I’ve witnessed greatness on stage many times in the nearly three decades since I first started going to concerts. I’ve seen many early rock and heavy metal bands from “back in the day,” including pioneering acts such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult, Aerosmith, and even The Rolling Stones. But never before have I managed to catch one of The Beatles, the ones who started it all, and undeniably my earliest memory of rock music going back to when my parents had first introduced me to them so many years ago.
But that finally happened this past Saturday, May 28, when legendary former Beatle himself Paul McCartney took the stage at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL. I was there to witness this much anticipated event with my wife, son, mother-in-law, and extended family and friends of the Rewind It Magazine family. I don’t think a single one of us could issue a word of complaint if we tried.
Opening with the classic Beatles track “Can’t Buy Me Love,” I was instantly transported back to childhood memories of seeing old black and white footage of the fab four bobbing around on stage together. For the next two and a half hours, I found myself so transfixed on that stage, possibly the most lost in music I’ve ever been in my lifetime prior.
The next few songs, “Junior’s Farm,” “Letting Go,” “Got to Get You Into My Life,” and “Come On To Me” all served as decent enough warm ups that were paving the way to better things, the blues-ly Wings staple “Let Me Roll It” and the Sgt. Peppers-era “Getting Better” being a couple of said things. “Let ‘Em In” followed before McCartney dedicated “My Valentine” to his wife (who was in attendance for the show) and oddly enough featured actors Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman “signing” the lyrics on the video screens.
“Nineteen Hundred Eighty-Five” was up next with some retro lazer light work, while more classics like “Maybe I’m Amazed” and The Beatles’ “I’ve Just Seen a Face” followed. Paul then dug deep with a track from his pre-Beatles Quarrymen days, “In Spite of All the Danger,” as well as “Love Me Do,” each featuring a little history of their original recordings from McCartney.
The semi-newer track “Dance Tonight” was next before McCartney took the stage solo with an acoustic guitar to perform “Blackbird,” another chill-inducing moment. “Here Today” was next up, before McCartney joked about the lack of interest usually reserved for newer music, before appropriately going into a newer track in the form of “New,” featuring the refrain “We can do what we want.”
Another Beatles number, “Lady Madonna,” proceeded before the interesting “Fuh You,” and although the Sgt. Pepper track “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” attempted to bring the psychedelic vibe with it, it was definitely one of the weaker moments of the night. A little backstory on late Beatle George Harrison preceded a ukulele-driven version of “Something” before picking things up again with the goofy but harmless “Obla Di, Obla Da.”
From then on it was nothing but the best, including some Abbey Road (my favorite Beatles album) era classics like “You Never Give Me Your Money” (which McCartney explained he and his current band had never performed live before) and “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window,” before launching into “Get Back.”
Another Wings track, “Band on the Run,” followed before McCartney took the piano again to serenade the crowd with “Let it Be,” blow everyone away (literally with various pyros and explosions) with the James Bond theme “Live and Let Die,” and invoke the entire stadium to sing along with “Hey Jude,” the unforgettable, massive Beatles anthem from 1968, and close out the first set.
It didn’t take long for McCartney and company to take the stage again for an encore, beginning with “I’ve Got a Feeling,” which he explained Get Back director Peter Jackson had isolated John Lennon’s vocals for specifically for the tour, and fans were therefore given a rare treat. “Birthday” and “Helter Skelter” got the crowd on their feet again, while the epic climax of “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End” (hands down one of my favorite Beatles medlies) was finally enough to choke up an old dog like myself, as I became overwhelmed with emotion, knowing just what greatness I had just experienced.
As if this wasn’t all enough in itself, a chance encounter on the way out of the stadium found us actually crossing paths with Alter Bridge and Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti (see photo below), who was more than happy to briefly chat with us about the concert we had all just witnessed (among other things). I couldn’t possible write a better ending to an already epic story if I tried.