Monday, July 15, 2013

Rev. Paul McCartney’s Revival Meeting

This weekend Brother Beatle brought his traveling musical salvation show to the nation’s capital to try to end the rainy season and lift our spirits with the kind of rollicking music he’s been making for more than five decades. And it worked. The music was marvelous and the magic kept the children dry.

From his opening songs, Eight Days A Week and All My Lovin, he had us under his spell, which he kept going through more than two hours of ballads, up-tempo toe-tappers and hard rock riffs. His current band, while not up to the vocal harmonies of the original Boys from Liverpool, is tight and gives him such solid support; you stop comparing them to The Beatles or Wings.

Paul still has the mellow voice, the boyish good looks and charming patter that made him a heartthrob in 1963 and the musical abilities that made him a superstar songwriter and musician.

Unlike some performers who speak in three word sentences to live audiences, Paul told stories, cracked jokes and paid brief moving tributes to John and George. He told about how Jimmy Hendrix liked Sgt. Pepper so much when it was released on a Friday, he learned it in time to open his show with it on Sunday. He read an audience sign that said, “My son is named Lennon Paul Thomas,” and cracked, why didn’t you go all the way and add George and Ringo?

He talked about how George Harrison had written Something In The Way She Moves on his ukulele and winced as he said Frank Sinatra called it his favorite Lennon-McCartney song. He started the song on his uke, part of a mini-set that began with Your Mother Should Know, All Together Now, Lovely Rita Meter Maid, Eleanor Rigby and followed by Obladi Oblada, Band on the Run, Back in the USSR and Let it Be before knocking us back on our heels with an ear-popping Live and Let Die that exploded into a crescendo of fireworks.

Part way through that masterful mix of songs, I decided that things had gone beyond nostalgia and great music: I was listening to the Gospel according to Paul (and John). I don’t think they intended to do much more than move beyond skiffle tunes when they began, but the body of work in retrospect carries a fascinating philosophy. Whether it is the social observations of Lady Madonna or Eleanor Rigby(all the lonely people) or the chin-up be happy sentiments of “life goes on,” there’s an overall impact that is hard to ignore.

It got clearer as Paul took to the piano for the mournful but inspiring, Let it Be. The religious overtone is up front with Mother Mary but she fades as the burden to survive falls on us.

And when all the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree.
There will be an answer, let it be.

Things could have gotten a little heavy when he segued into “Hey Jude,” a virtual handbook for young people on how to cope with tragic change.

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better.

Then Paul the showman took over to get the audience to sing the endless chorus of Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah…Nah, Nah, Nah. All right now the men only. Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah. Now the girls, come on ladies. Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah. While we are singing, he’s pantomiming men showing off their muscles then women dancing, shaking their hips and outlining a curvy female form.

Talk about making a sad song better! He had us then and I am sure we would have followed him if he asked us to march out of the baseball stadium and head toward Capitol Hill.


  1. Frank-
    A great review. Love your them of St Paul. Yes, there is a lot more than simple skiffle-guess that's why they still move us. I heard from a friend who saw them in Indy and he too raved.
    71 looks and sounds great on a Beatleboy eh?

  2. Thanks. We were struck by his energy and his rapport with the audience.