Saturday, June 15, 2013

On Seeing A Legend Perform

I got to see a performing legend put on a really good show recently.  Notice I didn’t call him a “living legend,” for though it would have been special just to be in the same arena as Paul McCartney, it was even more significant to see him sing at such a high-quality level.  The former Beatle turns 71 on June 18th.

I was impressed by his energy, enthusiasm, and his level of intensity.  When’s the last time you saw a senior citizen play for 2 ½ hours straight?  He started his show an hour late (an unfortunate custom of most musical artists) but he didn’t stop playing once he took the stage for a show that ended in a double encore and fireworks inside the enclosed Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a man who hasn’t made much music to impress the masses over the past 30 years.  But this entertainer days date back to 1957, before the Beatles were formed in 1960.  He has a treasure trove of over 56 years worth of songs and material to draw from.  Apparently he played some songs at the concert that hadn’t been played publicly in a long time, including “8 Days of Love,” last performed in 1964.

The Beatles are probably the one group from the last century that I wish I’d seen perform live.  All of my other favorites have been tended to – U2, Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, Madonna, Coldplay, Beyonce, and Billy Joel.  I never saw – nor do I care to see – The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, but I suppose he’s a legend.  Same with the Rolling Stones.

McCartney had some stage quirks going on.  He constantly scratched his hair (hair piece? plugs?) in between songs, usually after he’d tug on his pants to lift them up.  He had one outfit change, if you can call taking off a jacket such an event.  Most performers have elaborate sets and stages but he kept it simple.  He also never took a drink of water or disappeared from the crowd’s sight.  After almost every song, he’d life his arms up in the air the way a politician waves to an adoring crowd after giving a rousing speech.  He truly wanted to soak up the applause, one song at a time.  I think he knows this remarkable career of success and longevity won’t go on forever.  He doesn’t have to tour or do anything.  He has a zillion dollars, fame and glory, and a legacy – but he performs because he loves doing what he does best.  He has entertained millions and millions of people, for up to three and four generations.

There was something a little unnatural about seeing him perform.  It’s one thing for athletes to take steroids and appear to be faster or stronger – you can’t do that when you’re 71.  There’s no pill or drug to give you not just stamina and energy, but the ability to sound young, to still entertain as if he were half his age.

There was also something haunting about him still being around to talk about people long dead, including his first wife, two of his Beatles band members, contemporary Jimi Hendrix, and others.  It seemed like anyone he spoke of during the concert was dead.  It’s as if he has found the Fountain of Youth while others have been naturally swallowed up by time. Maybe this was a clone of the real McCartney, one that is part robot and able to perform at a high level?

He is what all authors would kill to be – a world-recognized, beloved figure who entertains and enlightens others. He’s a talented songwriter, a man who puts passion, emotion, and conviction into his lyrics.  He has found a way to touch so many and every time he performs, he gets touched back by his adulating fans.

It was refreshing to see an old-time performer go at it at such a high-octane level.  Though his words and songs of many years ago spoke of love, war, and society, he seems to be free of political issues and unencumbered as he sings relevant but uncontroversial songs.  He doesn’t have wardrobe malfunctions, resort to coarse language, or get caught up in scandals.  There’s no diva side to him.  He just sings, plays the guitar, and lets loose on the piano.  No dancing, no fancy costumes, no crazy stage sets.  He’s just a plain but endearing singer.

Forget about music tastes and other concerns you may have associated with Sir Paul.  Catch him perform, if you can, and take in a great icon of our time, of all time.  You won’t be disappointed, and I think you’ll come to look back at his concert as a benchmark to judge others by.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013 

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