hold his hand
Paul McCartney capped his firstever Hamilton performance Thursday night with a special tribute to his Scottish roots and a tip of the hat to our city’s heritage by bringing the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders pipe band on stage to back him for a stirring rendition of “Mull of Kintyre.”
The 74-year-old former Beatle worked the sentimental Wings’ song into the encore portion of his three-hour show at the First Ontario Centre, before closing with “Birthday” and his signature signoff — the “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End” medley from the “Abbey Road” album.
“Mull of Kintyre,” a song written to commemorate a part of Scotland in which McCartney has long owned a farm, was a rare treat for the 15,000 fans in the sold-out audience. McCartney has only played the song in one other city — Vancouver — on the current “One on One” tour, which got underway in April.
“We can’t come to Canada without doing this next song,” McCartney said as 25 members of the Argylls lined up on stage behind him.
The concert, performed without a break, featured a total of 39 songs (less than $10 per song for those who purchased tickets at more than $300 a pop) representing a career spanning more than five decades through the Quarrymen, the Beatles, Wings and McCartney solo projects.
“Good evening, Hamilton, I’ve got the feeling we’re going to have some fun tonight,” McCartney told the crowd after opening with the iconic Beatles song A Hard Day’s Night.
“We’ve got some old songs, some new ones and some in-between ones.”
The earliest song he performed was “In Spite of All the Danger,” the first song recorded by the Quarrymen in 1958. The most recent one was “Four Five Seconds,” a song McCartney recorded with Kanye West and Rihanna last year.
He made sure to pay tribute to old friends who had passed away, dedicating the Beatles’ first single “Love Me Do” to the band’s late producer George Martin.
For John Lennon, McCartney did a solo version of “Here Today,” a bittersweet tune he wrote after his longtime collaborator was assassinated in 1980.
And McCartney picked up a ukulele — one of Beatle guitarist George Harrison’s favourite instruments — to perform a moving version of “Something.”
McCartney brought with him only a four-piece band — Rusty Anderson (backing vocals, guitar); Paul Wickens (keyboards, guitar, percussion), Brian Ray (bass, guitar) and Abe Laboriel Jr. (drums, backing vocals).
It was all that was needed, however. McCartney’s repertoire speaks for itself and when a little extra was needed, like a string section on Eleanor Rigby or a sax solo on Lady Madonna, Wickens supplied it aptly on the synthesizer.
There was a trippy light show to set the tone for “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” and a spectacular pyrotechnic display for “Live and Let Die,” but they weren’t really needed either.
Aging rock stars always face the risk of turning into caricatures of themselves. Not Paul. Not yet, anyway. For one thing, he doesn’t look a day over 60. He could probably even pass for 55.
There’s also that ‘fab’ charm — the swivel of the hips, the wink of an eye and all that well-hewn patter, stories that have been told hundreds of times but still seem fresh, about Lennon, Harrison, Communist commissars, and Jimi Hendrix.
And that voice, one of the greatest in rock ’n’ roll history, is still there — strained and a little wobbly at times — but it’s there, still hitting those wonderful high woohoos, probably not as high as they used to be but still enough to tingle the spine.
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.
Paul McCartney treated the audience at FirstOntario Centre to a full slate of his music. He performed 39 songs over three hours.