Five years ago, I had the incredible opportunity to go and see Paul McCartney perform live for the very first time and I was awestruck throughout the entire three-hour performance. What I was certain was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see this legendary musician turned out to be the first of what is now two shows that I’ve been lucky enough to attend.
As we continue to see the constraining impacts of COVID subsite and the world arounds us begins to look more “normal” than we’ve seen in a over two years, this week’s trip to Syracuse further fomented that experience.
The show started right about 8:30pm, as the sold-out crowd at the newly re-named JMA Wireless Dome (formerly Carrier Dome). Thirty-five thousand strong were packed in and ready for an evening packed with hits spanning McCartney’s entire career. Fortunately, the air conditioning was working this time (it was broken during McCartney’s 2017 performance resulting in indoor air temperatures around 88 degrees!)
Paul McCartney’s Band: L to R: Rusty Anderson, Paul McCartney and Brian Ray with Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums
As the band took the stage, they ripped into “Can’t Buy Me Love,” easily one of the most instantly recognizable hits of the Beatles. From there, the set largely alternated between songs from both The Beatles and Wings, covering a total of thirty-six songs before all was said and done.
The highlights were too many to list, so I’ve included the full setlist below. Some real standout moments consisted of the George Harrison tribute performance of “Something.” The performance of “Get Back,” featuring clips of the new Disney+ series on the big screen behind the stage was a hair-raising moment for me.
Additionally, his performance of The Beatles “Blackbird” was an outstanding moment. McCartney discussed how the song was written while The Beatles were overseas in the 1960’s and watching news footage of the civil rights movement happening in the United States. To paraphrase, he commented that “I always thought America was the land of freedom, and it still is.”
My personal standout moment was the absolutely show-stopping rendition of Wings’ “Live and Let Die,” complete with more stage pyrotechnics than you’d see at a KISS concert.
Just as before, I found myself completely amazed that McCartney pulls off such an ambitious set while never stopping for so much as a break or intermission, save for a very brief stage exit before returning for an encore performance moments later.
The encore kicked off with a performance of The Beatles “I’ve Got a Feeling” featuring a virtual duet with John Lennon. As Paul introduced the concept of how this duet came to be, as suggested by Peter Jackson, I was really excited to see it. I’ve seen articles mentioning it already, but I completely avoided YouTube and any spoilers so I could experience this moment for myself. As the song began, I thought I might be missing something, as the screen behind was just using a visualizer display (think of those old PC screen savers). It wasn’t until a minute or two into the song when Lennon’s video performance appeared and his unmistakable vocals came through. What an awesome moment! If you’re going to see this show, don’t spoil it for yourself. If you don’t get the chance, then by all means look it up and watch.
As the show concluded, I was left in awe of this incredible performance and once again somewhat in disbelief that I’ve just witnessed one of the greatest musicians in the history of rock music. Legends like Paul McCartney aren’t getting any younger, so get these shows in if and when you can. Having now seen his show twice, I can confidently proclaim that you will be absolutely blown away. This may not be the cheapest ticket in town, but you’ll get every penny’s worth!
Setlist: (Sourced from Setlist.fm)
- Can’t Buy Me Love (The Beatles)
- Junior’s Farm (Wing’s)
- Letting Go (Wings)
- Got to Get You Into My Life (The Beatles)
- Come On to Me
- Let Me Roll It (Wings)
- Getting Better (The Beatles)
- Let ‘Em In (Wings)
- My Valentine
- Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five (Wings)
- Maybe I’m Amazed
- I’ve Just Seen a Face (The Beatles)
- In Spite of All the Danger (The Quarrymen)
- Love Me Do (The Beatles)
- Dance Tonight
- Blackbird (The Beatles)
- Here Today
- Lady Madonna (The Beatles)
- Fuh You
- Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! (The Beatles)
- Something (The Beatles)
- Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (The Beatles)
- You Never Give Me Your Money (The Beatles)
- She Came in Through the Bathroom Window (The Beatles)
- Get Back (The Beatles)
- Band on the Run (Wings)
- Let It Be (The Beatles)
- Live and Let Die (Wings)
- Hey Jude (The Beatles)
- I’ve Got a Feeling (The Beatles)
- Happy Birthday (The Beatles)
- Helter Skelter (The Beatles)
- Golden Slumbers (The Beatles)
- Carry That Weight (The Beatles)
- The End (The Beatles)