Paul McCartney turns 80 on Saturday.
Last night he played a three hour – plus show at Metlife Stadium in the Meadowlands. He never took a break or went to the bathroom. Maybe he had a drink of water. Looking young and robust as ever, Paul sang, danced, played all kinds of guitar and keyboards. He covered the Beatles history, his solo career, reminisced about how the song were written.
And then he welcomed Bruce Springsteen to the stage. Bruce sang “Glory Days,” Paul played bass. Then they performed the Beatles early hit “I Wanna Be Your Man.”
Bruce wasn’t the only guest. Jon Bon Jovi came out later with balloons and led the crowd of 50,000 people on “Happy Birthday.”
Paul, by the way, didn’t play his most ferocious rock song, “Helter Skelter,” until he’d been on stage for almost three hours!
It was a windy, cold night at Metlife, with the threat of rain a constant. Rain finally did come in third hour, as the band tore through “Live and Let Die” with a magnificent fire works display, flames so high and hot they almost singed my eyebrows. But the rain was hard and brief enough to breathe a sigh of relief when it ended.
In the crowd: Little Steven van Zandt and wife Maureen. Lorne Michaels, Mike Bloomberg, Whoopi Goldberg, famed concert promoter Ron Delsener, actor Kevin Corrigan, among others. There was also a lot of McCartney’s family.
The mood in the audience was beyond joyous, and maybe a little shocked. Paul has lost a little of his top notes, but his voice is still there. Anyone else would be jealous of his command. He doesn’t miss a beat as a musician, and while some of the songs have been slowed down over time, their incredible composition and construction remain unshakeable. This was as if Gershwin had lived to 80 and was out conducting “Rhapsody in Blue” every night. Insane!
A treat for the audience: McCartney singing the Beatles “I’ve Got a Feeling” live with film of John Lennon singing his part from the famous rooftop concert. Paul also tributed George Harrison with “Something,” playing ukulele. Paul also played the mandolin on a couple of song.
So many standouts, but “Band on the Run” was ebullient, everyone sang along, and “Hey Jude” was extraordinarily moving.
Favorite moment: halfway through, Paul said, “We know the songs you like. When we play Beatles songs, the whole place is lit up with your phones. When we play a new song, it’s like a black hole.” He took a beat. “And you know what? We don’t care.” Everyone laughed.
For the big ending, the medley from “Abbey Road” which ends with “the love you make,” etc, Springsteen returned to the stage for a huge jam session with Paul and his band. Bruce, looking incredibly fit and younger than ever, seemed like he was ecstatic to be on stage with one of his idols.
The whole thing was indeed extraordinary. I first saw Paul at Wings Over America in 1976, his first American tour after the Beatles break up. I slept outside at the Capitol Centre in Landover, Maryland for general admission tickets. And here were are, seven thousand years later, it’s all come full circle.
More photos and video later today.