Ageless Paul McCartney revisits the Beatles in OKC gig

OKLAHOMA CITY – Paul McCartney opened his concert here Monday night with a rousing performance of the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night.

But the 75-year-old McCartney didn’t make it seem hard for him to captivate a nearly sold-out audience for almost three hours.

And it wasn’t hard to enjoy this energy packed concert.

McCartney, who except for a little gray hair looked younger than he is, stopped in Oklahoma City at the Chesapeake Energy Arena as part of his “One On One” Tour across Middle America.

McCartney, one the Beatles’ “Fab Four,” dazzled the audience with perfect performances of classic Beatles’ hits with a few songs from his other group Wings and some more recent tunes. In fact, he played the first song he ever recorded and his latest recording

The crowd stayed on its feet for Beatles’ rock classics including Hard Day’s Night, Can’t Buy Me Love, Love Me Do, Lady Madonna, Eleanor Rigby, Back in the USSR, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band and others.

McCartney’s voice seems particularly dynamic for his age and 60-year career. Not only is he one of the best singers of a generation, but also he has few peers as a songwriter and he is a fantastic musician. He played the guitar, the piano and sang with the energy of someone half his age.

McCartney told the Oklahoma City crowd that he noticed they turned on the lights on their cellphones when they played the Beatles hits but not so much when they performed other numbers.

“We are going to play them any way,” McCartney said with a smile.

It was like a trip back to the 1960s when he softly played and sang And I Love Her, Fool on a Hill, Something, Let It Be, Baby I’m Amazed and Hey Jude.

He set up his rendition of Blackbird by explaining that he wrote that song when American was struggling with civil rights back in the 1960s and he felt strongly about the plight of black Americans.

The most dramatic moment of the night was an overwhelming pyrotechnics display in the middle of Live and Let Die (from Wings and the sound track of the James Bond movie of the same name). That was a scorcher. It’s amazing that nothing caught on fire on stage on in the front rows.

McCartney’s “One on One Tour” was the third major concert for McCartney in Oklahoma. He played before a packed house in Downtown Tulsa on August 17, 2009.

Fifteen years after helping open the Chesapeake Energy Arena in 2002, McCartney told short stories with a dry touch of humor between songs.

He told of taking a trip along the famed Route 66 and spending the night in Oklahoma City. A clerk told him he looked familiar. “You’re Paul Simon,” the clerk said. “Close enough,” McCartney responded.

Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Millenials paid handsomely to hear and see the 75-year-old legend perform for three hours without a break.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – judged to be the No. 1 album in Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” McCartney was No. 11 on Rolling Stone’s list of the “30 greatest lead singers of all time.” The Beatles are on top of Billboard magazine’s 2008 list of “all-time most successful artists.”

Fans of the Beatles got to hear A Hard Day’s Night – a song the Beatles last played together in 1965. John Lennon was murdered in 1980 and George Harrison died from lung cancer in 2001. Only McCartney and drummer Ringo Star are left from that culture-changing quartet.

One of the more sentimental moments of the concert was when McCartney started a solo of Something on the ukulele in a tribute to Harrison, who wrote that song.

He and McCartney were schoolmates back in Liverpool, England, and a montage of photos of Harrison played in the backdrop as McCartney played that song.

McCartney acknowledged that he and Lennon had rough spot in their relationship and he regrets that he didn’t do more to reconcile before Lennon was shot and killed.

The Beatles played their final concert together in 1966 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The band officially broke up in 1970.

After the Beatles split, the knighted pop singer formed the group Wings (1970-1981) and delivered another set of hits.

From 1982-1989, McCartney recorded No. 1 tunes with Stevie Wonder (Ebony and Ivory) and the late Michael Jackson  (The Girl Is Mine and Say, Say, Say).

For the last 10 years, McCartney’s band has featured Paul “Wix” Wickens (keyboards), Brian Ray (bass/guitar), Rusty Anderson (guitar) and Abe Laboriel, Jr. (drums). Labroriel put on quite a show himself.

As unusual as it might seem, some younger attendees are unfamiliar with the Beatles and their string of hits. All some of them know about McCartney is that he was denied admission to a nightclub because they didn’t know who he was. Or the younger fans might know him because he collaborated with Rihanna and Kanye West for FourFiveSeconds in 2015.

In 2002, McCartney played almost 40 songs in a three-hour concert and he did likewise on Monday night.

Always a showman, thirty minutes before he ended the concert, McCartney and his band exited and stagehands started turning off the equipment.

The audience refused to leave and yelled for more. Sure enough, McCartney returned and drove his fans crazy with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band and almost 30 extra minutes of encores.

Maybe the most exciting moment was when he promised to come back to Oklahoma again.