It was almost a religious experience. I spent much of the time reminding myself that the actual man was standing right there in front of me. (Note: I’ve never been to a concert from such a star before.)
We sat about midway at the side of the arena, and I had to keep tearing my eyes off the big screens featuring close-ups of him. I’ve seen him hundreds of times in concert videos, Anthology, documentaries, movies – going to see him in person, and just looking at yet another screen, did not give me what I needed. It would not have differed significantly from sitting in my living room. I wanted to look directly at him – in the flesh. Him, in person. After all, he is royalty. Rock royalty. He is Sir Paul.
And so, I did. I couldn’t see his facial expressions much (but glanced at the screens at times to try to catch them). But it was worth it. The constantly running internal monolog, still trying to process his presence – “that’s him right there, it’s him right in front of you, look at him – he’s a person.”
(When the lights glared off Paul’s guitar and into my eyes, I thought to myself, “The light is coming off of Paul McCartney’s guitar and right into my eyes! Those light particles are touching his guitar and then my eyes! It’s almost like physically touching!” Okay, yes, I know, silly, but still – how often in life does the light bounce off a Person of Magnitude’s instrument and into your eyes? All right, I told you it was almost a religious experience. So don’t laugh too hard. Respect my religion!)
From where we were seated, when Paul sat down at the piano for several songs, I could see him from an angle to his side and from behind. This was an angle from which I’d never watched him play before. Most videos show him head-on, and you can’t watch him play. I watched him play. I watched him put his shoulders into the music. I – personally, in his presence – watched his hands roam the keys, and his forearms pistoning as he played his riffs. I watched Paul McCartney play piano. One of my instruments as well, so I could physically relate to what he was doing – so it was kind of mano-a-mano. Okay, not really. But – in those minutes, watching Paul play, I was watching the man play piano – as a man, as a person – he was just a person, playing the piano. Paul McCartney The Great, Sir Paul, the ultimate in pop/rock royalty, was just a person sitting in front of me, playing the piano. He wasn’t a god, he was just a person. And, after all the High Glorification of all these decades, that was a feeling I’m still having trouble wrapping my brain around.
He is just a person who writes music and performs. So am I. I’ll never be Sir Paul. I’ll never be to that level. But it’s still who I am.
Before the concert, a friend and I traded sympathies that Paul is engaged again. “That’s only because he hasn’t met ME yet,” we quipped to each other. But truth to tell, Paul would not like me. I would challenge him too much.
Yes, I would challenge Sir Paul.
For example, I’ve always wondered…after all the great, GREAT (in capitals) music he’s responsible or at least partially-responsible for – wtf is up with “Let ‘Em In”??? Seriously! “Someone’s knockin’ at the do-OH. Somebody ringin’ the bell. Do me a favor, open the door, let ‘em in.” Come onnnnnnnnnnnnn Paul. And the same for “Silly Love Songs.” At that point in his career, I’d always wondered, did Paul figure, “I can put out anything and it would be a hit”? Was he merely resting on his laurels and testing the boundaries of what drivel the public would revere from him? Seeing how far he could push it?
I mentioned this question to someone once; they responded critically toward me, “THAT’S what you would ask The Great Paul McCartney?!?” As if my lack of sycophantation was yet more proof of my horrible character. But yes, that’s what I might ask (as if, if I had the chance, any sound would emit from my mouth at all, besides a weak, giggly “Hi!”). BECAUSE he’s obviously so capable of much better stuff. Did he really think these were good? Or was he testing a Pablum for the Public theory? (With success, I might add.)
So I would challenge him. I would challenge him every which way. And I have the sense that he wouldn’t like that. So, sigh, Paul and I are never meant to be.
But that’s okay. He would keep me from my own pursuits, anyway.