When writing professionally, I almost never refer to myself, but I will here. Since seeing my first concerts, The Yellow Balloon at a car show at the old Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles in 1967, and Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band at the San Gabriel Civic in 1968, I guess I've probably seen close to 2,000 shows (heck, I've seen Jethro Tull/Ian Anderson 72 times, The Kinks & Eric Clapton each more than 50 times) - and this was my 12th Paul McCartney concert.
After all those years and all those concerts, I have never heard so many people say the same thing about one show: McCartney's Dodger Stadium concert Sunday night was the best concert they have ever seen. From people I spoke with and overheard while walking out of the stadium, to the people on the Dodgers shuttle bus to the Facebook comments and emails I received, the voluminous number of reviews were pretty much unanimous.
Conrad Pujdak of Monrovia is a high school classmate of mine and on his Facebook page he summed up what I heard from so many: "The show was a spectacular blend of The Beatles, Wings and his later works, but I felt like I was given the chance to experience a moment with The Beatles as well... It was the best concert I have seen."
McCartney, still robust at 72 years old (although his voice was at times hoarse, thin and quavering), continues to perform three-hour shows delivering more than three dozen songs, backed by the four musicians he's used since 2001.
There's a group of classics he does every night and everyone knows them (after 41 years, it's well past time to drop "Let Me Roll It" for something else like "Back Seat of My Car," "Wanderlust" or a fun "Sally G," etc.). So extensive is his catalog that on each tour he can slip in a nifty handful of songs he either hasn't performed in decades or has never performed.
For this current Out There Tour, the first-timers include the concert opener, "Eight Days a Week," that neither he nor The Beatles had ever played live before (the closest The Beatles got to performing it was when they lip synced to a recording of the song during a 1965 appearance on Britain's "Thank Your Lucky Stars" TV variety series).
Other debut performances on the tour include John Lennon's "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" and "Lovely Rita," both from "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" in 1967, his 1971 worldwide Top 5 hit "Another Day," and the kiddie ditty "All Together Now" that closes The Beatles 1968 animated film, "Yellow Submarine."
He's also showcasing songs he hasn't performed very often (or in years), including the Wings hits, "Listen to What the Man Said" and "Hi, Hi, Hi," for the first time since his first Beatles U.S. jaunt, "Wings Over America," in 1976; the pounding 1965 Beatles single, "Day Tripper," "And I Love Her," from 1964's "A Hard Day's Night;" and "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" from 1968's "White Album."
He sang the songs of tribute to the departed Beatles that he's been featuring live since 2002, "Here Today" for John and "George's "Something" (both versions were particularly effective) as well as to first wife, Linda ("Maybe I'm Amazed"), and the current Mrs. McCartney, Nancy (the 2012 "My Valentine" that should be a standard in a few years).
It's worth noting that during "The Long and Winding Road," a song of longing and tears, the visuals on the giant stage backdrop were of the Arizona desert were of the McCartney family ranch outside Tucson, a subtle reminder that this was Linda's favorite place. It was the place she died after a heroic battle with cancer at 56 in 1998.
Was McCartney's Dodger Stadium show the best concert ever? A whole lot of people who were there certainly thought so.
Among the recently released albums, digital reissues, MP3 downloads and box sets are the 12-song "Rockabilly Riot! All Original" from former Stray Cat singer-guitarist Brian Setzer; "I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss" is the 12th studio album in 27 years from 47-year-old Irish alt folk and pop-rocker Sinead O'Connor; a 6-CD set, "Close-Up Series," is from alt folk-rocker Suzanne Vega; and a reissue of "The Best of The Animals" features 15 cuts from the classic U.K. version of the legendary British Invasion blues-rockers, including "House of the Rising Sun," "It's My Life" and John Lee Hooker's 1961 "Boom Boom."
A DVD, "Devo - Men Who Make The Music/Butch Devo & The Sundance Gig" includes concert footage from the new wave synth-poppers 1978 tour and its 1996 closing set at the 1996 Sundance fest; The "Complete Recorded Works 1952-62 (6 CD)" set from the country music duo, The Louvin Brothers, called by the New York Times, "the most influential harmony team in the history of country music," who performed and recorded together from 1940-1963, when Charlie Louvin had enough of brother Ira's drinking and abusive behavior and went solo (Ira died in 1965 at 41 when his car was hit by a drunk driver, while Charlie died of pancreatic cancer in 2011 at 83).
A 4-CD set, "Complete Recordings: 1956-1962" from jazz reedman Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who died from a stroke in 1977 immediately after a concert at age 41, includes his work with Quincy Jones, Brit jazzman Tubby Hayes and Roy Haynes and his takes on "Story Weather," "Fly Me To The Moon" and "A Taste of Honey" that was popularized by The Beatles in 1963 and Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass in 1965.
Steve Smith writes a new Classic Pop, Rock and Country Music News column every week. Contact him by email at Classicpopmusicnews@gmail.com.