After nearly a half century in the spotlight, it's surprising to see Paul McCartney do much of anything new. How about two new things in a single night, as McCartney did while kicking off his Up and Coming Tour with a stellar sold-out show at Jobing.com Arena? Maybe I'm amazed.
The former Beatle managed to play two classic songs live for the first time on American soil in Glendale. Those songs weren't Monkberrian obscurities, either. One was "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," a hit from the Beatles studio-only years -- the Beatles' last real concert was four years before the band's split, so a few such songs exist. The other was Wings' "Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five," the closing track on the group's epic Band on the Run album. Wings toured extensively, making the fact that the song's live debut came more than 35 years after it was released something of a surprise.
Overall, McCartney's three-hour, 40-song show was fantastic. The new -- or at least new to American stages -- songs were just one part of the equation.
Taking stage in a simple black dress coat and slacks, McCartney opened the first date in this, the latest in his series of After the Alimony tours, with a trio of post-Beatles songs, including the Wings' hit "Jet." He took off his coat -- "the only costume change of the night," McCartney quipped -- for "All My Loving," the first of many Beatles songs sprinkled throughout the set.
"The Long And Winding Road" came accompanied by a backing video that showed an artfully grainy saguaro-studded desertscape. Here's hoping the other cities on the tour get the same treatment.
"Paperback Writer" also had a nice touch, as McCartney played the song on the original Epiphone he wrote it on. The backing video, a loop of artsy book covers, all bearing various Naughty Nurse-related titles, was a little weird, however.
"Live and Let Die," which packed in all the pyrotechnics most big bands spread out over an entire show, was also memorable. The ear-wax-melting explosions at the first refrain were a nice jolt two hours in to the show, and the fireworks got everyone on their feet for the "Hey Jude" sing-along that followed.
A blistering version of "Helter Skelter" and the "Sergeant Pepper's" closed things out in solid fashion.
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