By Simone Goldstone | NB Indy Soundcheck Columnist
“It’s like I brought John on tour with me,” Paul McCartney joked on May 13 during his concert at Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium.
Director Peter Jackson, the genius behind the Beatles documentary “Get Back,” ensured the Beatles “got back” together for Sir Paul McCartney’s 2022 tour.
New technology has granted Jackson the ability to isolate the vocals and images of John Lennon, allowing McCartney to duet on the famous rooftop version of “I’ve Got a Feeling” on tour for the first time in history.
McCartney’s “Got Back” tour is all about keeping the spirit of the Fab Four alive and together. The past is never far behind—McCartney even sported Beatle Boots for the concert.
Back turned to the audience, McCartney focused on the images of Lennon on that fateful rooftop during the performance of “I’ve Got a Feeling.” The duet seemed to be for McCartney as much as for the fans. Hasn’t anyone whose lost somebody close to them wish they could go back and relive a moment together? The audience watched that happen in real time as Paul and John got back together once again.
In addition to recreating the iconic duet, McCartney dedicated a stellar version of Harrison’s hit “Something” to the humanitarian lead guitarist.
“George was a great ukulele player,” said McCartney as he introduced the well-loved song, as images of George and Paul ranging from their Hamburg days to “Get Back” took center stage.
For partner-in-songwriting Lennon, McCartney got in tune with his feelings.
“We were trying to be hard and tough, so we couldn’t just tell each other ‘Hey man, I love you,’” McCartney admits mournfully, “Tell those close to you that you love them while you can.” The bassist went on to play “Here Today” for Lennon.
Starting with “Can’t Buy Me Love” the feeling of being at a Beatles concert tore through the football stadium. A brass section trotted on stage and entertained the audience with their synchronized dancing and superb playing all night long.
Lennon might have been the funny one, but McCartney certainly has his moments. He charmed the crowd with his humor. “This one is definitely not a new one,” he quipped before launching into the upbeat hit “Got to Get You into My Life.”
Switching his bass for a guitar – because Paul can do it all – the legend regaled the crowd with a story of Jimi Hendrix.
“He was such as nice, humble guy. and two days after we released ‘Sgt. Pepper,’ he opened his act with it,” McCartney said with a gleam in his eye, “He really gave it the whammy bar, so at the end of the number [the guitar] was wildly out of tune!”
In those days, one couldn’t simply switch their guitar for another one waiting in the wings, so Hendrix pulled a reluctant Eric Clapton out of the audience to tune his guitar back to proper form.
Hopping on the piano, McCartney doled out a wonderful rendition of “Let ‘Em In.” The Beatle dedicated “Valentine” to his wife Nancy, who was in the audience that night. In the theme of love songs, “Maybe I’m Amazed,” was backed by the famous photo of McCartney on his Scottish farm, with baby Mary tucked into his jacket. The icon is just like any other proud grandfather: “That little baby in my jacket now has four little babies of her own,” the legend beamed.
McCartney then took the crowd for a trip down memory lane. Before Paul, John, and George were the Beatles, they were the Quarrymen. Dressed as Teddy Boys, the group recorded their first demo hoping to get more gigs, a simple but compelling song called “In Spite of All the Danger.”
Performing the song live, the haunting tune carried with it the spirit of McCartney’s late friends, not as world famous stars, but young boys goofing about, having fun with their musical creations.
The next tale is of producer George Martin: “He must have been a pretty good producer, because he produced all the Beatles records,” joked McCartney. Martin had asked McCartney to sing the “love me do,” part of the titular song so Lennon could hit the harmonica note on the “do.”
“Even to this day, when I hear the song, I can hear the fear in my voice,” the legend laughed.
Continuing to leave his legacy, McCartney awed the crowd with “Blackbird.” Watching the bassist play his fabled tune was akin to seeing the Grand Canyon—the sight of it almost can’t comprehend its magnificence.
You never know how many more times you can hear McCartney’s biggest classics live, so the night was about squeezing out every drop of magic possible.
“You Never Give Me Your Money” was followed by “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window.” For “Let It Be,” the stadium filled up with phone lights, resembling a galaxy. After the emotional anthem, “Band on the Run” re-energized the crowd. The Pyrotechnics of “Live and Let Die” stunned the audience. The fireworks and flames created enough ignition to heat up the air several degrees.
During “Hey Jude,” signs in the audience shown on the big screen and ranged from a series of “Na Na Nas” to “Paul, your bass playing gives me deep, deep feelings.”
The “Abbey Road” medley closed out the night. During “In the End,” the three-way guitar solos of Lennon, Harrison, and McCartney were re-enacted by McCartney’s band. The informal guitar duel starts with Paul’s technical solo, followed by Harrison’s bright, singing tone, and finally Lennon’s raunchy, heavy low register.
It is the sound of three carefree friends having fun making music, just as they did as teenagers with “In Spite of All the Danger.” Decades down the line, Paul plays the solos with his band, evoking their memory and bringing the band together again.
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make” rang out into the Los Angeles night as McCartney disappeared into a cloud of smoke and confetti.
This tour, like no other, has brought the Beatles back together.