Even at 73, Paul McCartney still brought me to tears

“You’re thinking of not going to Paul McCartney?!”

That was the incredulous question directed to me by a DT colleague after I’d announced my struggle about whether or not to try and get a ticket for the show that night.

It was a fair question. As an audio reviewer, composer/musician, former audio engineer, and rational human being, the Beatles are my favorite rock band of all time. Not only that, but Paul is my favorite Beatle. Even after the blitzkrieg by scalpers left ticket prices at around $165 a pop, it seemed like a foregone conclusion I’d be one of the first in line to see the truest embodiment of a musical living legend still left standing in concert.

But for me, it was all a bit more complicated.

A child of the Beatles

Let’s face it: Paul McCartney is 73 years old, and his voice just isn’t what it used to be. Paying through the nose for rock stars who’ve passed their prime is one thing. But the fear of seeing my idol struggling on stage and shaking the foundations of my artistic core, is another. The Beatles are much more than just musical icons — they’re the soundtrack of my childhood.

The Beatles, London, 1967
The Beatles, London, 1967 lindamccartney/Instagram

As the zero hour approached, a friend who was on his way to the show reminded me of that fact, saying “(McCartney) basically made you who you are today.” He was joking, but just barely. My parents are wonderful people, and still together after 45 long years, but simply put, if I had a second dad, it would be Paul McCartney. Suddenly, there I was on my way straight to Portland’s Moda Center. I finagled a $100 nosebleed ticket (from some shady-as-hell characters), and I was in.

The legend lives

My fears weren’t wholly unfounded — that familiar voice (obviously) isn’t the sparkling beacon of lyrical melody it once was. But that didn’t matter. The show was nothing short of spectacular. As soon as he hit the stage wearing his navy-blue suit and iconic Hofner bass, I knew I was in the right place. Filling the packed hall with nostalgia, humor, and most of all, musical wonderment, McCartney poured out every drop we’d been aching for, and more.

It didn’t matter that his voice had diminished through the years; he still had it. And he gave it all away.

As a singer, I was sharply aware of his vocal struggles on a few numbers, but they all melted away thanks to his sheer musicality. The voracious crowd buoyed McCartney with unabashed love and adoration, and he rose on that energy — literally and figuratively — like the lyrical rock god he is. Perched on an elevated stage with just his acoustic guitar, he transcended on songs like Blackbird (which, he informed us, was written as a civil rights anthem), And I Love Her, and the absolutely stirring Here Today, which is McCartney’s attempt at a final reconciliation with John over the estrangement they never got to settle. I will admit that I cried during that song, and I wasn’t alone.

Elsewhere in the set, the Beatle and his fantastical musical accomplices electrified the crowd with songs old and new. The brilliant players filled in all the gaps, with layered backing vocals on songs like Lady Madonna, note-for-note electric guitar solos on tunes like Maybe I’m Amazed, and complete orchestral and brass recreations throughout the set. Much of the latter can be attributed to the wizard on synth, Paul “Wix” Wickens, who, as musical director, holds the whole thing together while McCartney bounces from bass to guitar, grand piano, and upright (complete with front-side psychedelic screen).

Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite from Sgt Pepper sounded so authentic with all those warbling organ loops I found myself looking around for the recently-deceased fifth Beatle, the great George Martin. And the ukulele intro on Something in the Way (apparently taken from a uke jam session between Paul and the Beatles’ other famous George), edged effortlessly into the full-band arrangement, raising chills.

As the dazzling quintet finally wrapped things up three hours deep – it fittingly concluding with The End from Abbey Road — we were left in a cradle of mind-melting childhood wonderment. We were all in love with him and he, surely, was in love with us back. It didn’t matter that his voice had diminished through the years; he still had it. And he gave it all away.

McCartney’s latest tour isn’t just some checkmark on your bucket list. And as much nostalgia as he naturally brings along, it’s also much more than just a chance to touch a musical embodiment of a simpler time from the annals of history. Seeing Paul McCartney is the ultimate encounter of a real-life legend — one who lives up to all the hype, and more than that, humanizes it in the best way possible. Even at 73, he doesn’t disappoint or dilute your lifelong Beatles fantasy; he completes it.

Long after he’s gone, the world will still be in love with Paul McCartney. And if you have the chance, it’s well worth buying that ticket and getting to one of his shows to remind yourself why.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Mobile

Got Verizon Unlimited? Get six months of Apple Music for free

Verizon's new offer stands to benefit both Apple Music and its own subscribers, as the one-of-a-kind offer appears compelling to both existing and potential new subscribers. Find out when the offer begins, and if there are any strings…
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (August 2018)

Prime Video gives subscribers access to a host of great movies, but sifting through the massive library isn't easy. Lucky for you, we've sorted the wheat from the chaff. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix in August, from ‘Arrested Development’ to ‘Dark Tourist’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in August 2018, from ‘Blue Valentine’ to ‘Jurassic Park’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.
Gaming

The best PS1 games of all time

Take a stroll down memory lane with the 50 best games ever released for the original PlayStation.
Music

The 15 best internet radio stations for your listening pleasure

Even in the streaming era, radio stations get some of the best exclusives and curate some of the finest handpicked playlists around. Here are the best internet radio stations, for your listening pleasure.
Product Review

Optoma’s NuForce BE Free5 wireless earbuds cut the price, keep the good sound

Taking out all the wires and glossy paint, Optoma still gives its NuForce BE Free5 the goods to play audio better than Apple’s AirPods at a cheaper price. But are these the affordable true wireless earbuds for you?
Music

The best new music this week: Adrianne Lenker, Mitski, and more

Are you looking for the best new music? Each week, we scour the internet to find the most compelling new songs. On tap this week: Adrianne Lenker, Mitski, Big Red Machine, Mountain Man, Anna St. Louis, Marissa Nadler, and The Dodos.
Home Theater

Get the most boom for your buck with the best headphones under $100

Everybody wants a bargain, and this list has a bunch. For those looking for a solid set of headphones without spending a big stack of cash, this list is is your starting point. Check out all of our picks for the best headphones under $100.
Deals

Score a new Audio Technica turntable for $129 and get a free $50 Dell gift card

Want to break out your old vinyl records without spending a fortune on a high-end turntable? The Audio Technica AT-LP60BK-BT turntable is a highly affordable way to enjoy the warm analog tones of your vinyls, and it's now on sale for $129…
Home Theater

5 gorgeous turntables that spin stacks of wax in style for less than $500

Vinyl records are awesome, but they're also finicky. To get the best out of your stacks of wax, it's best to play them on a quality turntable. Here are the best turntables to be had for under $500.
Music

Spotify may eventually allow free users to skip all ads

Spotify is rolling out a new feature that may allow free users to skip ads whenever they want. Currently, the test is being conducted in Australia but if successful, it may be spread to other countries.
Music

Listen up! These are the best movie soundtracks of all time

Whether you're a lover of beautifully composed original scores or a fan of perfectly compiled background music, these are the best movie soundtracks of all time — from Star Wars to Garden State.
Music

Spotify vs. Pandora: Which music streaming service is better for you?

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.