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Live Review: Paul McCartney @ Adelaide Entertainment Centre

19 October 2023 | 10:24 am | Genevra Siciliano

Paul McCartney, in all his splendour, is consistent, controlled and carried superbly by the band.

Paul McCartney @ Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Paul McCartney @ Adelaide Entertainment Centre (Credit: Rodney Magazinovic)

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Paul McCartney walks onto the Adelaide Entertainment Centre stage for his Got Back tour to a standing ovation from an eager crowd.

Opening with Can’t Buy Me Love, which has a meaty choir sound in its choruses, the curiosity around how many Beatles hits there’ll be begins to settle. The general body language of the audience matches the excitement levels and indicates a willingness to trust what McCartney plans to dish out.

Dressed in a black suit with a vest, the Beatles star sports the same trusty hairdo he has had for the last couple of decades—he certainly looks younger than his 81 years. 

There are three guitarists, including McCartney, and so the resounding guitar presence in Junior’s Farm undoubtedly soothes the rock n’ roll lovers in the audienceIn Letting Go, the horns trio—trumpet, sax, trombone--pop up amongst the crowd, effectively spotlighting the powerful fusion of guitars and horns.

George Harrison’s Something starts off simply with a ukulele, which was given to McCartney by Harrison. This part is upbeat and novel, but deep satisfaction is felt when the more familiar electric guitar arrangement kicks in. 

Nostalgic vibes ramp up considerably when the band launches into Got To Get You Into My Life. Soon after, McCartney takes off his jacket, changes guitars, and rolls up his sleeves for the gritty Let Me Roll It. The keys solo adds colourful depth, making this track a setlist highlight.

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There is an add-on Jimmy Hendrix tribute. McCartney proudly shares that the Sgt. Pepper’s album was released on a Friday; Hendrix then learnt the title track in two days and opened his show with it on a Sunday. The banter and stories cleverly complement the setlist; McCartney is succinct, comical and candid.

Moving over to the piano, the musical pulse of Let ‘Em In is reverberating, and this is followed by My Valentine, which McCartney wrote for his wife, Nancy. 

The band are visibly feeding off the crowd’s energy, especially the passionate drummer, who dramatically entertains with his choreography during Dance Tonight.

During Blackbird, a stillness passes over the arena. There are many noticeable embraces in the crowd--a bonding way to savour the poignancy of this song and realise the privilege of hearing it live.

McCartney is grateful and genuine when he responds to any of the louder call-outs from the audience. He acknowledges the hand-made signs and jokes that these are to blame if he should ever forget the lyrics to songs.

Vocally, McCartney is consistent, controlled and carried superbly by the band. Get Back, Let It Be, the pyrotechnics-fuelled Live And Let Die, and the phenomenal Hey Jude (where the house lights come on to highlight the audience’s impressive sing-a-long efforts) lead us to the encore. By now, the realisation kicks in that it really is Paul McCartney, in all his splendour, up on that stage.

When McCartney returns, the Australian flag is waved across the stage. Visual footage of John Lennon graces the screen, and his audio is inserted for I’ve Got A Feeling. It’s a powerful virtual duet that impactfully helps the crowd to imagine his presence.

“When we play a Beatles song, your phones light up, and it’s like a galaxy of stars,” McCartney tells us, “and when we play a new song, it’s like a black hole—but we’re gonna play them anyway!” Whether the band breaks out into Ob-La-Di or The Quarrymen’s In Spite of All The Danger, McCartney gives it his all and appears equally passionate with the classics and the more recent works. 

McCartney surpassed expectations in his two-plus-hour concert spanning 39 songs. The setlist is varied, multi-flavoured musically and downright momentous. Helter Skelter and Golden Slumbers lead to the finale, where the strobes hit out at full force, and the lyrics “You’re gonna carry that weight a long time” carry the crowd out happily into Adelaide’s evening air.