Monday saw another impressive night of music as Paul McCartney finished up the second of two Chicago shows at Wrigley Field, part of his “On The Run” tour.
Once again playing 37 songs, Monday’s setlist saw the same solo and Wings material while several different Beatle songs were performed.
Fans attending both shows and wondering if the setlist would be any different got their answer immediately as the band (which opened with “Hello, Goodbye” on Sunday night) opted to pick up the pace out of the gate on Monday starting the show with “Magical Mystery Tour.” ”Magical Mystery Tour” led straight into “Junior’s Farm” and once again saw the Wings material performed as some of the strongest material of the evening.
McCartney’s band, anchored by drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr., tears into these songs and lends them an unexpected relevance that is impressive. All week, leading up to this pair of Chicago shows, I heard people (while complimentary of the man and his music) write off McCartney as merely a nostalgia act. It’s easy to understand. Some of the songs performed over the two nights at Wrigley are approaching fifty years old. But McCartney and his band prove through their tight and gritty performance that not only do these songs still have teeth but they remain as relevant today as anything being played on the radio. The presence of so many teens and young people in the crowd proves that there’s a lot more going on with these songs then a simple trip down memory lane. McCartney approaches these “On the Run” shows as a man not content to simply skate by on his past accomplishments.
As I met with friends Monday before the show, I was introduced to a woman named Cindy who was attending the show with her son Steve in celebration of her sixtieth birthday. Cindy asked us before the show if Paul had played “Birthday” on Sunday night and I informed her that he had not. I’m sure Cindy’s night was made when McCartney added a rollicking performance of birthday to the setlist on Monday.
Also added to the setlist for the second show was “Got to Get You Into My Life” which the band performed as video from the Beatles Rockband video game rolled on the massive video screen behind them.
On Sunday night, one of the show’s most rocking moments was an unexpected performance of “Day Tripper” and was one of the songs that I was most looking forward to hearing again on Monday. The band didn’t play it again… but they made up for it with outstanding harmonies and an impassioned lead vocal from Paul on “I’m Looking Through You.”
One of the show’s most intimate moments on Monday was another song that wasn’t performed on Sunday. ”And I Love Her” was a bit of a chance to take immediately following the more upbeat “I’m Looking Through You.” But the band gave it kind of a flamenco flare and despite being surrounded by about 45,000 other concertgoers at Wrigley Field, it felt like I was instead watching the band in the more intimate confines of a club like the Park West. Paul followed that up with a song that on Sunday night was the very epitome of a crowd sing-a-long in “Blackbird.” While it didn’t receive quite the ovation that it did on Sunday (that was a reaction the crowd was saving for “Let it Be” later on), it was nevertheless another fine moment.
On Monday night, I told friends that I was hoping to hear two Beatles songs that weren’t performed the night before: ”I Saw Her Standing There” and “I’m Down.” Well Paul obliged me on one of those two counts launching into “I Saw Her Standing There” for the final song of the first encore. I wondered if McCartney would be able to hit some of the song’s higher vocal notes… I should stop wondering about what Paul McCartney can or cannot do and just assume instead that he can until proven otherwise.
Once again, guitarist Rusty Anderson had big shoes to fill as he sang the John Lennon parts on “I’ve Got a Feeling.” That performance was again a standout, but it was actually the band’s uptempo, reggae flavored rendition of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” (and “Band on the Run” before it) that stole the show just as it did on Sunday.
While the band did work some different Beatles songs into Monday night’s set, they finished with the same second encore and closed the show with “Yesterday,” “Helter Skelter,” and “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End.”
Getting the opportunity to hear six more Beatles songs on Monday night made attending both shows worth it. That said, the same solo, Wings and Fireman material (and in pretty much the same order) was performed during Monday’s show. Tributes to Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon and George Harrison were also performed again.
Paul McCartney wraps up his “On The Run” tour Thursday at The Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.