Paul McCartney: 16 July 2014 - Sprint Center, Kansas City, Missouri

[30 July 2014]

By William Carl Ferleman

Music icon Paul McCartney performed a masterful, marathon-like show at an all but sold-out Sprint Center in Kansas City. The former Beatle closed this U.S. leg of his Out There tour, and proved that age is a moot point if one’s passion and ability still reign. McCartney, 72, was compelled to cancel concerts in May due to illness, but his overall fitness that July night would put most musicians to shame.

In fact, McCartney’s 39-song set clocked in at approximately 170 minutes, and it entailed a generous array of the Beatles’ mega-hits, such as “Hey Jude”, “Yesterday”, “Helter Skelter”, “Eleanor Rigby”, and “Let It Be”. Also, McCartney played cuts from Wings, and his own deep solo catalog, not least his latest album,New (2013), from which four tracks were showcased.

McCartney was noticeably loquacious and restless, as if he had a bottle of Kansas City wine. McCartney also played the role of a music historian, and the adoring audience truly relished his histories. McCartney lauded Jimi Hendrix, and stated that Hendrix had learned to play Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) within days. Moreover, McCartney claimed that he had penned “Blackbird” in the context of the civil rights movement in the South. McCartney, too, mentioned that a former Russian defense minister totally cherished “Love Me Do”.

As for highlights, “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be” were considerably well done, and during the former, McCartney encouraged an eager audience to sing its famous coda. As for heavier songs, “Helter Skelter” doesn’t get any better, or louder, than this live and the outright psychedelic mood of “Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!”, an obscurity, was matchless. The singer also performed “Here Today” in tribute to his slain mate John Lennon, and adroitly performed “Lady Madonna” with a priceless, vintage 1960s-era Epiphone Casino guitar.

Oddly, “Live and Let Die”, a theme song about a certain British secret agent, was unusually puissant and riveting—and it included face-melting pyrotechnics; McCartney’s most notable ballad, “Yesterday”, was truly exceptional in its relative simplicity and universal melancholia. A new song, “Queenie Eye”, won fans’ attention and McCartney’s “Kansas City” cover was a nice display of courtesy, though his decision to include B-side “I Saw Her Standing There” from Please Please Me(1963), The Beatles’ debut, was brilliant. Then there was “Something”, which he did with a ukulele in hand. It was a tearful tribute to George Harrison. (“Get Back” and “Hi, Hi, Hi” were excised.) 

McCartney’s band didn’t miss a beat. A polished quartet, it featured Rusty Anderson on guitar, Brian Ray on guitar/bass, Abe Laboriel, Jr. on drums, and Paul “Wix” Wickens on keyboards. Further, it appeared they enjoyed a genuine camaraderie with McCartney, a natural musician. Anderson and Ray jammed with an admiring, cheerful McCartney—during “Helter Skelter” for instance. Anderson’s lead guitar riff during “Day Tripper” was most excellent. So, too, was Ray’s bass guitar bit when McCartney hit the piano.

The Beatle didn’t cheat anyone and played all the big hits, but he could add a cover of Michael Jackson’s “The Girl Is Mine”, on which he worked, into his repertoire. Similarly, given his preference for tributes, he could entertain the addition of his fine 2012 Nirvana collaboration “Cut Me Some Slack”. In addition, alternate songs could be pondered, namely “Michelle”, or dare I say, a solely Lennon-penned song such as “Don’t Let Me Down” or “Happiness Is a Warm Gun”.

However, on this night, Paul McCartney commanded the stage in Kansas City with an astonishing degree of seemingly effortless finesse. Indeed, any talk of retirement must be just that. It’s simply not in the cards right now for the former Beatle, whose live show was an unrivaled tour de force. A most glorious concert.

Photo credits: William Carl Ferleman

SETLIST

01 Eight Days a Week
02 Save Us
03 All My Loving
04 Listen to What the Man Said
05 Let Me Roll It / Foxy Lady (Hendrix tribute)
06 Paperback Writer
07 My Valentine
08 Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
09 The Long and Winding Road
10 Maybe I’m Amazed
11 I’ve Just Seen a Face
12 We Can Work It Out
13 Another Day
14 And I Love Her
15 Blackbird
16 Here Today (Lennon tribute)
17 New
18 Queenie Eye
19 Lady Madonna
20 All Together Now
21 Lovely Rita
22 Everybody Out There
23 Eleanor Rigby
24 Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
25 Something (Harrison tribute)
26 Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
27 Band on the Run
28 Back in the U.S.S.R.
29 Let It Be
30 Live and Let Die
31 Hey Jude

Encore
32 Day Tripper
33 Kansas City / Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey
34 I Saw Her Standing There
35 Yesterday
36 Helter Skelter
37 Golden Slumbers
38 Carry That Weight
39 The End

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/184078-paul-mccartney-16-july-2014-kansas-city-missouri/