Sir Paul McCartney rocks Wrigley Field on Sunday night. (Photo by Al Yellon)
Paul McCartney strode out to play music on a Chicago baseball field. The White Sox were desperately trying to stay in contention in the American League, while the Cubs were playing out the string in yet another miserable losing season.
Sunday night at Wrigley Field? No, that describes perfectly the situation on August 20, 1965, when Paul and the Beatles played their only Chicago baseball stadium concert date, at the old Comiskey Park on the South Side of Chicago. In fact, they played two shows that summer Friday, at 3:30 and 8 p.m.; here's some rare black and white newsreel footage from that day.
Sunday night at Wrigley Field, the crowd was a bit older, grayer and paunchier (this writer included) when the lights came up on the massive stage that took up most of center field and dwarfed the scoreboard to reveal a 69-year-old McCartney and the band that's backed him up for the last several tours. The band, which includes Paul "Wix" Wickens (keyboards, guitar, percussion, harmonica, backing vocals), Rusty Anderson (guitar, backing vocals), Abe Laboriel Jr. (drums, backing vocals) and Brian Ray (guitar, bass, backing vocals) isn't the Beatles... but during Beatles tunes, close your eyes for a moment and you can almost feel yourself transported to that 1965 Beatles concert (minus the screaming, of course).
McCartney, you can tell from the moment he begins his set, just loves to play music and engage with people who love music. He may be approaching 70, but the youthful glint that captivated screaming teenagers in the 1960s is still in his eyes and he can still hit the high notes on songs like "Maybe I'm Amazed" and "Let It Be". The best single word to describe a Paul show is "fun". He clearly enjoys every moment, and that makes the experience memorable. It was perhaps the best of several Wrigley concerts in recent years, featuring shows by The Police and the Dave Matthews Band. Wrigley's beginning to host many non-baseball events, including the 2009 NHL Winter Classic and a college football game between Northwestern and Illinois last fall.
Paul's "On The Run" tour is, at least so far, a fairly exclusive one, playing just four baseball stadiums in the USA, none of which he had ever played before: the new Yankee Stadium (where he quipped, "Who's this Derek Jeter guy? I hear he has more hits than me."), the Tigers' Comerica Park in Detroit, two shows at Wrigley Field (a place he reportedly had been wanting to play for many years), and Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, home of the Reds. He may not have that many tour years left, though he did leave Wrigley Sunday night saying, "We'll see you next time!", so if you get a chance to see this living legend live, don't hesitate. The show is high-energy and rocks for almost three hours.
All My Loving
Drive My Car
Sing The Changes
The Night Before
Let Me Roll It
The Long And Winding Road
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
Let 'Em In
Maybe I'm Amazed
I've Just Seen a Face
Band on the Run
Back in the USSR
I've Got A Feeling
A Day In The Life/Give Peace a Chance
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Carry That Weight