Paul McCartney live in Melbourne shaped a true night to remember for a father and son.
“If I take him, he’ll need to have a sleep during the day.”
“He can’t. He’s at daycare.”
“Can we bring him home early so he can have a sleep?”
“He won’t. His girlfriend is there on Tuesdays.”
“Well, he can sleep in the car. That’s a good hour.”
He didn’t sleep in the car.
Every parent knows the pitfalls of trying to negotiate an evening social event with a tired child – you never know what you’re going to get. Throw a day of childcare into the mix and it’s like sorting through a shipping container of fireworks with a blowtorch.
My boy’s excitement at the prospect of seeing Paul McCartney, his very first gig, was palpable. After telling everyone who would listen at daycare that his dad was taking him to see The Beatles, we set off.
From an early age, like his father, he was drawn to music, with the Beatles fast becoming his band of choice. He has an Abbey Road picture on his bedroom wall and most of their albums stacked up next to his CD player. And here he was, aged just four-and-a-half, on his way to see the only remaining founding member of the greatest band in history. What a platform to start on.
Assumptions that I’d be preoccupied entertaining Jones Jr. with episodes of Hey Duggee on the iPhone for parts of the evening were swiftly dispelled with the iconic opening chord of A Hard Day’s Night.
For the next two-and-a-half hours, the lad barely moves, eyes transfixed to McCartney on stage as the big Beatles numbers follow in a procession, momentarily intersected by songs from Wings’ extensive catalogue and new solo material.
While septuagenarian McCartney may have, understandably, slowed a little – his voice is at times incapable of hitting some of the demanding notes within the setlist – it’s easy to forget that this man has been fronting bands for the best part of 60 years, and any wear and tear is more than justified. His musicianship remains razor sharp, however, swapping between bass, guitar and piano. Watching his fingers lithely glide across his iconic Hoffner ‘violin’ bass is a reminder of how complex those Beatles basslines are.
As an entertainer, McCartney is in a different league – one he himself has defined with a prolific career – and his expansive songbook is unparalleled. Here he plays a broad selection of Beatles history, even throwing in the first song they ever recorded under the moniker of The Quarrymen.
My boy can barely contain his excitement when the pyrotechnics display accompanying Wings’ Live and Let Die erupts and lights up the stadium. And the songs just keep on coming. Although it’s a Lennon track (as were many in the set), McCartney even pulls out A Day In the Life. His backing band this evening, who have been playing together on this tour for close to 18 months, are excellent.
When Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da is played late in the set, I turn around to observe a lady, who must be pushing eighty, slapping the palms of her hands on her knees to the rhythm. In front of me, my four-and-a-half year old is shaking his head in excitement. That’s the power of The Beatles right there – reaching and enchanting a span of four generations.
I’ve always been averse to attending stadium shows, but watching Paul McCartney here on a magical evening shaping memories with my son, I’m struggling to think of any gig I’ve been to that has achieved the same impact.
For the lad, the best part of the night is the fireworks, a fact he has recounted untold times since. For me, I’ll never forget his delighted reaction when McCartney breaks into Can’t Buy Me Love.
As far as gigs go, this one will take something special for the boy – and his father – to top.