Paul McCartney twists, shouts at Oakland Arena for ‘Got Back’ tour

Photo of Paul McCartney singing
Nora Povejsil/Senior Staff

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To watch Paul McCartney perform live is to be in a state of awe. The former Beatle gleams with posh ethereality, twinkling under fluorescent lights and enamoring audiences bewildered to revel in the same air as one of the greatest musicians of all time.

Intertwining intimate memories with hits from his extensive discography, McCartney evoked the delight of the empyrean May 6 at Oakland Arena, inviting fans to relish in the stories and songs that compose his illustrious career. 

Nearing his eightieth birthday, McCartney maintains the same dynamic stage presence he fostered in the ’60s, bridging bubbly zeal with poignant melodies. With a set over two hours long, McCartney never slowed down, using each moment onstage to celebrate his lauded artistry.

Walking from side to side on the stage, McCartney waved to eager fans and pumped his fist in the air before jumping into the Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Sounds of revelry flooded the venue as McCartney bounced up and down with amusement, voice crooning with sentiment.  

“We’ve got some new songs, some old songs and some in-between ones,” McCartney announced, scanning the colossal crowd before him. Prior to continuing the show, he took pause to drink in the moment, noting his astonishment at the grandness of his audience. It seems, despite McCartney’s ample achievements, he will never fully grasp the extent to which his music has affected generations. 

Aglow under watercolor lights, McCartney sang through his career — everything from the Beatles to Wings to his solo stint. Sparkling with seismic talent, he interchanged instruments with ease, fluidly transitioning from bass guitar to acoustic guitar to piano to ukulele. 

The entirety of the show shone with a saccharine varnish as McCartney reflected on the relationships that have guided his musical prowess. During “My Valentine,” McCartney pointed to his wife, Nancy Shevell, in the crowd, attributing the song’s affectionate lyrics to their relationship. 

Pictures of McCartney throughout his youth served as a surprising emotional backdrop for a set already simmering with nostalgia. Silhouetted by photos and videos of him with his former bandmates, McCartney beamed with incandescence and pride.

Interspersing his set with quippy anecdotes, McCartney invited concertgoers to soak in his potent memories. From his friendship with Jimi Hendrix to his life prior to Beatles fame, McCartney embodies decades of musical excellence. 

Paying tribute to John Lennon and George Harrison, he performed songs in their honor, wistfully admitting that the Beatles were merely four boys who never got to express what they meant to one another. Elevated on a tall platform, McCartney’s “Here Today” rang through the venue with solace, taking on the form of a letter he wished he could have sent to Lennon. Voice raw with grief, he warbled doleful lyrics that served as a collective lament among concertgoers. 

Playing a ukulele Harrison gifted him decades ago, McCartney softly sang “Something.” Under a spotlight, he vulnerably sang Harrison’s lyrics, letting audience members take part in belting the chorus before the rest of his band interposed, completing the song in its finished form. 

Despite these tender moments, McCartney was nothing short of grandeur. “Live and Let Die” energized the crowd as bursts of flames lit up the stage with frenetic fervor. Fireworks shimmered above McCartney, blasting with startling ferocity. 

Though this splendor coruscated within the venue, McCartney was at his most captivating when he established a personable rapport with his audience, singing his most intimate songs alongside those who have entangled their identities with the acclaimed musician.

Holding onto one another, concertgoers of all ages swayed from side to side, tears streaming down their faces as McCartney soulfully played the opening notes of “Hey Jude.” Dreamy and nearly inexplicable, McCartney earnestly entranced the crowd, playing one of the greatest songs of all time as if it were the last time it would ever be performed.

Contact Sarah Runyan at [email protected].