Friday, December 02, 2005

"You look just like a little kid. Are you gonna pee?" Child-like euphoria, 40 years of memories & Macca in concert

Paul McCartney in Concert, Staples Center, Los Angeles, Nov. 29, 2005.

This summer, while returning from a Devo concert, I proudly wore my energy dome. (It cost $30 bucks.I tell you, there’s big money in retro-punk.) A curious cabdriver pulled up beside us. Perplexed by the red plastic contraption on my head, he blurted out to my boyfriend, who was driving, "Is that a pot on her head?” This question has taken on legendary proportions in our household. My BF even has a pic of me wearing an energy dome on his cell phone with the caption “Is that a pot on her head?”

While not as funny as the Devo “pothead” remark, my boyfriend did note that I looked so happy and awestruck as Paul McCartney took the stage at Staples Center last Tuesday that he commented “You look like a little kid. Are you gonna pee?” This carries much more historical significance than the Devo comment, which is merely humorous. My boyfriend is somewhat experienced in all Beatles related endeavors, having seen Paulie in concert before and having met Paul, Ringo and George in person. His Mom took him to see John Lennon in concert in Madison Square Garden when he was a kid. As for me, seeing Paul in concert for the first time after forty years of Beatles and Macca fandom is not merely a musical experience. It is the equivalent (in a good way) of “seeing my life pass before my eyes.” Of course I'm going to get emotional finally seeing and hearing him play the songs that saved my childhood. I’m going to remember the first time I saw the “video” for Penny Lane on American Bandstand , tear up when I hear The Long And Winding Road, which was a hit around the time my parents separated, or remember how I used to use the bed as a trampoline every time I heard Helter Skelter.

The first clue that this wasn’t my usual hip concert was the fact that folks my age or older filed into the loge, carrying tons of concessions with them.. They don’t sell that many burritos at the Lakers games! "What was the crowd like?” my smart-ass cousin April asked, “I envision a lot of people with canes smoking pot.”
“Are you sure you weren’t there?” I replied.
Wait a few years and the people with canes will be replaced by people in oxygen tents. Not sure they’ll still be smoking pot then.

The overhead screen projected some of Paul’s colorful abstract artwork prior to the show. Which started a little late with a masked DJ spinning covers of Beatles songs. There was some speculation among binocular wielding loge fans that this was Paul in disguise but was not. The show began with non-descript set by DJ Freelance Hellraiser. This was followed by 10 minute film of Paulie and Beatles, which featured some rare photo collages. Once the curtain comes up, there’s Paulie and the band, who start the show with Magical Mystery Tour. From where I was sitting, I couldn’t see him close-up but I knew it was him. And there was the screen above the stage to define things a bit and give me a close-up of Paul’s puppy dog eyes. Yeah, he didn’t opt for a facelift and, at the wrong angle, he looks his age. But he still retains that boyish Liverpudlian charm. Thank God for those screens. Back in my day, (cue Dana Carvey’s grumpy old man), "They didn’t have screens and we had to squint through binoculars from the balcony and we liked it!"

It really doesn’t matter what songs he played. There are too many to choose from and they’re all perfect. The set list at the Staples included Drive My Car, Til There Was You, Long And Winding Road, Band On The Run, Live And Let Die, Hey Jude, Let It Be, Fixing A Hole, Good Day Sunshine and about 30 other songs. The acoustic set included the Quarrymen song In spite Of All The Danger, which was bought back from former bandmate John "Duff" Lowe, after 25 years. "We all shared the cost of recording. I had it (the record) for a week, John then had it for a week, then George had it for a week, then Colin had it for a week, then Duff had it for 25 years," Paul explains.

Paul engaged in a lot of between song banter. He told a story about why he decided to use I Will as part of the set again. When a fan he met at a Mexican restaurant in Pasadena told him that his teen-age daughter was performing the song at a talent show, Paul decided to add the song to the show. When a fan on the main floor held up a sign that read “My mom saw you at Candlestick Park " while Paul played the new song Jenny Wren. When the band finished the song, Paul said,“You know, this is a new song so you’re trying to concentrate on the chords with one part of your mind and then you see a sign and one part of your mind is trying to read the sign. So if there are any mistakes, it’s your fault," he joked to the signholder.

Paul’s charismatic band was prominently featured, including drummer Abe, keyboard/music director Wix, drummer Abe and guitarists Rusty and Brian. A wonderful playful evening and no, I didn’t pee, but I did cry a little at times--in a good way.