In my youth, I attended a fair number of rock and roll concerts. I saw all the acts I genuinely cared about (at least those who still performed)—Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, John Mellencamp, the Eagles, Jimmy Buffett, and yes, Paul McCartney.
In June 2017, when I learned that McCartney was coming to the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth, Georgia—about 26 miles from my house—I debated whether I should attend. I had seen Sir Paul perform twice (in 1990 and 2005), and I had enjoyed the experiences immensely. Still, my initial reaction was, “been there, done that.” My concert-attending days mostly have been over for a decade or so. Also, the tickets were horrendously expensive.
And then I thought of my grandson, Ellie. He is eight years old. He has lived with me since he was four (almost five) years old. He has been inside my car on numerous occasions when I have played my ancient Beatles CDs. He knows many of the old songs by heart. I decided, therefore, that it was time to see the old master perform one final time. Ellie would accompany me to his first-ever rock concert.
Sir Paul performed on Thursday, July 13, 2017, from 8:15 p.m. until 11:10 p.m.—almost three hours. That’s quite a feat for a man who recently turned 75 years old. He was graying at the temples, but no matter. He defied time. McCartney was a master showman who more or less delivered what his audience of 11,500 wanted. About half of the songs were Beatles classics and the others were tunes from McCartney’s solo career and his career with the band Wings.
Ellie and I stood up for most of the concert because the crowd stood up. I allowed Ellie to stand on the back of the chair in front of us while I kept my arm around his waist. He sang along with the Beatles songs he recognized, notably “Love Me Do,” “We Can Work It Out,” “Let It Be,” and “Hey Jude.” He also enjoyed other songs that he did not know. The visual effects and videos kept his attention. He was thrilled by the fireworks and pyrotechnics that accompanied the song “Live and Let Die.”
It was a long evening, but fun-filled. We did not arrive home until about 12:20 a.m. After a feast of corn dogs and popsicles, we retired at 12:45 a.m. Ellie and I were both exhausted.
Yes, I enjoyed the show—I knew that I would—but what made it unforgettable was watching Ellie’s face. He was thoroughly immersed in the experience. He marveled at the band, the spectacle of the lights and special effects, and the roar of appreciation from the crowd.
I bought him a Paul McCartney t-shirt—it was miles too big for him, but they had only adult sizes for the shirt he liked—and a souvenir program, but those were merely physical mementos. Ellie will remember the concert long after Sir Paul and I have departed the scene.
Perhaps one day, sixty years from now, he will regale his own grandchildren with his fond remembrances of watching Paul McCartney perform live. No doubt the children will groan. “We told you, grandpa, we don’t know who that is, and we’re tired of hearing the same old story.”
That is as it should be.