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19 Dec 2017

BY CHRIS JOHNSON

Paul McCartney has left our shores. Sad but true. And who knows when or if he will return?

Enough of the melancholy – Macca rocked the joint.

I travelled to Brisbane to catch the show, which had already received rave reviews in Perth and Melbourne and would continue to be praised in the Queensland capital and later still in Sydney.

The Brisbane concert was everything I expected it to be and more.

Threatened by a huge thunderstorm – which actually caused widespread damage as it crossed the south-east corner of the State, but miraculously passed just before the show started and remained dry throughout – it seemed nothing could stop the 75-year-old former Beatle from turning up and turning it on.

From the first familiar opening chord to A Hard Day’s Night, McCartney had the audience right where he wanted them.

For the second song of the night, he jumped from Beatles to Wings with a rocking rendition of Junior’s Farm.

Back to the Beatles with Can’t Buy Me Love, then back to Wings with Jet. Beatles again with All My Loving, followed by another Wings tune Let Me Roll it.

And so it went. The hits kept coming and were a mix of Beatles, Wings and solo numbers that amounted to one thrill after another.

McCartney’s band were on fire. And speaking of fire – just at the right moment during the opening lines of Live and Let Die, the whole stage spewed fireballs while pyrotechnics blast from the canopy of the massive stage. Images of bedlam were portrayed on the huge screens … and the crowd roared.

Visually, the concert was stunning. Psychedelic scenes lit up the stadium throughout the night. During the playing of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the iconic album cover came to life on a giant screen above the band. Literally. Digitally animated characters on the album cover jumped out of picture to interact with each other.

But of course, it was all about the music. And we weren’t let down. McCartney’s voice is obviously a little weaker these days but I was amazed (Maybe I’m Amazed) at just how strong and good it still sounds.

And his songs have stood the test of time – the three-hour, 40-song concert did not contain one dud. Even the handful of newer songs the band played were great tunes.

There were nods to his late bandmates John and George (he even played Something on ukulele), tributes to the Rolling Stones and to Jimi Hendrix, and a trip way down memory lane with the first song he recorded with the Quarrymen.

He also played us FourFiveSeconds, his latest collaboration with Rihanna and Kanye West. And during Mull of Kintyre, Sir Paul and the boys were joined on stage by the combined pipes bands of Brisbane, who proved to us that bagpipes really can sound sweet.

Getting to hear such outstanding classics as Lady Madonna, Helter Skelter, A Day in the Life, I’ve Got a Feeling, Let it Be, Get Back, Yesterday, Blackbird, Back in the USSR, Hey Jude, Carry That Weight, Eleanor Rigby and much more (in fact, except for the novelty albums Yellow Submarine and Magical Mystery Tour, he played songs from every Beatles LP) was gobsmacking.

Add to them post-Beatles masterpieces Band on the Run, Maybe I’m Amazed and Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five and, again, many more, and it was one jaw-dropping moment after another.

To hear and see all of these timeless numbers from the man who invented rock n’ roll (yeah I know, big call but I’m standing by it) was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Actually it wasn’t. I had seen him before when he last toured Australia in 1993.

He blew me away then. Blew me away even more this time. Can’t wait for the next one.

 

(Photography by Maria Rivarola)

Published: 19 Dec 2017