May 12, 2002
Philips Arena-Atlanta, GA


Opening "circus":

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Jeez, talk about someone having a lot to live up to and live down! Paul McCartney is both the most loved and hated member of the biggest music act in the history of the world. His contributions to popular culture actually did help to change the attitudes and opinions of the planet that we inhabit. Still, it's now 40 years since that first record was released and those four decades have been both ecstatic and traumatic for the man behind the legend. His art has soared and suffered as a result (Does anyone remember "Spies Like Us"?). Tonight, McCartney managed to represent most of that time with his set list and a video/light show that used state of the art techniques to bring a retro pop art feel to the stage. It was clear coming into the arena that the people that shelled out up to $250 per ticket wanted the '60s stuff. They had on their tie-dyes and fab four buttons. For their dollars, Paul gave them 21 Beatles songs. They also got 4 new tunes, 7 Wings songs and 4 additional solo cuts. They got their money's worth.

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Paul McCartney:

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After a slightly surreal, but too long intro involving an 18th Century Cirque Du Soleil type troop, Paul appeared silhouetted in front of a large video screen along with his famous violin shaped Hofner bass. The excitement was surprisingly muted as "Hello Goodbye" turned to a rocking "Jet." Tonight, though, only the early Beatles tunes moved the crowd to leave their seats. "All My Loving," "Can't Buy Me Love," and "I Saw Her Standing There" had 'em going all shaky, but the more obscure (Are there really any "obscure" Beatles tunes?) numbers like "Mother Nature's Son" and "Here There And Everywhere" didn't pull the same power with the majority. Personally, I preferred the unaccompanied solo versions of "You Never Give Me Your Money" and "Blackbird" to the more obvious choices. Other Beatles tunes trotted out included "Getting Better," "We Can Work It Out," "Eleanor Rigby" and too many more to mention.

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To me, the highlight of the show was "Maybe I'm Amazed." The early McCartney solo gem was fleshed out perfectly by the young band. By the time the song reached its false ending, they had pummeled the ballad into a surprisingly rocking few minutes. Paul didn't lay off on the high notes either. He screamed better than ever. The song was perhaps more important to the artist after the loss of its inspiration, his wife of nearly 30 years, Linda. He also dedicated "My Love" to her memory and to all lovers in attendance. The tributes that really touched the audience were understandably the ones to his ex-band mates. "Here Today" was done for John Lennon (this one gave me chills) and after a touching story about George Harrison's love of the ukulele, Paul played a purposefully loopy version of "Something" on one of those silly instruments given to him as a gift by George. The mixing of the poignant and the humorous is indicative of the skill and appeal that McCartney and The Beatles always possessed. By comparison, the September 11 tribute "Freedom" was less successful on multiple levels and was (intentionally) completely one-dimensional. Sure, it got fists in the air and had people singing along, but it just came off as completely contrived to be the anthem of that horrible time. I choose to believe that it’s heartfelt, but there's still something a bit icky about it. I would've much rather have heard the amazing new tune "Rinse The Raindrops," but that was not to be. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about the song choices. You can't do that at a show by someone of this magnitude. For "Live And Let Die," massive concussion bombs marked the tempo transitions with a deafening series of booms. After the song, McCartney mocked a heart attack that poked fun at his age. The truth is, he'll be sixty years old next month, and he looked amazing. He looked just like Paul McCartney. The video projected version of the man that reached the fans in the upper tiers of the arena made him look even younger as he played the same iconic bass that he used during The Beatles' touring days. He was also as funny and charming as ever. A hilarious story about "massages I have known" amply demonstrated the ease with which Paul has commanded his career. The body of the show ended with a double lighter waver. First "Let It Be" (which was almost phoned in tonight) and then the arm waving, everyone must join in finale of the "Hey Jude" "na-na-na's."

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"The Long And Winding Road" was the first encore. This found middle aged couples swaying together in embraces. "Lady Madonna" then rocked the place augmented by images of modern and historical women including Princess Diana, Frida Kahlo and female athletes for the "see how they run" bits. After "I Saw Her Standing There"  (You've got to hear an entire sold out crowd going "Woooo!" to fully appreciate that song.), Paul and the band took their Beatle trademarked bows, but it still wasn't over. "Yesterday" began the final encore. When witnessing this way beyond classic live, I have to say that it's hard to comprehend that you're hearing it performed by the actual songwriter. The closer wasn't nearly as low key. Psychedelic swirls and bubbles filled the giant screens as the "Sgt. Pepper" reprise let us know that it was "getting very near the end." Fittingly, this statement was quite literal as it segued into an extended and fairly heavy version of "The End” that culminated in a clichéd confetti drop. When the lights came up, it was like coming back from a near death experience is often described. We were all suddenly yanked back into our own lives with a bit of hesitancy, but more appreciation. For two hours and forty-five minutes in Atlanta, time disappeared. Paul McCartney wasn't just history. He was now. If indeed a splendid time was ever guaranteed for all, this was it. (Chris McKay/

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Paul McCartney Set List-Atlanta, May 12, 2002

 1. Hello Goodbye
2. Jet
3. All My Loving
4. Getting Better
5. Coming Up
6. Let Me Roll It
7. Lonely Road
8. Driving Rain
9. Your Loving Flame
10. Blackbird
11. Every Night
12. We Can Work It Out
13. Mother Nature's Son
14. Vanilla Sky
15. You Never Give Me Your Money/Carry That Weight
16. Fool On The Hill
17. Here Today
18. Something
19. Eleanor Rigby
20. Here, There And Everywhere
21. Band On The Run
22. Back In The USSR
23. Maybe I'm Amazed
24. C Moon
25. My Love
26. Can't Buy Me Love
27. Freedom
28. Live And Let Die
29. Let It Be
30. Hey Jude


31. The Long And Winding Road
32. Lady Madonna
33. I Saw Her Standing There

----encore 2---

34. Yesterday
35. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band (reprise)

36. The End