|Our First "Back In The USA" Concert--One
|April 21st, 2003|
Sunday. One year ago today. Lynn and I boarded a bus, a magical bus, you might say--but it was no mystery where we were headed. Nope. We were on route to a venue where we'd join thousands of other like-minded individuals gathered to listen to some silly love songs--and what's wrong with THAT, I'd like to know??...
Yup, despite the both of us being devoted fans of that evening's featured performer--and his old band--ever since that cold February night in '64 when Ed Sullivan introduced them to an astonished America, it was the first time ever that me and my honey would be witnessing a live performance put on by the so-called cute Beatle, the knighted one himself, known to all the world these many years as one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century, yes, boys and girls, the one, the only, still alive despite all the rumors to the contrary, Macca, MISTER PAUL McCARTNEY!!!! (Did I mention I was a little bit excited at the prospect? Consider it noted.)
Y'see, the local oldies station was offering a package deal--transportation, dinner, and, oh yeah, a little musical entertainment, all for, well, all for a whole LOT. A pretty pricey piece of change, I assure you, and for any other event, you'd hear me screaming rip-off from here to Kalamazoo, but after all was said and done, we readily agreed that it was worth every shekel shelled out--even if the dinner was only so-so. It was a three hour trip to Long Island's Nassau Coliseum from our home base, so we started out at 2 in the afternoon, even though the concert didn't begin until 8 that evening. Grandma came over to stay with Julie, and soon enough we were off on that long and winding road.
I'll spare you the blow-by-blow description--suffice to say it was among the most memorable events I've ever been lucky enough to participate in. You people have probably picked up on the fact that comics meant an inordinate amount to me when I was growing up, right? Well, if there's any one thing that trumps my devotion to the funnybook form, it's my life-long devotion to the four cheeky lads from Liverpool!! Just call me the 565th Beatle (I don't want to sound TOO presumptuous...) Of course neither they nor their original fans are young any more, as was readily apparent from the looks of our bus riding companions. Still, Paul himself was in remarkable shape for his (then) 59 years, and, at nearly two and a half hours, showed tremendous stamina during his stunning performance. Amazingly, that distinctive voice sounded virtually unchanged from the one that played day in and day out on my worn down copy of "Meet the Beatles" during MY 11th year! Fact is, the fourth number of the night, "All My Loving" from that self-same album, provided one of the most emotional moments for me. Standing in front of a bank of video monitors flashing those iconic black and white images of the band debarking onto American soil for the very first time as this timelessly fresh and uplifting number was being sung by it's composer with as much joy and panache as when it was featured on that first Sullivan show, well--it brought a broad smile to my face and a happy tear to my eye, music lovers. There he was. Paul. Singing those songs. And there I was, listening. Amazing, simply amazing.
While I'm by no means an inveterate concert-goer, I've seen my share of biggies in my time. The Stones, the Who, the Beach Boys. The Eagles, the Go-Gos, the Pretenders. Smaller names that had bigger reps with me personally--10cc, Greg Kihn, the Roches, and Jonathan Richman (twice). Nothing else even came close. Uh uh. Not even the Ringo gig from two years earlier (which we'll discuss more thoroughly on May 15th--or, as we call it around here, "Ringo Day") THIS was nirvana (although it wasn't Nirvana, but you get what I'm saying...) Music has the mysterious and marvelous ability to extract tangible emotional responses from me unlike anything else, and first and foremost at the head of that melodic line-up is the work of the Beatles, both after but especially before they went their separate ways. Older now, with less left to prove, Paul no longer stints on the Fabs extensive catalog, sharing a generous 23 selections drawn from the greatest songbook in the history of rock with his adoring audience. Add to this the very cream of his solo material (... and "C Moon"), and ladies and gents, you've got yourself one heckuva concert!!
Of course, some of you may already be familiar with the star-studded song-list if you've grabbed up a copy of either the "Back In The USA" CD or DVD, both released late last year. While they certainly give you an idea just how good our man Macca sounded, they're both sadly lacking in several critical elements. The CD, while maintaining all the selections in their proper sequence, unwisely eliminates all of Paul's between song banter. Now, no one'll ever confuse Paul's stage patter with the dramatic delivery of a Bruce Springsteen (who I also saw, by the way) (NOT to drop names, heh...), but this tour featured more than his trademark "Wooos!!" and "How you doing (fill in name of city)?" shouts. There were some downright cute--if rehearsed--stories included in his act this time around. Most egregiously, the official release eliminates his heart-felt introduction's to "Here Today" and "Something", Paul's moving tributes to his two fallen mates, John and George (not to mention his later dedication of "My Love" to his late wife Linda) Believe me, there wasn't a dry eye in the house at this juncture in the show, and without the verbal set-up, the songs seem somehow hollow when piping out of the stereo speakers. And the DVD? It's all over the place, sequence be damned. What they SHOULD'VE done was just record the concert as it was, and, well, let it be! With a little luck, somebody DID!!
Lynn surprised the heck out've me with a videotape of the very show we attended as a gift for our wedding anniversary last June that she scored off eBay!! While it certainly wasn't the most professional of quality, it was surprisingly well put together, apparently filmed from several different angles and then edited almost like a real piece of MPL merchandise. However, when I tried duping it off for a pal, it just looked horrible, so maybe the bootleggers know something the legit guys don't!?! (Sorry, Matt, but I tried...) Once Lynn demonstrated what could be had on eBay, it didn't take me long to locate a bootleg audio recording of the April 21st date, and after a few unsuccessful tries, I finally managed to snare me a copy!! Ah, the wonderful world of technology! The sound ain't the best, but now I'll always have that Japanese massage story at the ready when I want to enjoy it again!!...
So, while it's the twenty-first day of the fourth month for the rest of the world today, round these here parts, it's Paul McCartney Day. Gonna roll out the tapes, the CDS, the DVDs, and relive one of the grandest days of my half-century and just let the music and good vibes wash over me. And come September 23rd, I'm gonna do it all AGAIN!! Oh, didn't I mention? Once was not enough. Not nearly. We unlocked the vault, cashed in some stocks, snagged some tickets, drove ourselves to Hartford Connecticut in a steady (but NOT Driving) rain--Julie in tow this time, which is a whole story in itself--and saw our SECOND show on the latter leg of Macca's 2002 American tour!?! Hey, it was well worth it--he did four new songs!! AND he cut "C Moon" from the set-list!! But, more about that on Paul McCartney Day II come this September!
A quick paraphrase, folks: you never give me your money, but I give me you my funny papers!! DONATE to the site, friends, because who knows, I may just want to hop aboard the Concord and take in a show on Paul's current European sweep!! And I repeat, what's wrong with THAT, I'd like to know???...
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