Fort Wayne’s Allen County War Memorial Coliseum has been standing tall since 1952. I say this with no conjecture, the night of Paul McCartney’s June 3rd concert has got to be one of the finest nights those walls have ever held. 

McCartney who turns 77 on June 18th, delivered a night of music that included 38 songs that spanned the Beatles, Wings and his solo songbook.  The night lasted almost 3 hours was kicked things off in grand fashion with “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Junior’s Farm” and “All My Loving.”  A golden triple shot that got the fans off their feet and singing and dancing in aisle.

Surely with an anthology such as his, McCartney could have chugged along song to song the whole night with guaranteed smiles everywhere. Thankfully, nestled between every couple of songs he shared stories from throughout his life and career. 

One highlight was when McCartney spoke about seeing Jimi Hendrix perform “Sgt. Pepper’s” just a few days after its release and Hendrix played it so hard on his guitar that he knocked the guitar completely out of tune and after the song he was looking for Eric Clapton in the crowd to tune it so he could continue. 

An emotional moment came between a solo acoustic version of “Blackbird” and “Here Today.” McCartney was standing 20 or so feet above the crowd on an elevated stage talking about John Lennon, explaining how important it is to let your loved ones know how you feel because you never know what tomorrow will bring. 

That was not the night’s only touching and personal moment.  While McCartney was handed a ukulele, he spoke of his friendship with his former Beatles band mate George Harrison.  It was Harrison who had given him that ukulele as they sat one day playing music at Harrison’s home.  As McCartney launched into “Something,” the large screen at the back of the stage faded though a historic set of photos from their days together but the one that seemed to linger on screen the longest was beautiful photo of Paul resting his head on Harrison’s shoulder while in the studio.  That image indeed spoke a thousand words. 

This night, McCartney was able to work the emotions of the room with the ease of a roller coaster attendant’s flip of a switch. One minute the Coliseum was rocking out to “Back in the U.S.S.R” then swaying to the sing-a-long “Let It Be” with phones held high lighting up the room, to pyro and explosions during “Live or Let Die” that would make metal gods Slayer smile with delight, before McCartney went right back behind the piano for another sing-a-long in “Hey Jude.”  WOW, what a ride!

At a time when most musicians of his age and stature have settled into a Greatest Hits and fun cover song set-list, one of the things that really stands out with McCartney is that he is still recording and releasing music.  Thankfully he was able to make room for three of the songs off his 2018 release, Egypt Station.  Newbies “Fuh You,” “Who Cares” and “Come on To Me” fit right into the evening’s set-list perfectly.  

Scattered throughout the rest of the night where plenty of legendary songs that this crowd all knew by heart including “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and “Helter Skelter.”

McCartney who is in his sixth decade of music has such a deep bag of songs to reach into that there is always going to be something missing but again when a performer showers you with 38 songs what more could you have asked for?  This tour which is entitled the Freshen Up Tour, one can only wonder where is he going to go from here. – Sean McCloskey

Paul McCartney’s latest release