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Concert Reviews:
Paul McCartney shows Detroit, Motown love at Comerica Park

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Monday, July 25, 2011

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DETROIT — It’s a city that tried to stamp out his band, the Beatles, in 1964 and started a rumor that he was dead in 1969.

But on Sunday night (July 24) at Comerica Park those were long-ago bygones as Paul McCartney, playing just one of eight stops on his summer On The Run Tour – took approximately 37,000 Detroit fans down a two-hour and 50-minute memory lane, mixing Beatles favorites with material from his days leading Wings and, of course, his solo hits.

“It’s great to be back in Detroit. We love it here. A beautiful place,” McCartney said early in the show. Clearly, no hard feelings.

And a treat, too. Talking about a Sunday afternoon visit to the Motown Historical Museum and the special place Motown music held in his life, he delivered a “special for Detroit” performance of Marvin Gaye’s “Hitch Hike.”

And though he played some semi-recent material — most notably “Sing the Changes” from his side project The Fireman — McCartney was of a mind to celebrate and pay tribute to the past and the figures in it. He gave Beatles writing partner John Lennon a nod with a medley of “A Day in the Life” and Lennon’s solo “Give Peace a Chance,” and he played a ukulele George Harrison gave him during a rendition of the Harrison-penned Beatles hit “Yesterday.”

Beatles songs, not surprisingly, dominated the night, with 23 of the night’s 33 songs coming from the Fab Four catalog. After a half-hour reel of 60s footage on the two giant vertical video screens at either side of the stage, McCartney and his four-piece band strolled on stage at 8:30 p.m. and kicked things off with “HelloGoodbye” and, after a quick burst of “Junior’s Farm” jumped into “All My Loving,” which he told the crowd “might take you back to the first time we played this place” in 1964 — and had the place dancing from the field to the top of the upper deck.

Other highlights from his Beatles days included the “Help!” rarity “The Night Before,” which is getting its first-ever in concert airing on this tour, “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” rockers such as “Drive My Car,” “Back in the USSR,” “Get Back,” “Day Tripper,” “Helter Skelter” and a fierce gallop through the “Abbey Road” album’s “Golden Slumbers”/”Carry That Weight”/”The End.” “Let It Be” was an emotional nadir, while “Hey Jude” remained a crowd participation fail-safe.

McCartney and company also paid particular to his 1973 “Band on the Run” album, delivering five of that set’s 10 songs include the title track, “Jet,” “Mrs. Vandebilt,” a charged “Let Me Roll It” and “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five” — the latter of which McCartney said was “for the Wings fans,” perhaps not realizing that “Wings fans” has a another meaning in Detroit. A powerful “Maybe I’m Amazed” tipped a hat to the very beginning of McCartney’s solo career, while his theme song for the James Bond film “Live and Let Die” came with a full compliment of pyrotechnics, including fireworks that shot high into the sky over Comerica.

There was rain before the show, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd or McCartney’s own exuberance, a still-boyish cheer even at age 69 that made it seem like the music was transporting him back to his youth just as it was his fans. He looked a bit tired at the end, but, well, he is almost 70. And when he told the crowd that “Y’know what? We’ll see you next time” he sounded like he had every intention of that happening — which nobody at Comerica on Sunday night would complain about.

Some well-heeled McCartney maniacs who were willing to pay more than $2,000 for tickets were also treated to a vegetarian dinner as well as a half-hour sound check at which McCartney and his band played a selection of songs it did not perform during the show, including the Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour,” Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox” and his solo hits “My Love” and “Ebony and Ivory.”

The concert was McCartney’s first in the Detroit metro area since a two-night stand at the Palace in 2005, and the first time he played within the city limits since his band Wings performed at the old Olympia Stadium in 1976.

Also, before the concert, McCartney filmed an interview for a documentary about the 9-11 attacks that will debut on Showtime this fall.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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