It's been dark here at the blog for many moons, but I saw a show last night that demanded a return to print. After all these years, I finally saw my first Beatle live. Before I go into those details, I'll digress a bit.
I bought With the Beatles in December of 1963. I liked the album a lot, but at that point I was not particularly caught up in the whole Beatlemania thing. You have to remember that news was traveling a lot slower than it does today and the giant Beatle tidal wave had not yet hit the American shores. That all changed when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday February 9, 1964.
That weekend we were on a family ski trip to the Poconos with friends of my parents and their two daughters who were roughly the same ages as my brother and I. The two girls were all over the Beatles and went screaming around the resort all weekend in anticipation of the show on Sunday night. We watched the show back at their house on Sunday night. When their enthusiasm was added to seeing the Beatles live with my own eyes, I was hooked too. It was the beginning of a long love affair with the music of this very special band.
Since I wasn't going to many concerts when I was 12 years old, I never got a chance to see the Beatles live. I never made the effort to see any of the members play solo in the years following, until last night. In July I got wind of the opening of this fabulous 200 million dollar arts center in San Antonio where the kick off event was going to be Sir Paul playing in a 1700 seat venue. That was all I needed to know.
At 8 last night, Mrs. V and I walked over from the bar of the hotel next door to the most amazing venue. The Tobin Center is absolutely beautiful and one of the best places to hear music I have ever seen. It was a very civilized crowd with many in attendance with sport coats and even neckties. Things you don't often see a rock concert.
At about 8:30, Paul and the band came out and launched into Eight Days a Week. Over the next two hours, Paul, looking trim and very fit for his age, alternated between his signature Hofner bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, grand piano, upright piano and even ukulele for a version of George Harrison's Something. Over a 28 song set, he moved easily from Beatle classics to Wings songs to his newer material. He played great guitar including a verse of Foxy Lady on his psychedelic painted Les Paul. His voice is still amazingly good.
His enthusiasm for the music was evident and there was a great vibe and connection with the audience. The band complemented his music and also looked like they were having a great time.
There was something that was quite surreal about being less than 20 feet from a star of Paul's magnitude. Highlights of the set for me included Day Tripper, Lady Madonna, and a great version of Back in the USSR.
In an interesting twist, the man in seat next to me is the President of the Surf Ballroom and Museum in Clear Lake, Iowa. This was the site of Buddy Holly's last show before the tragic plane crash. In fact, Holly's plane went down on his family's farm where the crash monument is located today. Waiting for the show, we got into quite a conversation about Holly's influence on Paul and the early Beatles music. We also discussed the connection of Holly to Bob Dylan and the famous night when Holly looked into Dylan's eyes from the stage at the Duluth Armory. A story that Bob mentioned in his Grammy acceptance speech.
All in all it was a great night.