Paul McCartney’s ‘Got Back’ Tour Scores a Touchdown With Marathon SoFi Stadium Show: Concert Review

Paul McCartney’s ‘Got Back’ Tour Scores a Touchdown With Marathon SoFi Stadium Show: Concert Review.

Paul McCartney, a Touchdown, Marathon SoFi Stadium Show

Paul McCartney has something to prove. What that is is between him and his shrink, although maybe a desire to seem and feel undiminished is not as mysterious as all that. What we do know for certain is that, in the year of our lord 2022, McCartney is doing two-hour-and-40-minute sets that encompass 36 songs. If this seems at all slacker-ish, consider also that the singer is keeping with his touring custom of recent years and doing more informal, hour-long, 8-to-13-song “soundchecks” before the doors open for fans who buy VIP packages, something that puts him on stage close to four hours each show day.

Unspoken at Friday night’s SoFi Stadium show in L.A., and un-alluded to in even the slightest way — even though Beatlemaniacs have it marked on their calendars for next month — is that he turns 80 next month, two days after the tour wraps up. It may be unfair to compare the ways in which different performers age, but it’s worth pointing out that McCartney is doing these fairly marathon shows at a point in his life that is past the point at which Frank Sinatra did his final concert, following a few years of publicly noted erraticism. And yet here we are at a point where, for him anyway, 80 seems to be the new July-or-August of his years. No one would begrudge McCartney, or very few would, if he cut a few corners: cutting the set length to a reasonable two hours here, lowering the keys a little there, or dropping some of the vocal ad libs to save his voice for Syracuse. But McCartney is not about to use impending octogenarianism as a rationale to finally half-ass it. In fact, he’s not even going to three-quarters-ass it.

Of course, SoFi Stadium was filled with repeat customers — veterans of “Wings Over America” at the Forum in ’76 if not the Beatles at the Bowl in ’64 — but you didn’t have to look too far to see the sight of a 20-ish kid attending with a 75-ish grandfather, or even groups of proactive Gen-Z-ers that didn’t need boomer chaperones to see the value in coming. Whatever else might motivate McCartney to prove it all night, he’s surely aware that the “Got Back” tour is the only live experience of his or the Beatles’ music that these younger attendees will have in their lifetimes, and they’re not going to be grading it on a curve. That’s up to the oldsters: Were there enough deep ’70s cuts in the setlist? Is his voice what it was on the 2003 tour? But it’s hard to imagine too many people who were experiencing this as their first or only McCartney show not walking away with some deep feels they may feel compelled to tell their own grandkids about.

The show here largely follows the template established by the 2019 tour, so anyone who caught the tour finale at Dodger Stadium in July of that year but missed SoFi doesn’t have to worry they missed out on too major a variation on the previous iteration. But McCartney didn’t really design the show with double-dippers in mind; L.A. is one of very few markets he hit in ’19 that he’s coming back to in ’22, whereas several other cities, he hasn’t played in decades (Baltimore) or at all (Spokane). Since three years ago, a number of songs have come out (gone this time are “A Hard Day’s Night,” the “Sgt. Pepper” reprise, “Eleanor Rigby,” “From Me to You,” “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and — bet you saw this one coming, or going — “Back in the U.S.S.R.”). Other have been reinserted from years and tours past (including “Getting Better,” “We Can Work It Out,” “New” and — hey, what’s this buried nugget?  — “Get Back”).

Somewhat surprisingly, “Women and Wives” is the only song from his most recent album, “McCartney III,” to be plugged into the tour, and even that was absent from the setlist at SoFi, for some reason. But maybe the reasons for underplaying “III” generally are obvious; it was a pandemic album, scaled down and clearly not designed with stadiums in mind, unlike its predecessor, “Egypt Station.” McCartney half-joked that when he plays a Beatles song it’s like a galaxy of cell-phone lights, and when he does contemporary material he peers out into a black hole. But there were no bathroom stampedes during the 21st century picks, not even for “Fuh You,” the Ryan Tedder co-write that McCartney continues to seem to love beyond all reason, despite the better recent choices available to him. (Would he take a request for “Deep, Deep Feeling” instead? No, he probably wouldn’t.)

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