There is not a word in the English dictionary that properly encapsulates how I felt at the Paul McCartney concert. While it’s very possible that there’s a word in the German dictionary specifically for moments of this sort and is defined as “when there is no available word that properly encapsulates how one feels”, unfortunately I don’t know it, if it exists. What I’m trying to say is, Paul McCartney has got it GOING. ON. even at the age of 71 and his concert landed itself within the top 3 of my “best moments in life” chart. (The engagement and marriage to my husband are automatically at numbers 1 and 2.) I still can’t wrap my mind around how I was in the presence of a Beatle, and when I do attempt to wrap my mind around it I start crying, so really it’s best that I continue to stay in shock until I recover which should be within the next week or so.
Vienna was nuts about him. The “Österreich”, a well-known Austrian tabloid, printed a Paul McCartney specific paper complete with the night’s set list, an exclusive interview, and tour pictures. Lines outside Vienna’s “Stadion” began around 2:00pm, myself there (and second in line at my station!) at 3:00pm. I partook in and proved my own theory of when one hears the sound of Paul’s voice, one automatically reaches for one’s ears and/or hair. I decided this to be some sort of defense mechanism against premature fainting or emotional overload, and found it to be helpful during the entirety of his soundcheck during which my fellow-McCartney lovers and I overheard “Honey Don’t”, “Lady Madonna”, and “Penny Lane” among several others. My husband and I were fortunate enough to land spots in the front row of our particular section – that being a “Stehplatz” or standing room not right at the front of the stage but in the middle of the ground floor in the stadium. The fans around us were a mix of hardcore Beatles and Wings fans, one of them who looked EXACTLY like the nervous, nerdy guy from Office Space (except he sounded like a robot which made for a very eery sounding Eleanor Rigby singalong). And unlike a lot of concerts I’ve been to where fans push and shove and hate each other for being too close or too tall or too loud, we all got along and simply enjoyed the concert together, each of us basking in the presence of Sir Paul’s musical genius.
Total, I think I cried on 10 separate occasions during the concert, which is why this post is brought to you by Mary Kay’s Waterproof Mascara: For all of your pre, current, and post Paul McCartney concert needs. I of course cried the moment he appeared on stage. I just couldn’t believe he was really right there in front of me, you know, existing. He said, “SERVUS WIEN!” into the mic then went right into playing “Eight Days A Week”. Each song he played conjured memories beginning from my childhood to now which only made my teary tendencies harder to control. As you know, I had anticipated crying throughout the concert and was at first comfortable with this outcome. But pretty early on in his performance I realized I had encountered the unexpected dilemma of struggling to both be able to sing and cry at the same time. I don’t know if you know this but… it’s a difficult feat to achieve. So for example, while Paul was playing “All My Loving”, my heart was yelling, “SING WITH HIM! IT’S YOUR ONLY CHANCE!” and my memory bank was sobbing, “Oh my WOOOOORD! Isn’t this the first song Paul sings on the Ed Sullivan Show?! Remember watching it over and over again on The Beatles Anthology when you were a little girl? Oh the EMOTION!” This was a constant inward battle in which both my heart and memory bank were able to check “Win” throughout the night, but also, to be fair, it didn’t help that during nearly every one of his songs, clips of movies and pictures played on the screen behind him. I mean that’s obviously going to take an emotional toll, especially when he’s dedicating “Something” to George Harrison and there’s picture after picture of him and George back from when they were little guys till the end of George’s life. Talk about WATERWORKS.
As far as favorite parts of the night go, I’m unable to tell you which parts of the night were my favorite because every part of the night was my favorite. But I suppose the part of the night I was looking forward to the most were the last 3 songs of his first set: “Let It Be”, “Live and Let Die”, and “Hey Jude”. I knew “Let It Be” was going to be everything I had dreamed it would be and more, and it was. I sang along for about three-fourths of it before I fell apart. My emotional strength was regained during “Live and Let Die” because the stage effects were AWESOME and Abe looked like someone needed to hand him a grown tree and quick for him to break in half with his bare hands at the explosive ending of the song. (Abe is a BEAST.) But then “Hey Jude”… Good ole’ Jude brought down the house and I could barely keep up with the crowd’s unified Na-Na-Na’s. I could not stop thinking about the first time I saw the recording of “Hey Jude” on The Beatles Anthology and how…how mesmerized I was by this group of guys who left such an undeniably, incomprehensibly enormous mark on the history of music, and how whenever I watched this song in particular I wanted so badly to see it performed live I couldn’t stand it. And yet there he stood. There was Paul. He played the song just like he did on the video, and the crowd sang along with him at the end just like they did in the video, he screamed Jude’s name in crazy ways just like in the video, and it was perfect – just like in the video.
Paul told us that as all concerts do, there unfortunately has to be an end. So after two encores, Paul ended the night by appropriately taking us all home with “Golden Slumbers”, “Carry That Weight”, and “The End” – the last three 3 songs off of The Beatles “Abbey Road” album, the last album the group recorded together prior to their split. The last song “The End” has a particularly special meaning to Will and me as the last words of the song “And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make” were the words we chose to be written on our wedding cake. It was the most immaculate ending to the best night of my life…Yes except for the time I got engaged and married to my husband.
The only issue that I am KICKING myself over is not getting a T-shirt from his merch booth. I was so focused on getting in line first and so determined to not carry a purse that I forgot money and therefore missed out on getting a Paul McCartney “Out There” tour shirt. My husband says it’s fine because we have other ways of remembering the concert, like through our videos and pictures and this wondrous thing called “memories”. I suppose he’s right, but if those tour shirts ever pop up on his website you can bet I’ll be the first to snag myself one. Until then, I’ll be busy frame shopping for my ticket and newspaper to hang by the side of my bed…forever.