McCartney's rock of ages
McCartney opens U.S. concert tour to generations of Bay Area admirers
Eight-year-old Oona Murley wasn't even alive the last time Paul McCartney rolled through the Bay Area, but she was there last night, way up in the nosebleed seats, singing along as Sir Paul belted out one classic hit after another.
She knew most of the words, too, and screamed herself silly with her 10- year-old sister Hannah and their 40-year-old mother, Sandy Hollimon.
That's right. Rock 'n' roll is now family fare. The music your parents hated is the music your kids adore.
"His music is timeless," said Hollimon, who lives near Fort Ross in Sonoma County. "(My kids) respond to it because it is of the highest quality."
That much was clear last night at sold-out Oakland Arena, where the 59-year- old McCartney launched his first concert tour since 1993. The great custodian of the Beatles' heritage left a multigenerational audience of 18,000 screaming for more as they followed him down memory lane.
"It's a link to our past," said Terry Barnes of Santa Rosa, who celebrated her 48th birthday by seeing a singer she has adored since childhood. "We watched them grow up as we grew up."
The appeal of McCartney and, by extension, the Beatles, transcends generations. Aging Baby Boomers danced alongside their kids, and a fair number of teens and twenty-somethings left mom and dad at home to see a man pushing 60 perform songs written before they were born.
"The bottom line is the music," said Rick Garcia, 25, of San Jose. "Good music is good music. It unites everybody."
WELL, NOT EVERYONE
The concert came on the same night the Oakland A's opened their season, and baseball fans couldn't quite understand all the fuss over an aging rock star.
"I don't really like the Beatles," said Alonzo Green, 38, who drove down from Weed (Siskiyou County) with his 3-year-old son Beniah to see the A's beat the Texas Rangers. "I can watch Paul McCartney on VH1."
McCartney fans are a lot like Grateful Dead fans but with deeper pockets and better fashion sense. They'll travel ridiculous distances and spend absurd amounts of money to see a man who, like the late Jerry Garcia, holds mystical power over them.
At 47, Rick Glover has seen McCartney perform more times than he can remember and skipped his own wedding anniversary to be there last night. He spent $250 to fly in from Atlanta and $285 for his concert ticket -- and another $285 for a ticket to tonight's sold-out performance in San Jose.
"I'm looking at spending two grand for these two shows," he said nonchalantly. "And that doesn't count the T-shirts."
Oh yes. The official souvenir T-shirts. They started at 40 bucks. The fancy tie-dyed ones went for $65. Mike McAllister, 42, of Sussex County, N.J., bought one. And an official tour program. And an official tour magnet. He decided against the official tour ball cap.
"It was cheap -- $105 for everything," he said with a grin.
REMEMBER WHEN, IN '64
The cheap seats -- if they could be called that -- were $50. But the folks streaming into Oakland Arena were only too happy to add to McCartney's vast fortune. Many have been fans since childhood and remember staring, transfixed, as the Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan Show.
"Feb. 9, 1964. Sunday. Eight o'clock," said Jane Law, 50, of Danville. "It's burned into my memory."
Law's 15-year-old son Andrew has seen the performance, too, albeit on videotape. He shares his mother's love for a band both agree changed the world.
"I grew up with it," Andrew said. "I can remember being 5 years old and hearing 'Hey Jude' for the first time. It goes beyond generations. His music appeals to everyone."
It helps that McCartney is such a nice guy. John Lennon may have been the band's tormented genius, George Harrison its introspective mystic and Ringo Starr its jovial clown, but McCartney was, for many fans, the one with the common touch.
"He's an Everyman," Andrew said. "Well, a really rich, godlike Everyman."
Even at his age, McCartney -- who still looks pretty much like he did when Beatlemania swept America in 1964 -- can still make the girls swoon.
"He is so charming," said 20-year-old Ida Mazmanian of Orinda. Apparently charming is what they call someone too old to be called cute.
Mazmanian's 14-year-old sister, Rose, wasn't so sure.
"I actually like Ringo the best," she said. "But Paul's good, too."
Jeremy Hull, 20, of Pleasant Hill, couldn't care less about any of them. As his mother headed into the arena to see McCartney, he and several friends wandered over to Network Associates Coliseum for the A's game.
"I like the A's, man," he said. "These crazy hippies can have their Paul McCartney. I'm here for baseball."
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