The cheers for Paul McCartney at his KeyArena concert sounded like Beatlemania all over again. He played some Beatles hits but ranged all over the decades, from old Quarrymen tunes to his recent work with Rihanna and Kanye West.
In 1964, Paul McCartney performed “A Hard Day’s Night” for the first time in Seattle. As screams rang out when McCartney’s band played one of the most recognizable opening chords in rock ’n’ roll to kick off his show Sunday (April 17), it felt like being in the middle of Beatlemania all over again.
And that was just the first volley in a KeyArena performance that included a surprise guest and ran nearly three hours, with songs drawn from every decade of McCartney’s career.
Though he’s naturally most heralded for his work with the Beatles, the set list of the “One on One” tour displayed the broad spectrum of McCartney’s repertoire. He reached all the way back to 1958 with the country-flavored “In Spite of All the Danger,” a song from the days when the Beatles were still known as the Quarrymen. And then he was right back in the present with a solo rendition of “FourFiveSeconds,” the 2015 single he recorded with Rihanna and Kanye West.
Beatles songs took up just over half the night, and McCartney made sure to serve up more than just the hits. He sang “Here, There and Everywhere,” one of his most tender ballads, and “I’ve Got a Feeling,” a gutsy rocker from the “Let It Be” era. He also mined the post-Beatles period for lesser-known songs, appearing to have great fun with the edgy new-waver “Temporary Secretary,” from his 1980 “McCartney II” album.
McCartney was in a relaxed and chatty mood, sharing such anecdotes as recalling how nervous he was when Beatles producer George Martin had him sing a solo part on the first Beatles single, “Love Me Do.” He read aloud from the signs fans held up (“Paul for President. Thank you. I don’t think so!”), and brought one woman on stage to autograph her arm (she said she plans to make it into a tattoo).
When McCartney played in Seattle in 2013, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, the two remaining members of Nirvana, joined him on stage. Novoselic guested again this time, playing bass during the encore on a positively sizzling version of “Helter Skelter.”
McCartney’s voice showed his age (he’ll be 74 in June). His vocals were sometimes quavery in the quieter numbers, and he had difficulty hitting the high notes on songs like “Maybe I’m Amazed.” But his energy remains boundless. With his obvious love of performing and an impressive catalog to draw from, he is clearly not planning to put his touring days behind him anytime soon.