Monday, January 17, 2011

Paul McCartney Concert Review

Concert: Paul McCartney

Date: August 12th, 2010

Venue: Centre Bell, Montreal

I should have started blogging concert reviews long ago. In some ways it is almost a bad thing that my first concert review is this concert. I think that it only goes downhill from here. This was my dream concert. I have literally seen every one of my musical heroes in concert except Sir Paul. When he announced a date in Montreal, that perfectly fit at the end of a Nova Scotia vacation, I quickly called a friend and told her I was coming for a visit and that we were going to see a Beatle.

It's a bit of a long story, but not only did we end up with great seats, thanks to some new found friends, we also scored backstage passes. When we walked into the Bell Centre and headed downstairs, we were whisked to a waiting lounge where there was plenty of drinks and some snacky type foods. Paul's keyboard player, Paul Wix, came in and we had a great chat. He was more than happy to pose for a picture and answer some questions.

Not knowing that we were about to meet the rest of the band in a few minutes, I asked him, "So how does a guy land the McCartney gig?" He told me it was basically a case of being in the right place at the right time. Back in the early 90's, McCartney was working on a record with some of Wix's friends and they needed a keyboard player. They called him up and Paul liked him and he has been with him ever since. Shortly after being in this lounge, a guy from the tour came in and took us to another lounge. Security was very tight and you weren't allowed to roam anywhere. You had to be escorted by security everywhere you went. There were few more people in the second lounge, but not too many. All together, there might have been 12 of us. One of Paul's guitar players, Brian was in there. A short while later the other guitar player, Rusty came into to the room. Both these guys were very much like the keyboard player - very friendly, easy going, and approachable. They all seemed genuinely interested in meeting us and were more than happy to pose for pictures.


While some people were asking  questions that I'm sure they have been asked a million times before, they still answered as if they were being asked for the first time. I tried to ask better questions and when we started talking guitars with them and they seemed more than happy to talk with me. I found that I was very relaxed most of the time, but I also noticed that some of the time I would kind of drift off any find myself thinking "How the hell did I get here? How did I get to hangout and shoot the breeze with the best session guys from LA and Paul McCartney's band."

I also would get nervous at the thought that at any second, Paul McCartney might walk through the door. I've met lots of famous people over the years and I never get star struck, but there is a good chance I would have tensed up if I shook Paul McCartney's hand. Alas, it never happened but we still had a great time drinking free backstage wine and hanging out with the band. Although we never got meet Paul McCartney, from having met his band and seeing how nice of guys they were, I really get the impression that it is almost a pre-requisite that you have to be good a person to work for him. Even the other people on the tour who would come in and out of the room and give us directions were all very friendly and not the least bit snobbish. From having worked and played concerts and met many music industry people over the years, I can tell you that a lot of people (especially people with this high profile of a gig) are arrogant and not friendly. This was not the case on the McCartney tour. From the people he surrounds himself with, I envision Paul McCartney to be the way that we always see him - charming, endearing, friendly, etc...

Paul rocking the Hofner

"Let It Be"

On to the concert. The arena was packed and ready to rock. There was no opening act. The band came on stage at 8:10 and played for 3 solid hours. This is how concerts should be. The only other concert that I remember being like this was Elton John, where he came out and played for 2:45. Paul opened with a medley of Wings songs, Venus and Mars Rock Show which segued into Jet. The whole night was a nice mix of Wings, McCartney's solo work and Beatles songs. He definitely was heavy on the Beatles songs which no one complained about, and he did all the Beatles hits that he sang. He did a few that he didn't sing such as "Something" in a tribute to George Harrison and a "A Day In The Life" which of course was a tribute to John Lennon. I expected to hear a lot of songs, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear songs like: "I've Just Seen a Face," "Michelle," and "And I Love Her." Of course he played all the songs people wanted to hear: "Blackbird," "Band on the Run," "Let It Be," "Live and Let Die," "Hey Jude," "Yesterday." The list goes on and on. See the picture of the set list below. I got the impression that he really wanted to be there. Lets be honest, he doesn't tour because he needs the money. People like McCartney tour because they love performing for an audience. It's all he has ever done. It's the only life he knows. You would think he would be sick of singing "Hey Jude," but he went out there and played it like it was his last concert ever. Not one second of the 3 hours was phoned in. He talked to the audience but also charmed the audience with a lot of body language.
The highlight of the night for me was "Let It Be." It was the first song I ever learned how to play on the piano. Watching and singing along with "Yesterday" was also a treat. I was singing the "Na na na na na's" in "Hey Jude" so loud my throat hurt the next day. I feel lucky to have seen such a legend in person. The concert was a religious experience. This one is going to be hard to top.

What other people are saying:

THE GAZETTE "Sir Paul reigns at the Bell Centre"
"Paul McCartney and his stellar band deliver a masterful marathon performance to delirious fans at the Bell Centre last night."

LA PRESSE "The Merchant of Happiness"
"He's the one who can make you smile, sing, clap your hands or shed a tear, alone or with a thousand others."

"The legend's return."
"A wonderful voyage back in time a historic evening for his Montreal fans."
"In 5 words: A Day in the Life."
"La McCartneymania. Montreal downtown goes wild."

LE DEVOIR "Sir Paul McCartney at the Centre Bell: his shoulders carry it all, easily."

"We were amazed, touched we sing, we cry, we dance, we're celebrating"

MÉTRO "McCartney irresistible!"
"He fulfilled his fans by enchanting them with his biggest hits!" "A performance that exceeds perfection..."
"Is there a dictionary that contains words that renders justice to the emotions felt Thursday night at the Bell Centre, following Paul McCartney's return to Montreal after a 21 year absence."
"A marathon performance"
"Memorable and touching"
"Easy to be fantastic when a generous legend gives us such an unforgettable concert"


  1. I love your pic of Paul with the Habs shirt .

    This was an amazing night. I was there too, it was my 2nd McCartney concert. I bought a HotSound VIP. The soundcheck was really nice, a magical moment with Paul and the band!

    I was wondering if you have others pics of the concert, specially, if you have a pic of the girl with the Sgt pepper costume who went up on stage to meet Paul completly at the end of the concert? Paul was the Habs shirt during this time.

    (Sorry, my english is not perfect)

  2. Julie,
    Ton Anglais est beaucoup plus meilleur que mon français!

    J'ai beaucoup des autres photos mais, je n'ai pas celui qui tu cherches.
    Comment étais le soundcheck? Est'ce que c'était long?


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