ACL Live Review: Paul McCartney

Beatle stomp

Picture a 76-year-old man, looking 20 years younger on the Jumbotron, leading a sea of humanity in singing, “Na na na nana na na nana na na, hey Jude.” You can't help but wonder if Sir James Paul McCartney CH MBE ever asks himself, “Damn! Did I write that?!”

Photo by Gary Miller

If he does, he must do that with virtually every song in his set list. The sheer amount of hits Paul McCartney lobs at you live – “From Me to You,” “Love Me Do,” “Lady Madonna,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Live & Let Die,” “Band on the Run,” “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da,” “Maybe I'm Amazed,” etc. – is dizzying. You start to wonder if the man's ever written a bad song.

He has, but he’s not playing them!

McCartney looked like a 1964 Beatles film clip retouched so he had a graying mop top: brown denim Levi's jacket, his iconic Hofner violin bass, and two old Vox Super Beatle amps behind him. Beginning with the first three songs, “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Can’t Buy Me Love” sandwiching Wings’ glam stomper “Hi Hi Hi,” Zilker Park rocked. McCartney and his expert band – guitarists Brian Ray and Rusty Anderson, drummer Abe Laboriel Jr., keyboardist Paul Wickens – loaded the set with iconic movers and shakers: “Back in the USSR,” Wings’ “Let Me Roll It,” and a “Helter Skelter” surely heavier than anything Metallica will play Saturday.

Sir Paul reminded everyone that he voiced most of the Beatles’ hardest rockers.

As the man proclaimed early on, the night was about “old songs, new songs, and in-between songs.” At least three highlights from the new Egypt Station were dropped in. The Silver Beatles’ first recording, 1958 doo wop acetate “In Spite of All the Danger,” even got aired alongside George Harrison's “Something,” arranged for ukulele. For a good chunk of the set, Macca strapped on a Les Paul and blasted raw-toned blues solos.

Then there were the piano-driven epics: “Let It Be,” “Hey Jude,” “Carry That Weight.” No “Yesterday,” no “She Loves You,” and thankfully, no “Silly Love Songs.” Yet for two hours, Paul McCartney rocked hard, while also demonstrating his historic musical range.

And he did it as casually as wearing that Levi’s jacket.

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Paul McCartney, ACL Fest 2018, ACL Music Fest 2018, Beatles, Wings, George Harrison

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