Wings Singer (And Member Of That Other Band) Wows Wrigley

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 1, 2011 4:00PM

For almost three hours and over three dozen songs Paul McCartney delivered a concert set that only picked up steam as it went along. At one point in the evening we wondered just how do you critique a musical legend who still plays like he's excited to be there? Unlike other nostalgia acts who seem to be primarily motivated by ever increasing paydays, and have the stilted stage shows to prove it, McCartney wrung new life out of tunes that were were three to four times as old as quite of few of the folks in the audience.

The 37 song setlist drawn from his work with the Beatles, Wings and various solo albums made it impossible for anyone to leave feeling like they didn't get everything they hoped for and more. The hits were all there, but when McCartney launched into a raucous version of "Junior's Farm" just two songs in it was obvious that the classics weren't going to be treated like fragile antiques.

McCartney's five piece band did an amazing job of transforming themselves into whatever each song required, adding the jangle to early Beatles tunes and laying on the spectacle for some of McCartney's later work with Wings. And speaking of spectacle, the show was low on the props and high on musicianship and entertainment. Aside from fireworks (and fireballs that we could actually feel the heat from) during "Live And Let Die," McCartney depending on his easygoing charm and natural showmanship. This had the effect in transforming the massive stage settled in the outfield of Wrigley Field into something more intimate, bringing the sold-out crowd into his show instead of simply acting out set pieces in front of all of us. Even the stage banter sounded cozy. Only McCartney could make a story of Jim Hendrix asking Eric Clapton to re-tune his guitar mid-show during an early UK appearance and make it sound like an old anecdote between goofy friends.

And again, that was the nifty trick he pulled off last night. On one hand it's impossible to ignore the man's a legend. As a friend of mine said going into the show, "How weird is it to go to a concert where you already know everyone will know the word to every song, even if they didn't think they did before hand?" McCartney is not only deeply woven into the fabric of what we know as rock and/or roll, he and some of his closest friends created the bedrock much of it is built on. His show at Wrigley celebrated that rich history without ever getting caught up in the past; instead McCartney dared everyone to keep up with him since he's showing no signs of slowing down.