It’s no secret that The Beatles‘ primary message over their all-too-brief decade-long run from 1960 to 1970 was all about love, but that doesn’t mean that love was always shared among the band’s four members.
In an epic, three-hour concert at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium on Saturday night that spanned a whopping 38 songs, Paul McCartney took a rare quiet moment to urge the 50,000-plus fans staring up at him to tell people they love them early and often. “If you’ve got something really nice that you want to say to someone, you sometimes put it off,” McCartney said onstage. “You say, ‘Oh, I’ll tell them tomorrow, or I’ll catch them next week.’ And sometimes it can be too late and you don’t get to say it.”
This led into the song “Here Today,” which McCartney wrote following the death of his Beatles mate John Lennon in 1980 and released on his 1982 solo album Tug of War. “When we were kids in Liverpool, it’s not the kind of thing you could say, in those days anyway, to a guy; you couldn’t say, ‘I love you, man,'” he lamented. “You were just trying to be too hard, you were trying to be macho and cool, so you never really got around to saying stuff like that.”
Fast-forward to the night’s six-song encore and a very (unbelievably) special guest to close out McCartney’s Freshen Up Tour: Beatles drummer Ringo Starr. When McCartney introduced his former bandmate to deafening screams across the ballpark, he didn’t hesitate to make his feelings known. “I love you, man!” McCartney shouted to Starr before the drummer sat behind the kit to run through the reprise of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (with its appropriate show-ending lyrics) and the frenetic White Album classic “Helter Skelter.” As he exited the stage, Starr shared his own “I love you, man!” with Paul, who shot back, “I love you, man — peace and love, Ringo!”
It was the perfect display of the philosophy McCartney has embodied over his 60-year career in music — and it was just one highlight in a night of them. Below, find the best moments from the final stop of McCartney’s Freshen Up Tour.
Old vs. New
It’s an age-old dilemma for veteran artists to find the perfect balance of new songs to classics on tour, and with a catalog as robust as McCartney’s, it’s a trickier task than ever. He just put out a new album, Egypt Station, in September — his first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 since 1982 and his first-ever chart-topping debut — so of course he worked in the standout tracks “Fuh You,” “Come On to Me” and “Who Cares.” And he was the first to acknowledge the difference in fans’ reactions to the fresh tunes. “When we play a Beatles song, your phones all light up. The whole place is like a galaxy of stars,” he said. “And then, when we do a new song, it’s like a blackhole,” he quipped. Not that it mattered: “We don’t care, we’re gonna do ’em anyway!” Fans decided to prove him wrong with the very next song, holding up their glowing phones en masse as he performed Egypt Station lead single “Fuh You.”
Just because he played the new stuff doesn’t mean fans got any less Fab Four. McCartney rolled out 22 Beatles songs throughout the night, including a perfectly simple acoustic take on “Blackbird” that lilted into the night sky; a tribute to George Harrison on “Something,” which he kicked off with the first verse on ukulele; and the two sing-along classics “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude” leading into the encore.
Shaken & Stirred
Sandwiched in between those final two Beatles ballads was a pyrotechnic performance of “Live and Let Die,” Wings’ 1973 theme song to the James Bond film of the same name. 007 would have been impressed with the action-movie-worthy spectacle, which included a string of flames shooting up across the stage, sparks raining down behind the band and fireworks shooting high above Dodger Stadium. Coincidentally, actor Pierce Brosnan — who played James Bond in four films between 1995 and 2002 — was caught in the crowd on the big screen just a few songs later.
He’s Still Got It
Seven songs into the evening, McCartney started to feel the heat and decided to lose his black jacket, removing the coat to suggestive hoots and hollers from the crowd. “That is the one and only wardrobe change of the entire evening,” the 77-year-old said to settle down his adoring fans. “That’s it.”
Before The Beatles there was The Quarrymen, the five-member Liverpool group that originally included Paul, John and George, along with Colin Hanton and John “Duff” Lowe. Before performing the group’s first-ever recorded song, 1958’s “In Spite of All the Danger,” McCartney told the story of how the quintet used to share possession of the lone copy of the recording. “We’d keep the record each of us for a week; John kept it for a week, then George kept it for a week, then he gave it to me, I kept for it a week, I gave it to Colin, he kept it for a week. And he gave it to Duff — who kept it for 20 years,” McCartney quipped. “And then he sold it back to me for a highly inflated price.”
You Say It’s Your Birthday?
The encore kicked off with the festive 1968 White Album track “Birthday,” and McCartney asked the crowd who was celebrating a birthday on Saturday night. After a surprising amount of cheers sprinkled the audience, McCartney — who celebrated his own 77th birthday last month — said, “Happy birthday to all you guys. This is especially for you — and for anybody else who’s got a birthday any time this year.”
Paul McCartney & His All-Star Band
Throughout the high-energy three hours, McCartney was driven by his excellent tour band, which includes Rusty Anderson on guitar, Brian Ray on bass, Paul Wickens on keyboard and percussion, and breakout star Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums. Laboriel had many show-stealing moments, between his expressive face, joyful dance moves and overall ecstatic-to-be-there presence. The band got some backup during the encore, with the aforementioned Ringo cameo followed by Eagles guitar virtuoso Joe Walsh popping up for a riff-off between himself, McCartney, Anderson and Ray on Abbey Road‘s rocking “The End.” It was the perfect bow to tie up the perfect show, with the final lyric of the night an ever-appropriate one: “And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) July 14, 2019
The full set list for Paul McCartney’s final Freshen Up Tour stop at LA’s Dodger Stadium:
Hard Day’s Night
Can’t Buy Me Love
Got to Get You Into My Life
Come On to Me
Let Me Roll It
I’ve Got a Feeling
Let ‘Em In
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
Maybe I’m Amazed
I’ve Just Seen a Face
In Spite of All the Danger
From Me to You
Love Me Do
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)
Carry That Weight