The Solo Project: Paul McCartney, Cincinnati, 8/4/11

Photo courtesy The Enquirer/Joseph E. Keating.

Paul McCartney took his On The Run tour to Cincinnati, and Tyler was in attendance.  Here, in a more personal and slightly hysterical edition of The Solo Project, is a review of the show.

So, to begin with, Jesus Christ.  I saw McCartney in St. Louis in 2001 as he toured behind the throughly adequate album Driving Rain. The show was a blast, a fantastic time, but larded with too much Paul schtick (an endless Cirque du Soleil-style “opening act”) and likable, unexciting material from Rain.  Also, he played fucking “Freedom,” which is unacceptable.

Not so last night.  Fifteen minutes after the scheduled start time of 8 PM, McCartney and his longtime backing band (they played that St. Louis show, as well) strolled onto the stage, sat at or shouldered their instruments, and charged into “Hello Goodbye.”  It would only get better from there.

SET LIST (annotated)

“Hello Goodbye”

Is this anybody’s favorite Beatles song, or even Paul song?  I’m sure there’s somebody out there, but it’s never been more than “Oh, yeah, of course, who doesn’t love that one” material.  Then again, I am a snob and a nerd and I rolled my eyes a little at the Paulness of opening with what is possibly the most obvious opening song in the history of music.

This would mark the low point of the concert.  Which is to say, who cares, as it sounded great and got the packed ballpark into it.

“Junior’s Farm”

Here we go.  I thought at first that it was “Helen Wheels,” but this was even better.  A Wings single from 1974, “Junior’s Farm” is a forgotten little pile-driver, and hearing it assured me that unexpected treats were in fact in store.  (I went in blind, having plugged my eyes and ears to setlists and the raves of friends who attended other concerts on this tour.)

“All My Loving”



“Jet” is the shit, no matter how many times you’ve heard it.  That said, the video display of a cheap CGI airplane zooming out the word “Jet” in cursive exhaust was a bit much.  Still.  JET!  WHOO-OO-OO-OO-OO-OOH-OO-OO-OOH

“Drive My Car”

A little more lame-o video business.  (Can you guess what was on the screen???  I’ll tell you.  Cars.)  “Drive My Car” is another one that maybe I’ve heard a few times too many–it does lead off Rubber Soul, one of the very best Beatle albums, and a personal favorite–but, again, who cares, as it sounded sweet.  And, an armload of hits under the belt, things would only get more interesting from here.

“Sing The Changes”

Not technically a McCartney song, but rather an offering from his side project, the electro-pop collaborate The Fireman.  It’s a sweet tune, almost nobody in the audience had probably heard it before, and the crowd was only getting wilder.  With good reason.

“The Night Before”

The first of a few texts I’ll fly in, as they sum it up better than this recap business.  “THE NIGHT BEFORE OH MY GOD”

“Let Me Roll It/Foxy Lady”

“Let Me Roll It” has been played at pretty much every McCartney concert since it was released, and will probably somehow be played at McCartney concerts after McCartney is dead.  (“He already is!!” Ha, ha, ha.)  A hell of a tune, a tribute/backhand to John (it’s written in Lennon’s Spectory early-’70s style), it got very much goosed by some absolute shredding on lead guitar by Paul, which led to the fucking awesome instrumental coda of “Foxy Lady.”

“Paperback Writer”

Honestly, I’ve never thought “Paperback Writer” was all that great.  Naturally, a certain somebody was very much excited.

“The Long And Winding Road”

YES!  Get it out of the way.

“Nineteen Hundred And Eighty-Five”

I didn’t text anybody about this, as I think I’m the only one of my friends who knows it by title, but had I texted, it would have looked something like “NINETEEN HUNDRED AND EIGHTYFIVE YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME AHHHHH”

“Let ‘Em In”

Well, I mean, you have to.  And “Let ‘Em In” is fun!

“Maybe I’m Amazed”

Again, a no-brainer.  Also, one of the best songs the guy has ever written.

“I’ve Just Seen A Face”

YES!  AMAZING!  Buried on Help! and recorded on the same day as “I’m Down” and “Yesterday” (!!), “I’ve Just Seen A Face” ranks among the most underappreciated, unknown Paul album tracks.  Or, as I told friends at the time, “‘I’ve Just Seen A Face.’ …………………………..”

“I Will”

“I Will!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”


Unimpeachable.  McCartney prefaced it by explaining that it was written about the civil rights movement, which is good, as I believe most people think “Blackbird” is about an actual blackbird.

“Here Today”

The closest I’ve ever come to crying at a concert.  Possibly my favorite Paul tune, his devastating tribute to John from 1982’s Tug Of War.

“Dance Tonight”

“DANCE TONIGHT”.  Also, Paul’s drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr., also known as “fat Darius Rucker” and “the guy who makes these shows awesome that isn’t Paul McCartney,” did the Macarena throughout.  I wondered to myself “where the hell in this ballpark did these guys find a place to get so fucking high?”, but then I remembered that God himself couldn’t tell a Beatle to put out that joint.

“Mrs. Vandebilt”


“Eleanor Rigby”

A certain somebody who didn’t really want to go to the concert started tearing up at this point.


Said certain somebody started crying.  Paul has performed “Something” ever since George died in 2001, and he plays it always on a ukelele Harrison gave him before his death.  It is just the loveliest.

“Band On The Run”

Never gets old, ever, so don’t even try.  So awesome.

“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”

Really!  Didn’t expect this.  Everybody loves “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” though my opinion is somewhat tempered by the fact that the other Beatles utterly fucking hated it.  Last night’s rendition was lively and joyous, delivered with full-band power, as opposed to the ramshackle clatter of the original recording.  (Fun fact: McCartney, whose obsessive perfectionism both kept the Beatles together and helped tear them apart, made the boys record this song an endless amount of times in the studio.  The take that made The White Album?  Recorded in one go–so they say–after John barreled into the studio, drunk as drunk can be, hollered “ALRIGHT, WE’RE GONNA DO ‘OB-LA-DI, OB-LA-DA!” and pounded out the piano riff that begins the song.)

“Back In The U.S.S.R.”

Cue story about Paul visiting the Soviet Union and meeting a closeted-fan member of Parliament!  Or whatever the hell it was called over there.

“I’ve Got A Feeling”

Ah, man.  One of Let It Be‘s best, and a song you don’t expect to hear at a McCartney concert, as it’s half-John.  One of Paul’s guitarists–the one we deemed “Jane Lynch meets Rutger Hauer”–took over the Lennon vocals, and, Lord, did it sound sweet.

“A Day In The Life/Give Peace A Chance”


“Let It Be”

Of course.

“Live And Let Die”

Woo-hoo!  PYROTECHNICS!  Whatever.  “Live And Let Die” kicks ass and is probably the best Bond theme song.

“Hey Jude”



“Lady Madonna”

I am proud to declare that I called this.  I fucking love “Lady Madonna.”

“Day Tripper”

Eh, never a favorite.

“Get Back”




Thank God.  Sometimes, you need to hear a song in a fresh light to remember why it is a classic.  Paul alone on acoustic, center stage, before a rapt crowd, forty-six years after the song was recorded and released?  That qualifies as “a fresh light.”

“Helter Skelter”

Madness.  Mayhem.  Loud guitars lights drums I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY’RE ACTUALLY PLAYING “HELTER SKELTER!!!!”

“Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End”

The first Beatle-album proper that I owned was Abbey Road.  Pretty much all you need to know.  Also, The Beatles’ “The End” is better than The Doors’.

11 thoughts on “The Solo Project: Paul McCartney, Cincinnati, 8/4/11

  1. A certain somebody doesn’t like it so much when any kind of reference to them shows up on the Internet thanks to myself. Thus, “a certain somebody.”

  2. Also, I just couldn’t get over the substitution of synthesizer for strings for Eleanor Rigby. That just completely ruined it for me. Dude has 40 semi’s worth of tour equipment and couldn’t spring for a string quartet?

  3. I fucking hate the synths too, but if you bring in a quartet, you gotta have them out there for more than one song. I’m willing to let it slide, as his backing band is so fucking tight.

  4. Strangely enough, I watched a Frank Sinatra concert on PBS last night, and he also did “Something.” Apparently, you guys are all 60, and I am 74. Stay tuned for my upcoming TV review of Lawrence Welk.

  5. Best opening song to a concert I’ve ever attended — “Back in the Saddle” by Aerosmith after Joe Perry and Brad Whitford rejoined the band during the Rock in a Hard Place tour.

    Paul pulled out some rarely played gems for this show.

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