I've had a very McCartney-filled summer.
It started when I enrolled in a Beatles course at Ball State last spring, which included a Liverpool and London excursion in May. Before heading over the pond, a friend of my professor was able to connect me with Mike McCartney, Paul's brother. Upon arriving in Liverpool, my class and me headed to nearby New Brighton, where we attended an intimate talk by Mike at a local bookstore called Literally. After the talk, our class had dinner with Mike and some friends of his, where I was able to individually chat with Paul's only sibling about Liverpool's rich musical past.
While in England, I was also able to visit a multitude of McCartney monuments, including The Cavern Club (albeit rebuilt), Penny Lane, The Casbah Club, Abbey Road, and much, much more. I even toured Paul and Mike's boyhood bedrooms.
About a month later, prior to Bonnaroo, I set up an interview with James McCartney, the only son of Paul and Linda. Prior to his father's set that night, I chatted with James about his own music career, as well as what it has been like growing up a McCartney. The following day, a modest James performed at one of the festival's more intimate stages, with the excitement from his father's headlining set the previous night still reverberating throughout the festival's dusty lanes.
But I still had one more McCartney-filled night ahead of me - the night where Sir Paul's Out There tour stopped in my hometown of Indianapolis to play a sold-out Banker's Life Fieldhouse The show marked McCartney's first return to our city since 2002, and I wouldn't have to cross an ocean or travel hours to take in more of his legacy.
Opening with the 1964 Beatles' classic, "Eight Days A Week," Paul brought the energy throughout his three-hour set, playing an expansive mix of Beatles, Wings and solo material. Hel had the same charm that I had remembered from his Bonnaroo appearance.
Despite his worldwide rockstar fame, Paul still somehow remains genuinely personable on stage. Standing by his British humor, he pulls listeners into his own world with honest storytelling. For instance, after playing a bit of Hendrix's "Foxy Lady," Paul told the story of how Jimi had covered "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" a matter of days after the iconic album's release, and how much that had meant to him.
A lot can be said for how great Paul's voice still sounds at his age, making his way through songs he wrote decades ago with no trouble whatsoever. Perhaps more notable to me was the fact that this 71-year-old man retained energy throughout his three-hour, double-encore performance. Closing out his initial set with "Back In The U.S.S.R.," "Let It Be," "Live And Let Die" and the angelic, crowd-uniting "Hey Jude," Paul met all expectations, despite the magnitude of the task at hand.
Beatles' songs dominated Paul's encores, including early hits ("I Saw Her Standing There," "Day Tripper," and "Yesterday,") as well as latter classics, including a raging "Helter Skelter" and the beautifully orchestrated ending to Abbey Road. While "The End" most likely terminated my summer of McCartney, Paul's legacy as a genuinely personable rockstar is one that will remain with me for the rest of my life.