By Courtney Sultan
Published: September 27th, 2017
Living in the midst of a politically torn nation, nothing can provide a much-needed mental escape and soothe the soul quite like the power of music. So naturally, there was no better timing for the undisputed master of feel-good music, Sir Paul McCartney, to bring his One On One tour to Brooklyn to do what he does best: promote a message of peace, love and happiness.
His first time back at Barclays Center since his “Out There!” tour in June of 2013, he played to a sold out crowd of around 30,000 fans last Tuesday Sept. 19, his first of a two-night stay. Tickets that were sold through Ticketmaster were priced anywhere from $35 (for those “obstructed view” seats, wherever those are hidden) all the way up to a whopping $355.50 each for the prime viewing sections. That is not including the “VIP Experience,” where tickets cost in excess of $1,500 and include a private hour-long sound check as well as a front row seat. Needless to say, attending a Paul McCartney concert is definitely not cheap, but for the super fans, it’s a small price to pay to see the music icon.
McCartney opened with The Beatles classic “A Hard Day’s Night” and went on to sing megahit after megahit, including “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “All My Loving,” “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude,” playing his chart-topping Wings songs and solo material in between. McCartney joked that he could tell which songs the audience loved most by the amount of cell phone screens he could see. “When I play a crowd favorite, the audience lights up like a starry night! But when I play the new stuff…” McCartney reached out his hands gesturing as if he can’t see, “…it’s like a black hole out there!” Then he laughed and said with a smile, “But we’re going to do them anyway,” as he launched into “Queenie Eye,” off his 2013 album “NEW.”
A heart-stopping moment came when a wall of fire burst from the stage and Fourth-of-July style fireworks went off during the Wings hit “Live and Let Die.” The only subtle reminder of McCartney’s age came directly after the song’s final explosion of pyrotechnics – he put both hands over his ears and shook his head while mouthing “Too loud!” with a grin.
Although it’s hard to believe that McCartney is 75-years-old and has been performing for sold out crowds for over 55 years, he continues to add to his ever-growing fan base with no signs of retiring any time soon. Tuesday’s audience was diverse when it came to age—children, teens, parents, and grandparents were all in attendance, each just as excited as the next. However, it did seem like the majority of the crowd was in the 45-and-over range, and perhaps that was why “FourFiveSeconds,” a song McCartney recorded with Rihanna and Kanye West in 2015, was the only song of the evening whose lyrics were projected on the giant screens. My guess is so the older-generation fans would be able to sing along with that one, too.
Young, old or anywhere in between, McCartney loves connecting with his fans. The name of his tour, ‘One on One,’ was inspired by the individual connections he tries to make with each audience member. Before almost every song, McCartney gave a fun history lesson on it’s origin in a cute, father-like storytelling type of way.
There was also a moment in the show where he paused to read out several of the signs that fans were holding, some getting quite a laugh from the crowd. One sign read, “I drove through 2 hurricanes to be here!” Audience participation continued when The Beatles tune “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” was turned into an entire crowd sing-along, with the house lights shining so bright you could see all the way up to the highest balcony level. Joking with them, McCartney said, “I hear those seats are dangerous!”
Including the eight-song encore (counting two – yes, two – birthday songs dedicated to Jimmy Fallon, who was in the audience celebrating his 43rd birthday), McCartney performed a total of 40 numbers, singing for nearly three hours. The energy in the arena was so high by the time he announced his last song, “The End” by The Beatles, the crowd pleaded for more.
McCartney replied in perfect fashion, “There comes a time when we have to go home… and it coincides with the time you have to go home!” When the song ended, McCartney and his band took their final bow as a blast of patriotic confetti popped over the crowd, showering everyone in a sea of red, white, and blue. We may be living in a divided country, but tonight the consensus was crystal clear: Love is all you need!