The Austin Chronicle

The Long and Winding Road

By Austin Powell, August 21, 2009, 1:21pm, Earache!

The Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium in Arlington is large enough to house the Statue of Liberty or one gift anointed by the Queen of England: Sir Paul McCartney. Anticipating the release of Rock Band: Beatles and the Fab Four’s forthcoming reissue campaign, McCartney rolled out a two-and-a-half hour hit parade that proved all of his Liverpool schoolboy charm is still intact on the last night of his US tour.

The set selection was more of an anthology, spanning Wings (“Jet,” “Band on the Run”) his solo career (“Flaming Pie,” “Only Mama Knows”), and Fireman project, last year’s Electric Arguments’ (“Highway”). That amounted to a bit of a lull during the first half of the show, especially given the echo-chamber acoustics, but the stadium pogo of “Mrs. Vanderbilt” provided an unexpected jolt midway through. Later, “Let Me Roll It” segued into McCartney’s fiery instrumental riff on “Foxy Lady” and a story about Hendrix covering Sgt. Peppers two days after its release at a club in England and calling on Eric Clapton to tune his guitar for him – priceless.

Sir Paul paid tribute to both George Harrison – a beautiful ukulele-led rendition of “Something” – and John Lennon – the doubts still lingering in “Here Today” – though symbolism aside, the latter remains a rather bland eulogy. The real surprise of the evening was a spry cover of Buddy Holly’s “It’s so Easy,” performed with the starry-eyed enthusiasm of the ‘63 Beatles. “When we were kids back in Liverpool, one of the biggest influences on us was a man from Texas,” McCartney prefaced the selection, a noticeable lilt to his vocals throughout.

The last 90 minutes past almost too quickly. Highlights included the serene “Blackbird,” acoustic “Eleanor Rigby,” a medley of “A Day in the Life”/ Give Peace a Chance,” and the unmatchable piano trifecta of “Let It Be,” “Live and Let Die” (complete with a Super Bowl halftime fireworks display), and “Hey Jude” that closed the first set. The frantic soul & roll double shot of “Back in the U.S.S.R” and “I’m Down” was topped only in the second encore by the still-blistering hysterical madness of “Helter Skelter.” Who needs Rock Band: Beatles? McCartney still electrifies on command.

Set List: “Drive My Car” “Jet” “Only Mama Knows” “Flaming Pie” “Got To Get You into My Life” “Let Me Roll It” “Highway” “The Long and Winding Road” “My Love” “Blackbird” “Here Today” “Dance Tonight” “Calico Skies” “It’s so Easy” “Mrs. Vanderbilt” “Eleanor Rigby” “Sing the Changes” “Band on the Run” “Back In the USSR” “I’m Down” “Something” “I’ve Got a Feeling” “Paperback Writer” “A Day in the Life” / “Give Peace a Chance” “Let It Be” “Live and Let Die” “Hey Jude”

Encore: “Day Tripper” “Lady Madonna” “I Saw Her Standing There”

Second Encore: “Yesterday” “Helter Skelter” “Get Back” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” “The End”

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