Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
Paul McCartney wisely named his tour Got Back 2022. After all, this was a long-time coming. Thank you COVID. Yup. The Beatle was back at Fenway for Get Back and songs old and new for a fun, enjoyable evening.
Less than two weeks before his 80th birthday, McCartney remains in exceedingly good shape. There's some gray in his hair and a few crinkles on his face, but his charm and charisma are ever present. He was easy going and affable. No big ego here. He called out one fan near the front who was at his 128th McCartney show ("a little obsessive," McCartney opined jokingly before thanking him).
McCartney engaged the crowd to help out on "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," one of the highlights of the evening.
As for his voice, well, it's not what it used to be – even last time at Fenway. It's definitely weathered a bit, certainly not as warm as it used to be and not able to reach the high notes. Nor did he even try as he left smartly left that in the hands of his trusty bandmates.
But he seemed more sure voiced as the 160-minute show wore on.
As McCartney is wont to do, he reminisced about specific moments of being in The Beatles, spinning a few stories to make the moments come alive. For example, in one of the true highlights of the night, McCartney trotted out his ukulele, saying it was a gift from George Harrison. McCartney recalled playing together at Harrison's house. With that, McCartney began a startling version of "Something" before the band eventually kicked in.
He put the "Foxy Lady" coda from Jimi Hendrix onto "Let Me Roll It" before telling a story about Hendrix learning "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" within two days of its release and playing it that Sunday at a London gig.
McCartney reached way way back (he really "got back") for a song from his pre-Beatles band, The Quarrymen. The quintet, which included John and George, paid one pound each to do the recording, which they then passed around to each other to hold onto for one week apiece. Only problem was that drummer John "Duff" Lowe kept it for 25 years with McCartney saying that he paid a premium to get the recording back. (Lowe was going to auction it off). The song likely was unknown to most, but decades later, it sure sounded quite good.
McCartney would later pay tribute to John Lennon with the first encore song, "I've Got a Feeling." Thanks to director Peter Jackson, who did the "Get Back" documentary last year, a snippet of John singing from the 1969 rooftop concert in London was displayed on the screens.
This was not a night of McCartney only playing the tried and true. In fact, it was most surprising that he did not play "Yesterday," among others.
But as McCartney said sitting behind the organ before playing "New" in a non-snarky way that when they played Beatles songs, the audience "lights up If we do a new song, it's a black hole. But we don't care. We're going to do it anyway."
And he stuck to his word with songs from four of his last five albums, including "My Valentine," dedicated to his wife, Nancy, who was in the house (two songs later, he would play "Maybe I'm Amazed" about his late first wife, Linda). Surprisingly, he played nothing from his most recent effort, "McCartney III," from 2020.
Yes, the newer material was not going to stand up to the chestnuts of yesteryear – how could it? – but credit to McCartney for believing in his more recent songs as well and doing what he wanted to do.
He also believes in his band, and he should with long-time drummer Abe Laboriel Jr., guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Way, keyboardist/accordionist Paul "Wix" Wickens and the appropriately named Hot City Horns.
As the evening came to a close, McCartney did rely on the surefire songs with a run of "Band on the Run," "Let It Be," "Live and Let Die" with gorgeous fireworks brightening the night sky and a lengthy "Hey Jude" with the crowd, of course, singing the "Nah nah" part to close out the regular set.
And with "Gold Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End" spliced together for the rousing closing, this night of Beatle royalty made you glad that Paul McCartney Got Back.