On Wednesday night, Sir Paul McCartney stepped onto an Austin stage for the first time in his famed 50-year career. Ahead of his two-and-a-half hour set, 30 minutes of footage from McCartney’s life — childhood photos, Beatles moments — rolled on screens flanking the stage, as a sold-out crowd filtered into the Frank Erwin Center.
At 8:45 p.m., McCartney and his band hit the stage, opening with early Beatles classic “Eight Days A Week,” followed by “Junior’s Farm.” After two songs, McCartney addressed the crowd with absolute authenticity. “Hey, Austin, Texas,” McCartney said. “We are gonna have a party here tonight!”
“I’m just gonna take a moment to drink it in for myself.” - Paul McCartney M
The party officially started with “All My Loving,” which McCartney finished on a high that seemed to affect him just as much as the eager audience. “I’m just gonna take a moment to drink it in for myself,” McCartney said. With that statement, he signaled the theme for the evening: a truly retrospective trip through a legend’s decades long career.
The evening hit all the high notes of McCartney’s diverse catalog. There was the blues — “Let Me Roll It” rolled into an homage to Jimi Hendrix with “Foxy Lady” hooks. There was a nod to Beatles’ success with “Paperback Writer.” And there was McCartney on the keys, with “My Valentine” and “The Long And Winding Road.”
But perhaps the most poignant part of the night was McCartney’s slight fumble on the opening of “Maybe I’m Amazed.” Seated at the piano, McCartney took a moment to regroup after questioning the chords. “Proves we’re live,” he joked before launching into the anthem for a second time.
That little bobble — and that’s all I’ll call it — signified the tightening of the show. Adrenaline kicked in (for McCartney and the audience), and a quite humble McCartney proved why he’s been a legend, a master of music and cadence, for five decades.
The rest of the production — over 30 songs in all — flowed as one would expect. A multi-generational audience sang along to such era-defining tunes as “Blackbird,” “Lady Madonna,” and “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” And the same crowd found solace in “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude,” which closed the set.
After a quick reprieve, Paul McCartney returned to the stage for his first ever Austin encore. Armed with a Texas flag, he moved into “Daytripper,” bringing a proud Lone Star crowd to its feet.
Due to high demand, McCartney added a second Austin show to his tour. He plays Thursday, May 23 at the Frank Erwin Center before continuing the North American leg in Memphis.