Sir Paul McCartney made history with his first party in Spokane last night (Thursday, April 28). It was a concert that included a “duet” with John Lennon – thanks to electronic magic – and huge cheers. When the Beatles legend waved the Ukrainian flag.
It was McCartney’s first concert since the summer of 2019. When he first took to the stage, the 79-year-old had to pause for a moment, seemingly swayed by feelings of getting back on the road – amid a pandemic that has devastated and upended a lot, not least with live music.
They said, “Come back,” we promised. “It feels great,” he said. “You have to give me a moment to myself, just to let me absorb that.”
It was one of several moments during the opening concert of his “Got Back” tour, which consisted of 16 stops before his main performance at Glastonbury Festival on June 25 (which fell a week after his 80th birthday).
“How are you, Spokane?” McCartney asked. “I think we’ll have a good night.”
And they did. McCartney never got to show off on stage to someone like Mick Jagger, but his performance was outstanding in many ways. The set included his first-ever live performance of the entirety of “You Never Give Me Your Money,” a song that comes at the end of Side Two of Abby’s Road, the Beatles’ last recording together. He also played “In spite of all the danger,” an abstract tune he once performed with The Quarrymen, the group that preceded the Beatles.
While people were amazed at how far-reaching McCartney’s voice could reach, the seventy-year-old was very mobile when that voice didn’t quite reach the tones it had before.
“A lot of people are trying to learn this ‘Blackbird’ song,” he said sweetly before he started playing. “And you all get it wrong.”
Someone felt the similarity when he and his band returned to the stage for an encore, and the former Beatles were getting cheers by waving a huge Ukraine flag. “We have something special for you,” he said.
And so they did, performing “I Have a Feeling”, in which John Lennon sang along with a work get back Director Peter Jackson. A highlight of the documentary is the concert they gave on January 30, 1969, on the rooftop of Apple Corps headquarters in London at 3 Savile Row. The once grainy shots are embellished with deep colors and tones.
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“Peter Jackson said ‘I can pull John’s voice back if you want to,’” McCartney told the audience.
And so they played together, McCartney—his long gray hair—and Lennon, who was shot dead in New York City on December 8, 1980, for a moment as if they had avoided that fatal confrontation with obsessed cheerleader Mark David Chapman. He’s back with his band again, on a happy but bitter January afternoon, performing as he did, the Beatles’ last live performance.
The city of Spokane, with a population of 220,000, is located about 300 miles east of Seattle and 90 miles from the border with Canada. Although it’s the second largest city in Washington state, it has something of a country town feel—notably more conservative than the liberal city of Seattle. Are people surprised that he plays here, filling the 8,000-seat Spokane Arena?
“I am not surprised. We had Elton John here and Rod Stewart,” said Mary Mitchell, 58, originally from Montana, who was at the party with her London-born husband, Stephen.
Another couple in the audience, Debbie and Jim Bangs, 70, said they had previously seen McCartney in Missoula, Montana, when he performed at an outdoor festival in 2014.
“He loves trying out these little places,” Debbie, who had hoped McCartney would play her favorite song, “Birthday,” noted.
Jim was required to have McCartney perform “Till There Was You,” a song originally written and performed by Meredith Wilson, which the Beatles covered and included on their 1963 album, with the Beatles. Jim said he used to sing it to their son when he was a baby. This time, McCartney didn’t include it in his repertoire, but he played “Get Back,” another favorite.
Officials said tickets for the show sold out within minutes.
“People are very excited,” city spokesman Brian Coddington said before the ceremony.
“It’s a great opportunity to help Paul McCartney start his tour and also show our community to the world,” he added.
McCartney and his band played for over two hours and two hours, working their way through the 36-track track list.
“Thank you,” McCartney said. “Thank you.”