Former Beatle Paul McCartney plays to sold-out Wichita arena
A Beatle came to Wichita on Wednesday night.
Not just any Beatle but the Beatle, Paul McCartney. And he played 39 songs for a sold-out crowd of 12,500 at Intrust Bank Arena.
It was his first ever visit to Kansas, and he proved to be an affable chap, telling stories from the stage about his six-decade career, joking, reading fans’ signs aloud, even playfully shaking his backside as the camera zoomed in, projecting it on to the massive vertical screens on either side of the stage.
McCartney, 75, has a voice that’s more gravely than it was during his prime, and he can’t belt those high notes quite like he used to. But he’s still fit, energetic and full of charisma, and he’s still a top-notch musician. Throughout the show, he hopped from instrument to instrument, playing electric and acoustic guitars and sitting down behind two different pianos. He even played the ukulele, one he said former Beatles band mate, the late George Harrison, had given him.
And he performed songs that truly spanned his career, going all the way back to "In Spite of All the Danger," a song he recorded with his Beatles precursor band The Quarrymen in 1958, all the way up to "FourFiveSeconds," a song he made in 2015 with pop star Rihanna and rapper Kanye West.
After he performed another more current song, "Queenie Eye," a track from his 2013 solo album, "New," McCartney told the audience not to be fooled. He could tell when they liked a song and when they didn’t.
"When we do an old Beatles song, all your phones come on, and it lights up like a galaxy," he said. "When you don’t particularly like it, when we do a new song, it’s like a black hole. Well, we don’t care because we’re going to do it anyway."
But the set was full of old Beatles songs – and of songs from McCartney’s post-Beatles band, Wings.
McCartney took the stage with one of The Beatles’ biggest hits, "A Hard Days Night," and he sprinkled the set with many others, including "Love Me Do," "Can’t Buy Me Love," "Eleanor Rigby," "Blackbird" and "You Won’t See Me."
He pulled several hits from the Wings catalog too, including crowd pleasers "Jet," "Band on the Run" and "Live and Let Die," which included some dramatic on-stage pyrotechnics.
The upbeat show had many poignant moments, too. Early in the concert, McCartney sang "My Valentine," a song he told the crowd he wrote for his wife, Nancy Shevell. He then pointed her out in the crowd.
Another emotional moment came when he performed "Here Today" from his 1982 album, "Tug of War."
"I wrote this next song the year John passed away," he said, referring to his late Beatles bandmate John Lennon. Then McCartney raised his guitar and said "Let’s hear it for John" as the audience cheered.
"It was one of those things when you’re kids, you can’t really … express your emotions too well, especially guys in a band,” he said. “It’s very difficult to say to each other, ‘I love you.’ You just don’t do that stuff. I wrote this after John passed away, and it’s in the form of a conversation that we never got to have."
McCartney told lots of stories from his young days as a rock star, stories that involved Jimi Hendrix, members of the Rolling Stones and his former Beatles’ bandmates.
The latter half of the concert included the songs the crowd had been waiting all night for, including "Hey Jude," "Let it Be" and "Yesterday."
The final song, appropriately, was one from The Beatles’ 1969 album "Abbey Road."
Paul McCartney setlist for Wichita
“A Hard Day’s Night"
"Can't Buy Me Love"
"Let Me Roll It"
"I’ve Got A Feeling"
"Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five"
"Maybe I’m Amazed"
"We Can Work It Out"
"In Spite of All the Danger"
"You Won’t See Me"
"Love Me Do"
"And I Love Her"
"The Fool On the Hill"
"I Wanna Be Your Man"
"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
“Band on the Run”
“Back in the U.S.S.R.”
“Let It Be”
“Live and Let Die”
“Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)”
“Hi, Hi, Hi”
“Carry That Weight”