JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

May 22, 2013
Frank Erwin Center
Austin, TX USA
Review by Elaine McAfee-Bender
Photos by 

Paul McCartney

King of the Universe

Maybe I'm amazed? ... Nope, not at all. I've come to expect the extraordinary from Paul McCartney. A Beatles fan since 1964, I saw the Fab Four in concert 3 times and the "Cute Beatle" so many times that I have literally lost count! With a blend of old and new, this was another carefully orchestrated show, led by the multi-instrumental, singer-writer, musical genius, gentleman, and showman, Sir Paul McCartney.

Outside the Frank Erwin Center with all the anticipatory hoopla, one would think the crowd was expecting the arrival of "King of the Universe." Well, pretty darn close! People of ages filled this sold out arena, many wearing Beatles or Paul t-shirts, happy to share memories of past music experiences, and quick to ask, "Is this your first time to see McCartney?" My daughter, Natalie, and I found our seats and couldn't help but notice how many concertgoers were taking photos with friends and family. This is a huge event, and everyone wants the photos to remember just how they looked at the Paul McCartney concert!

McCartney and band arrived and launched into "Eight Days a Week," "Junior's Farm," and "All My Lovin." The roar of the crowd and cheering seemed to indicate all is forgiven for the 45-minute late start. Paul tries out his best Texas accent with "Austin, Texas! Fust time Ah've been here," he drawls. Then, "So cool! I'm just going to take a moment to drink it all in for myself," as he walks to the edge of the stage and looks around at the audience. Working the crowd is something McCartney does extremely well.

"Listen to What the Man Says," preceded Paul's one wardrobe change.... He removed his pink jacket, revealing a long-sleeved white shirt, which he wore for the remainder of the show. "Texas, Baby! I hear Austin is a big music town," he drawled once more and on to "Let Me Roll It," and "Foxy Lady," a tribute the late-great Jimi Hendrix. "Good memory for us. The Beatles released Sergeant's Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band on a Friday, and on Sunday, Hendrix played it in concert."

"Paperback Writer" was performed with Paul playing the guitar used in the original recording. "My Valentine" was introduced with a sweet comment of "Here's one I wrote for the Missus." Paul frequently changes guitars throughout the show, and sat down at a black grand piano for "Nineteen Hundred Eighty-Five," which was dedicated to Wings fans. Beautiful video scenes accompanied "The Long and Winding Road," but one of the highlights of the evening was Paul's song for Linda. The opening chords to "Maybe I'm Amazed" were so off that Paul stopped, clearly embarrassed. "I should know it by tomorrow. Come again, I should have it learned by then!" and, later, obviously having trouble letting it go, "Proves to you, we are Live!" What's clearly "on" is Paul's voice. His vocal range is impressive, to say the least, and he rarely misses a note, even with the throat wrenching challenges required of him in this song!

"I've Just Seen a Face" and "We Can Work It Out" got the crowd on their feet and singing along. For "Another Day," Paul played a 12-string guitar. "And I Love Her" was augmented with some high notes and "ooooh's" on the end. The rising platform at the front of the stage was a new addition. The band left the stage and Paul sang "Blackbird," accompanied only by his own acoustic guitar. He asked how many in the crowd learned to play this song on guitar. "How cool is that?" was his response to the clapping and cheers.

I was watching a group of deaf adults, sitting in a reserved area on the floor. An interpreter signed all the lyrics and dialogue, and moved to the rhythm. The deaf fans sometimes signed along with the lyrics, swayed with the interpreter, and took photos of The Fab One. I had never seen anything like this and was fascinated, moved by what I saw. My daughter informed me that this is quite a common sight in Austin, since the State School for the Deaf is located there.

There were the expected, but touching tributes to John and George, "Here Today" and "Something." Like many around me, I was unable to hold back the tears. "Lady Madonna" got the crowd up on their feet once again. We sang along to "All Together Now" and, belted out the chorus to "Hey, Jude, " in a sea of waving arms and swaying bodies. "Mrs. Vanderbilt," "Eleanor Rigby," "Band on the Run," "Live and Let Die" with pyrotechnics, "Let It Be," Ticket to Ride," "Day Tripper," Hi Hi Hi," "Get Back" "Helter Skelter" with an awesome light show, were all spectacular goodies. "Back in the USSR" was a dance and sing-along delight. New songs on this tour were "Lovely Rita," and "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite." I was surprised by "Your Mother Should Know." (He had opened with Magical Mystery Tour when I last saw him in St. Louis, November, 2012). I even sang along with "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," although I swear I don't like this song!

First encore, Paul returns to the stage waving a large Texas flag to the delight of the audience. Second encore, he says, "You want us to keep going don't you?" YES, we do! "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End" is McCartney's signature closure. Total time on the stage: 2 hours 45 minutes. Number of songs sung and played by Paul: 38. Number of songs accompanied by his band: 36. Thank you's to: his band, the video and sound technicians, equipment managers, and roadies, and the 12,500 members of the audience.

As I looked around, I saw children, teenagers, young adults, middle age adults, and seniors, all singing along. If there is a Universal language, which transcends generations and countries, it is spoken and sung through the music of Paul McCartney! He is indeed a legend like no other, a member of the best band in the history of pop music, one of the most successful songwriters and entertainers ever, bass player extraordinaire, and multiple other musical instruments. Altruistic, classy, humorous, and humble. Wow! Almost unheard of in a mega-star!

Unforgettable! Paul circled his heart with the parting words, "in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make......"