Last night, I was fortunate to attend the Paul McCartney show in Dallas at new Cowboys Stadium. With my children, 17 and 22 joining in, it was 2 hours and 45 minutes of musical bliss, history and some amazing seats. We were fortunate to be on row 2 in the middle, slightly to the left of Paul (facing the stage) and dead center in front of, Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray off to the far right.
Saying that the music was amazing and that the band played well would be an under statement that would speak the very obvious.
Being a Beatles fan, having met Paul when I was a 23 years old at his home in London, it was quite a treat to briefly re-connect with a musical genre that has shaped music and culture all over the world. As the show started, I told myself to stop “thinking” so hard about what was going on and to just enjoy the show.
Being so close up and near the band, the experience was totally different that other major shows I have seen in my life. I knew we were really close up when they played “Live and Let Die,” and you could feel the heat from the pyrotechnics.
From my vantage point, I watched Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray not only play well in supporting Paul, but closely observed their subtle, and critical adjustments to volume, tone and pedal controls that gave each song just the right sound.
Even in a huge arena, sound matters — and I was so blown away to their level of detail. The other treat about being so close was watching the parade of constantly changing, and often historic instruments Rusty, Paul and Brian played. You could see the scratch marks in the lower portion of Paul‘s trademark Hofner bass.
He also played an Epiphone acoustic with an early Redrose Speedway sticker. Rusty played several instruments, but I my eyes really caught the finish
on his Gibson ES-335’s – one in cherry red and the other a blonde, natural color.Slightly from afar on the other side of the stage, I watched Brian with his Les Paul SG six string, Les Paul SG Bass, Gretsch Anniversay, and and terrific sounding Taylor 12 string that chimed from being so close to the band. During the show, there were other instruments played by the band, but these are the ones that stood out the most in my mind.
We had to look back to see drummer, Abe Laboriel Jr., and keyboard player, Paul “Wix” Wickens. Being a drummer myself, and having recently seen Abe play with Stevie Winwood and Eric Clapton at the Hollywood Bowl in June, I can only describe Abe as being powerful, elegant and more of a ballet dancer using his sticks as his legs, doing an amazing balancing act supporting the melodies and guiding the band through the songs transitions.
During “Hey Jude,” the video cameras turned to the audience and I could see myself and two children’s images being flashed on a screen the entire width of the stage. We were singing “Na na na na na ,na na na, hey jude…” not only to ourselves, but to the other 40,000 members of a community who joined in that night. Speaking of community, we had a great contingency from San Antonio where the crew from Richard Turner’s Red Bone Guitar Boutique were there in force. During the summer, Red Bone featured a series of clinics, two of which featured Rusty and Brian.
After the concert, we went over the the Waffle House in Arlington to have a very late dinner. I thought of ourselves as truckers taking a break from a long journey, getting some warm grub before we settled in for the night.
None us really talked that much.
I think we were collectively shell shocked in amazement of what had just been through. We finally made got to the hotel at about 1:30 AM and I had to get my son up at 6:00 AM so he could go back to Austin, where he goes to school. I went back to sleep, and about 10:00 AM my daughter woke me up. Again, we did not say much, but on our way in the car we both agreed that we both felt uplifted and almost in the vein of a religious experience. We were still drained, but had a very eery sense of clarity in our brains.
There was one more thing that initially was a disappointment, but turned out to be a blessing (as so many things in life are). Photographer that I try to be, I brought my Nikon D80 to show, but was asked to return it to my car, which I did. My hope was to capture some great photos as a keepsake, but it did not work out that way. Sure, I used my iPhone, but an iPhone is – well and iPhone.
As of now, the real imagery of the show remains clearly in the front of my mind. I promised myself to park those images right there and hopefully never have them relegated to the exit row.
Brian Ray has a superb CD, “Mondo Magneto.”
Rusty Anderson just release a new, very rock’n CD, “Born on Earth”