Old Brown Shoe
Join Date: Sep 21, 2001
Re: Driving USA Articles
...from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
(no link, sorry)
McCartney keeps audience remembering that they're alive
By DAVE TIANEN
of the Journal Sentinel staff
Last Updated: April 11, 2002
Chicago - He even brought balloons.
Paul McCartney performs Wednesday at the United Center in Chicago, during his
Driving USA Tour.
It was apparent Wednesday night at the United Center that Paul McCartney has
decided to lift the spirits of a nation.
The baby boomers in his audience probably were feeling a bit frayed even
before the recession and Sept. 11.
Increasingly conscious of their own aging, they've had to confront the loss
of old friends such as George Harrison and the nearing horizon of their own
Who better to serve then as their official morale officer than Paul
McCartney? At 59, the cute Beatle has softened at the jawline, but there are
still vestiges of those boyish good looks. He remains trim, energetic and,
more importantly, cheerful, optimistic and - it's an odd adjective for a rock
superstar - friendly.
After all these years, it's clear the fans still see him first, second and
third as a Beatle.
The crowd at the first of two sold-out shows at the United Center was on its
feet for the first half-dozen songs in the set.
When McCartney finally got to "Lonely Road," a song from his new album,
"Driving Rain," they sat down. They still applauded politely, even warmly,
but it was obvious this was not what they came to hear.
It's interesting how McCartney deals with his illustrious past.
The Driving USA Tour deftly revisits the past but refuses to live in it.
There was a respectable sampling of new material: the new album's title
track, "Freedom" and "Your Loving Flame," plus his song for the film "Vanilla
Sky." There's also a swath of solo and Wings' material: "Jet," "Band on the
Run," "Maybe I'm Amazed" and "Live and Let Die."
Yet in the three-hour show there were lots of Beatles memories for the fans
Some of them are the obvious monsters: "Yesterday," "Hey Jude," "Can't Buy Me
Love," "Lady Madonna," "I Saw Her Standing There." But there are lesser gems
as well: "Mother Nature's Son," "Carry That Weight," "Getting Better" "Back
in the U.S.S.R." and "The End."
Deploying those album tracks is a smart use of a huge catalog. They give the
tour something fresh and unexpected while still evoking the Beatles.
In many ways, Driving USA is a simply produced show (McCartney is backed by a
band of five younger players), but it does make lavish use of video on
"Can't Buy Me Love" was accompanied by that frolic-in-the-park segment from
"Hard Day's Night," and for "All My Loving" they brought back footage of all
those little girls shrieking through chain-link fences at the Beatles'
arrival in America. If you're of a certain age, it's hard not to smile at the
memories of that long-ago hysteria.
Even the moments of sadness were handled with a touch of humor. McCartney's
old partner John Lennon was saluted with the self-effacing "Here Today."
And then he came to George. McCartney sang "Something." As a solo. With a
ukulele. It was a moment both affectionate and whimsical. You have to think a
gentle spirit such as George Harrison would have liked it a lot.
One of the likable things about McCartney is the way he coaxes an adoring
throng of 20,000 people to see him not as a rock icon but as a person and a
He dresses simply. Nothing theatrical: short-sleeved pullover and jeans. And
for a long segment in the middle of the show, it was just McCartney on stage
with an acoustic guitar, or with accordionist Wix Wickens. He chatted about
how he came to write "Blackbird" as a reaction to the American civil rights
It was an extended passage of club-like intimacy in what figured to be a
At the end, he did something very clever.
Throughout the evening there had been big-screen color projections of the
star on stage, interspersed with black-and-white footage of his Beatles'
For "I Saw Her Standing There," the performing Paul was projected again, but
this time in black and white.
And there was still just enough boyish energy and good looks to connect the
man on stage with the fresh-faced kid who serenaded the world in 1964. You
could tell it was the same guy.
And in that moment, 20,000 people felt a little younger.
Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on April 12, 2002.
"Because there wasn't any reason left to keep it all inside"
- Paul McCartney, 1982