McCartney concert makes for Fab Firefly

Sir Paul McCartney performed his first concert in Delaware Friday night as part of the Firefly Music Festival in the Woodlands of Dover International Speedway. Sir Paul blasted through a 34-song show covering many favorites from his Beatles, Wings and solo career in front of an estimated crowd of 90,000 music fans. (Associated Press photo by Owen Sweeney)

Sir Paul McCartney performed his first concert in Delaware Friday night as part of the Firefly Music Festival in the Woodlands of Dover International Speedway. Sir Paul blasted through a 34-song show covering many favorites from his Beatles, Wings and solo career in front of an estimated crowd of 90,000 music fans. (Associated Press photo by Owen Sweeney)

DOVER — A couple of weeks ago when word came that Sir Paul McCartney’s concert during Friday’s second night of the Firefly Music Festival in Dover would be starting at 10 p.m. and lasting well past midnight, jokes flew that the aging rocker might need a nap for fear of falling asleep in the middle of the show.

Those jabs turned out to be unwarranted as the legendary lad from Liverpool delivered a career-spanning 34-song, two-hour-and-20-minute set, which delivered tunes from The Beatles and Wings right up to three songs from his latest album “New,” released in 2013.

McCartney setlist Birthday Save Us Got to Get You into My Life Let Me Roll It Foxy Lady (Instrumental) Paperback Writer My Valentine Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five The Long and Winding Road  Maybe I’m Amazed I’ve Just Seen a Face We Can Work It Out Another Day And I Love Her Blackbird Here Today New Queenie Eye Lady Madonna Eleanor Rigby Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! Something Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da Band on the Run Back in the U.S.S.R. Let It Be Live and Let Die Hey Jude ENCORE Hi, Hi, Hi Can’t Buy Me Love Helter Skelter Golden Slumbers Carry That Weight The End

McCartney setlist
Birthday
Save Us
Got to Get You into My Life
Let Me Roll It
Foxy Lady (Instrumental)
Paperback Writer
My Valentine
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
The Long and Winding Road
Maybe I’m Amazed
I’ve Just Seen a Face
We Can Work It Out
Another Day
And I Love Her
Blackbird
Here Today
New
Queenie Eye
Lady Madonna
Eleanor Rigby
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
Something
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Hey Jude
ENCORE
Hi, Hi, Hi
Can’t Buy Me Love
Helter Skelter
Golden Slumbers
Carry That Weight
The End

Although just hearing the songs would have been enough for the enthusiastic sold-out crowd of 90,000 strong who spent much of the night singing along with the catalogue of memories during Mr. McCartney’s first show in Delaware, his stage setup came complete with a host of pyrotechnics including lasers, fireballs and fireworks.

Throughout the night, images recollecting Sir Paul’s music legacy flashed on giant video screens, one behind him and two others flanking the stage.

For a half hour prior to the show, a career retrospective of sorts streamed down the two side screens along with many of his classic songs, perhaps giving a primer on his iconic body of work for those on the younger side of the multi-generational throng.

On the day after he turned 73 years old, McCartney opened the show precisely at 10 p.m. appropriately enough with the Beatles song “Birthday” off of The White Album.

Met with a thunderous ovation, he launched into “Save Us” from the “New” album before addressing the masses.

“Good evening, Firefly,” he said. “We’re going to have a bit of party in here tonight.”

His only verbal Delaware reference came later in the show when he asked how many in attendance were from Delaware, meeting with applause from about a quarter of the crowd.

Asking who was from the U.S. but not from Delaware got the biggest ovation, while asking who was from outside the country got a smattering of applause.

“On behalf of the tourism board, we welcome you,” he joked.

After his third song, “Got to Get You into My Life,” was complete, the dark blazer was already history on the warm but not oppressively hot evening.

By halfway through the night, his sleeves were rolled up and sweat was soaking his white open-collared shirt, a testament to how hard he was working to entertain the crowd.

At various points throughout the show, Mr. McCartney could be found just gazing into the huge mass of humanity assessing the sight of so many people who had traveled to Dover to hear him sing.

“You know, this is so cool. Let’s just take a minute to check this all out,” he said as his mouth hung agape before a big smile came over his face.

He played a variety of guitars throughout the evening and even a ukulele to begin “Something,” a song written by his Beatles bandmate George Harrison, whom he noted was an accomplished ukulele player.

Throughout the evening, he regaled the crowd with stories about his life and career.

After tearing through “Back in the USSR,” he told of the Beatles’ first trip to Russia and meeting the country’s minister of defense.

“He told me ‘The first song I ever bought was ‘Love Me Do,’” Mr. McCartney said.

He also recounted a story from another official who told him that the Russians learned English from Beatles records, a fact in which he seemed to take much pride.

He also recounted stories about Jimi Hendrix after playing an instrumental version of the Hendrix song “Foxy Lady.”

He did a song dedicated to his current wife Nancy, who he said was in the audience Friday night (“My Valentine”) and a classic that he noted was written for his late wife, Linda (“Maybe, I’m Amazed”).

The concert took a serious turn fairly early as he dedicated a soaring rendition of “The Long and Winding Road” to the victims of this past week’s shootings in Charleston, South Carolina.

“Let’s take a moment to pray for peace and harmony amongst people of different colors in the world,” he said before hitting the keys of his piano adorned with designs reminiscent of the cover of The Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” album.

He played “Blackbird,” a song written during the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, from a raised platform, and followed it up with “Here Today,” a tune that he penned lamenting one last conversation with the late John Lennon that he regretfully never got to have.

Following those somber moments, Mr. McCartney unleashed songs featuring familiar musical characters including “Eleanor Rigby,” “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” and “Lady Madonna.”

From there on out, it was one massive sing- and clap-along with “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Band on the Run,” “Back in the USSR,” “Let it Be,” “Live and Let Die” punctuated by fireworks and then “Hey Jude” that had most audience members with huge smiles on their faces, even those standing in the mud spots left from heavy rain the night before.

The crowd continued singing an improptu version of “Hey Jude” as they waited for Sir Paul to return to the stage for an encore.

When he did come back, he was carrying the U.S. flag, followed by his bandmates with a Union Jack and then finally the flag of Delaware.

“Do you Fireflies want to keep rocking?” he asked on his return.

The encore featured tunes such as “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Helter Skelter” and as appropriately as the show started, it concluded with “The End.”

The encore also featured Sir Paul calling a young woman to the stage who had a tattoo of a very young Mr. McCartney on her arm.

“This was when I was about 15,” he joked.

He signed the tattoo to her utter amazement.

As he left the stage following his six-song encore, he promised to return one day.

For Firefly and Delaware fans, they just hope he gives them enough time to get their voices back.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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