ORLANDO, Fla. – Beatlemania swept through Orlando Saturday night when Sir Paul McCartney “Got Back” on stage to the roars and cheers of fans from every generation, a din of pure delight hanging over his long-awaited return.
The 79-year-old music legend proved on his Florida tour stop, as he has time and time again, Paul — much like rock n’ roll — is not dead.
Thousands upon thousands burst into song and tears during the nearly three-hour set at Camping World Stadium, swaying to the sound of the collective crowd as they joined in on Beatles favorites like “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and sang along to songs off his most recent albums, “Egypt Station” and “McCartney III,” the successor to McCartney’s 1970 and 1980 self-titled works.
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Every era of Paul was on display in the stories and songs weaved throughout his set list — from the early days of The Beatles to the height of Wings to his most recent solo work — as he perfectly balanced the art of timelessness and keeping up with the times.
The legacy of Linda McCartney, his first wife who died of breast cancer in 1998, even lived on in a slideshow of pictures before the concert, which cycled through the couple and their children on their Scottish family farm, along with other closeup photos of McCartney through all stages of life.
Alongside his band, comprised of Paul “Wix” Wickens on keyboards, Brian Ray on bass and guitar, Rusty Anderson on guitar and Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums, McCartney dazzled with a discography spanning decades, giving behind the scenes glimpses into the stories behind the songs, like “Blackbird,” penned during America’s civil rights movement in the ‘60s, “Here Today,” a tribute to what the singer wish he said to John Lennon before he died, and “Something,” which he skillfully strummed on ukulele in honor of George Harrison’s love of the instrument.
Throughout the concert, in between renditions of “Let Me Roll It,” “Love Me Do,” and “Maybe I’m Amazed,” he paused to regale the audience with tales involving the likes of Jimi Hendrix, fellow Beatles members and his family, reminding the crowd of just how much the rocker has seen and impacted in his lifetime.
The crowd — a blend of newcomers, repeat McCartney concertgoers, the singer’s third wife, Nancy Shevell, for whom he dedicated his live performance of “My Valentine,” and even a teen who skipped senior prom to see one of the last two living Beatles — hung onto every word of wisdom.
Super fans held up handmade signs, like a father and daughter duo whose messages McCartney picked out of the crowd.
“I’m married, but I want to hold your hand,” the woman’s sign read. Next to her, her father’s read, “I’m her Dad, but me too.”
McCartney even threw in a surprise “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” and two beginning tracks off the “Abbey Road Medley” (”You Never Give Me Your Money” and “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window”), which he told the crowd he’d never played on previous tours.
It all culminated in an explosive finale, frenetic with fireworks and the ferocious feeling emitted by “Live and Let Die,” followed by an entire stadium, dotted with cell phone flashlights, belting out the signature “Na na na nas” in “Hey Jude.”
But he and his fellow performers weren’t a “Band on the Run” yet. They came out before the applause died down to wave Ukrainian, American, United Kingdom, Florida and rainbow flags before performing an encore for the ages, finishing the fragmented “Abbey Road Medley” with, of course, “The End.”
Although, as we all know, McCartney is far from the finish line and promised to come to rock out again soon.