Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"A guy I knew way back when…"

“Sitting in the stand of the sports arena waiting for the show to begin. Red lights, green lights, strawberry wine, a good friend of mine follows the stars, Venus and Mars Are alright tonight. … What's that man holding in his hand? He looks a lot like a guy I knew way back when…”.

August 18, 2010 was magical. When the announcement was made that Paul McCartney was going to be the first concert for the new Pittsburgh CONSOL Energy Center, I knew I had to be there. I am his biggest fan. Since 1964 when they all appeared for the first time on the Ed Sullivan Show and I was sprawled in front of the black and white picture tube. I never had an opportunity to see The Beatles at a live concert, so I was definitely going and made plans with my friend, Jen. After months of anticipation, the day finally came.

We left early (3:30!) to beat the 16,000 fans that were converging on my parking spot. The doors opened at 6—well, not exactly. The loudspeaker voice announced that Paul’s plane was delayed in Newark. Obviously, airlines don’t care who they delay! We ate some munchies at the Marriott bar then stood in front of the arena doors panting in the heat and chomping at the bit for the doors to open into Paul-land. He was still doing his sound check. Finally, at 6:40, the doors opened and we made our way up the escalator to purchase mandatory concert T-shirts and bottles of water. We were ready. We were excited. We were going to hyperventilate!

Ushered down to our seats, they were on the side of the stage only about 100 feet from Paul! After looking at my watch every two minutes, finally at 8:23 he and his band walked unassumingly onto a smokey blue-lit stage. The roaring crowd was on their feet as the stagehand gave him his guitar. It felt surreal. I felt pure joy. The smile never left my face as he started with Venus And Mars/Rock Show and after that, Jet! He addressed the audience saying “We are the first people to play here—and you are the first people to watch us play here, I think we look pretty cool.” His next song was All My Loving. I could hardly believe it! I would listen to this on my A.M. radio as a teenager and now I was in the same room with Paul McCartney! My future husband for over 40 years—I felt truly in awe of this rock and roll legend. He was the cute Beatle—my favorite fantasy.

He played 39 songs, 22 of them Beatles classics. We sang along because we knew every word to every song! Occasionally Jen would look at him, point and say “That’s Paul McCartney!” I only cried twice—once when he sang a tribute to George, and then the tribute to John. When he sang Give Peace a Chance the audience was as one, and Live and Let Die came with fireworks! He played several guitars and explained why to the audience in his usual Paul sense of humor “We’re just showing off”! Three uninterrupted hours later, at the piano, he had the whole house singing and arm-waving ….NaNaNaNa, Hey Jude. The band took a Beatles-style unison bow and walked off stage. Roaring and clapping brought them back for one of the two encores starting with Day Tripper, Lady Madonna, and then Get Back. Coming back for the second encore Paul said, “You just don’t want to stop, do you”? He sang Yesterday and rocked the screaming house with Helter Skelter. The final encore was Sargent Peppers reprise, “….we hope that you’ve enjoyed the show…” and then The End, “…and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”. I felt pure happiness and satisfaction, still unbelieving that I was actually there—it felt like a dream, and now a cherished memory. Thanks for the magic, Sir Paul …P.S. I love you.

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