Sir Paul Brings Cheers, Tears To 12,000 Fans At TaxSlayer Center
Paul McCartney is trying a few new things on this tour. One thing is playing places he never got around to in his life on the road. Enter Moline. The TaxSlayer Center holds a few sardines more than 12,000 when it's packed. And it was packed For Tuesday Night's Freshen Up Tour stop.
I tried a few new things as well. I didn't touch my phone the whole show. Not one photo, not one flashlight app, no matter how many "Na, Na, Na, Na's" were being sung. I wanted this experience to be as personal as possible. And McCartney delivered.
McCartney seemed genuinely happy to be in Moline. His banter with the crowd would have been enough, telling stories of old, introducing certain songs through the lens of the era from which they came. And when he tells about Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and George Harrison, or John (Simply John, as no one could mistake his sentiment in one of the show's highlights,) you knew the stories were first-hand accounts of when the music we all love was first being removed from the fire.
And while his stories might have been enough, each story preceded a great McCartney song, expertly performed by a band that can only be described as the best, luckiest players to ever pick up an instrument. Helping Paul on guitar were Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray, along with drummer Abe Laboriel. Union Jack-of-all-trades Paul Wickens did everything else from conducting the horns to replicating perfectly the classic keyboard sound of Wings.
McCartney brought the audience to a song he played with the Quarrymen, before Lennon/McCartney was even a thing, all the way through songs from Egypt Station, his latest album that many in the audience knew more from the carpool karaoke segment with James Cordon than from downloading the album. He accepted that his newer songs weren't as popular, but told the crowd, "We're playing them anyway," in as aw-shucks a manner as a knighted British nobleman can possibly have.
Every song was an experience. A complete assault on the senses, your mind trying to wrap itself around what your ears and eyes were telling it. He brought the crowd into the thunder with a version of 'Live and Let Die' that the members of KISS would look at and say, "Don't you think the pyro was a little over the top?" Then stripped down takes of 'Something' and 'Blackbird' brought us all the other direction, the latter reducing my wife to tears. And that's why a Paul McCartney show is worth the highest ticket prices ever charged in the little-arena-that could. You think you're going to Moline to see a show, but by time you leave, you've visited an infinite number of places.
For me personally, seeing Helter Skelter performed frantically by the guy who wrote it will be one of my lifelong concert highlights. It's as heavy as anything I've seen at a Metallica, Ozzy, or Iron Maiden show. More polite, somehow...