Paul McCartney Creates Stadium Intimacy In Hits Filled SoFi Stadium (Inglewood) Performance (SHOW REVIEW)

Paul McCartney visited Inglewood California’s cavernous SoFi Stadium on May 13, 2022, as part of his 13-city GOT BACK tour. The sold-out performance will be remembered as a masterpiece, not simply because it was musically brilliant, but for how Sir Paul made everyone feel like he was playing for each one of them, personally. Inside a 70,000-seat stadium, it is tough to create intimate moments, but McCartney did just that.

Sitting in the 33rd row on the floor of a football stadium, which was about at the 50-yard line, felt far away. Still, it was nothing compared to the people in the upper levels who had paid a king’s ransom to see the show. The giant video screens on either side and behind the immense stage were there to accommodate everyone, but they were pretty overwhelming. However, McCartney ignored the enormity of the space and drew in the audience with personal anecdotes, tidbits about each song, and touching tributes to departed friends and lovers. 

Macca took the crowd on a journey through his career by giving a history lesson, from the small Liverpool practice sessions to early times spent with Jimi Hendrix in London, to song-construction sessions with George Harrison and John Lennon, all the way through his solo career. 

Sir Paul waved his arms, pointed to audience members, took little bows, and smiled as the devoted fans roared after each song. His voice sounded the same as it always has, although it may have a bit less depth and power. The band was masterful at supporting him. Longtime members Wix Wickens on keyboards, accordion, and harmonica; Rusty Anderson on guitar; Brian Ray on bass and guitar; and Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums all played beautifully, as well as provided rich harmonies. The Hot City Horns (Mike Davis, Paul Burton and Kenji Fenton) filled out the sound on several songs.

McCartney showed his versatility by playing bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, mandolin, ukulele, grand piano, and upright piano at various times during the nearly three-hour show. So many magical moments occurred that it is hard to pick out just a few. When he was on the gorgeous, black Yamaha grand piano, McCartney did spirited versions of “1985” and “Maybe I’m Amazed” and McCartney was alone under the spotlight with an acoustic guitar for a beautifully performed “Blackbird.” After the song, he joked, “How many of you have tried to learn how to play that? You all got it wrong.”

The tributes for Lennon and Harrison were quite moving and emotional. “Here Today” is a song that McCartney wrote about the things he should have said to Lennon before he died. McCartney played an acoustic guitar and was launched above the stage on a giant riser while a montage of images and video of Lennon rolled behind him. After the song, in a cracking voice, he said, “If you have something special to say, get it said.”

For “Something,” Paul started playing alone with a ukulele, saying he and George Harrison would mess around with the instruments backstage and at home. The song started quietly but eventually, the other musicians joined in and as it grew louder, McCartney switched to an acoustic guitar as Anderson played the iconic guitar solo. Images of a young Harrison alone and with the other Beatles filled the screens alongside and behind the band.

Director and producer Peter Jackson, who made the documentary “Get Back,” created several of the video elements for the show. When the band played that song, one of Jackson’s videos filled the screens with scenes from the original recording sessions, as well as other images of the Beatles. 

The most outrageous moment came when the band launched into “Live and Let Die.” McCartney started the song behind the upright piano near the front of the stage. As the song progressed to the more up-tempo segments, all of the visual elements of the show were ramped up. Lights and lasers rotated across the stage as well as through the stadium. Huge flames exploded out of tubes across the front of the stage and fireworks filled the air.

The most shocking and memorable imagery happened after McCartney said, “I’ve got something very special; I hope you like it.” He and the band played “I’ve Got a Feeling” as the opening song of the encore. About halfway through the song, McCartney stepped away from the microphone and the video wall showed Lennon singing the song as the stadium sound system blasted out his vocals while the band played on. McCartney joined in as his and Lennon’s voices were synchronized. After the song, McCartney explained that Peter Jackson told him he could isolate Lennon’s vocals and blend them with the video.

He closed the show with excellent versions of “Helter Skelter” and “Golden Slumbers.” There is no doubt that McCartney is near the end of his long and winding road. The chance to see him perform his songs, while he still has the desire and talent was transcendent. 

Live photos courtesy of Andy J. Gordon ©2022.

Paul McCartney Setlist SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, CA, USA 2022, Got Back

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