Published on theMusic.com.au, Dec 2017
Pic by Linda Dunjey
The anticipation throughout endless lines around Perth’s nib Stadium was fuelled by the crystal clear sounds of a music legend soundchecking right up until doors opened, many gifted a mini concert in full view while bracing the heat.
Once inside and amped to the max by a DJ smashing Beatles songs, the man of the hour arrived to a standing ovation and surveyed the crowd slowly, walking the stage’s length with his hand raised.
A Hard Day’s Night was a fitting introduction and ecstasy was in the air from its opening line. Guitar-driven, country-tinged rock hit Junior’s Farm was the first of many drastic mood shifts, and McCartney’s screams during its outro over shredding guitar riffs took the music briefly into metal territory.
“G’day, Perth,” he said with a grin, continuing to appease appetites with Can’t Buy Me Love, featuring images of The Beatles on a screen at the back of the stage. The One On One tour employed simple yet effective production elements that largely consisted of strategically placed lights and screens to create an epic variety of different depths and moods.
Letting Go is when his voice truly broke in, elevated by epic harmonies, but it wasn’t until anthem All My Loving that those trademark vocals and charming twang kicked in.
“That was the one and only wardrobe change of the evening,” he joked, removing his jacket and trading his iconic bass for a colourful Les Paul, busting out rapid licks between the smooth verses of Let Me Roll It, complete with a Foxy Lady jam in tribute to Jimi Hendrix.
From all-out rock’n’roll to laid-back rock, I’ve Got A Feeling signalled another change of pace which slowed further for another tribute. “This one’s for you Nance,” he said, assuming a position behind the piano and leading ballad My Valentine, his voice slightly breaking every now and then to add another level of raw emotion.
Reading out some of the signs in the audience, McCartney went from an onstage proposal request to “please sign my butt”. He read it aloud and squinted: “Well go on, let’s have a look at it.”
Regardless of the song requests among the cardboard sea, all diehard fans were satisfied with pre-Beatles (The Quarrymen) tune In Spite Of All The Danger, which did indeed deliver the time-warped promised with its delicate guitar and ‘50s crooning.
There were hits being dished out in every direction, but McCartney still found time to deliver anecdotes and trivia, giving certain songs deeper meaning and keeping the three-hour gig fresh.
The set was all about balance, and a lot of the time it was a song’s roots – not production or showmanship – that drove things. Production and songwriting perfection culminated in Blackbird, which McCartney delivered solo on a platform that rose to place him under a clear sky in the moonlight for the show’s most powerful segment.
“I wrote this song after my dear friend John died,” he said, ushering wild cheers before it went deadly silent. “It’s in the form of a conversation we never got to have.”
Each lyric of Here Today added another level of emotional depth, which made for a draining experience.
His band returned and the announcement of new material was met with a similar silence. “We know what you like, we can tell from here…we don’t care, we’re gonna do it anyway.”
After bestowing a smorgasbord of hits already, he’d more than earned the right and 2013’s Queenie Eye proved his songwriting is still on point and fresh, while New was dripping in that classic Beatles bop.
After treating fans to the oldest song in his catalogue earlier on, he jumped to his most recent work – his collab with Kanye West and Rihanna, FourFiveSeconds. The organ-rich, harmony-drenched rendition had the stadium singing in unison and out-did the studio recording by a mile.
It was back to nostalgia with a tribute to George Harrison, Macca equipped with a ukulele his former bandmate had gifted him for Something.
The venue vibrated with the collective ahs of A Day In The Life which transitioned into another set highlight in Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance, and by the time Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da and Band On The Run rolled around, no one had to be told to sing along.
The heavenly experience of Let It Be was shattered in fine form by Bond theme Live And Let Die, as it was introduced and featured relentless pyrotechnics and fireworks; a shock to the system nurtured by Hey Jude.
As evident by his last-minute soundcheck and intimate fan gig at Regal Theatre earlier in the week, it’s clear McCartney still thrives off performing and that, more than anything, is what makes an evening with him so enjoyable.
That childlike enthusiasm was infectious and rendered a stadium show like no other. The massive venue may have been packed, but the tour title One On One couldn’t have rung more true, with McCartney truly establishing a lasting connection with set closers Yesterday, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Helter Skelter and Golden Slumbers, among others, topped off with that onstage proposal promised earlier and WA Police Pipe Band supplying drums and bagpipes for Mull Of Kintyre.