Seeing a living legend in concert: Paul McCartney in Pittsburgh

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“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

Paul McCartney ended his 2010 North American tour with this line in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And I was there to hear it.

“And in the end…”

I was raised as a Beatles fan. My mom owns every Beatles album ever released in the U.S., and everything from Beatles books to movies. (“A Hard Day's Night” is rated right up there with the classics in our house.) It was pretty much inevitable that my sister and I would turn out to be fans, as well. For years, we've watched Beatles specials with Mom on TV, flipped through old photos in Beatles books, and I even toyed with the idea of learning guitar or learning how to sing because of the Beatles. (Too bad I can't really sing in-key.)

And I decided I would add “take Mom to see Paul McCartney someday” to my ever-growing bucket list. I can actually cross that one off now.

When we found out Sir Paul was coming to Pittsburgh – one of my favorite cities – my sister and I decided that we were going to finally buy mom those tickets. After all, Paul's getting up there in years. How much longer will he really be touring? (Well, actually, judging from his performance, perhaps many more years. But, more on that later.)

We bought the tickets, invited one of Mom's friends with us, and surprised Mom with a “Christmas in July” gift that had her excited for weeks before the big day. On concert day, we piled into the car and fought the rush-hour traffic into downtown Pittsburgh to the brand new Consol Energy Center. The hour leading up to the show was a blur of Paul merchandise, concession stands, photographs, and plenty of anticipation.

Paul went on late. Nearly an hour late, in fact. But, once he took the stage, nobody seemed to care. He put on a fantastic show. Easily the best concert I've ever been to, and perhaps the best I will ever go to.

Opening songs

For someone pushing 70, Paul McCartney can still rock out. He played for 2 1/2 hours straight, without so much as a water break, and then came back on to play six more songs in two separate encores. And he was perfectly in tune the whole time.

The mix of music was perfect – some Beatles classics (like “Hey Jude,” Blackbird,” “Let it Be” and “Yesterday”), some Wings favorites (like “Jet” and “Live and Let Die”), and some of his more recent stuff (a favorite of mine was “Everybody Gonna Dance Tonight” from his 2007 album, complete with mandolin riff). He also included tributes to both George and John, rousing standing ovations from the audience.

And his band was fantastic, too. All the elements were spot-on.

“The long and winding road…”

As you can see, we didn't have fancy seats. We were up in the balcony, but we did have a straight-on view of the stage. This was perfect, because we could see Paul, but also had a great view of the two giant jumbotrons that flanked the stage.

He's adorable

Paul McCartney definitely knows how to put on a good show. He had the perfect amount of “chit-chat” in between his songs, sharing a few inspiration stories here and there, but mostly letting the music speak for itself. He also made sure to interact with the audience plenty, reading out some of the signs in the front row, making some jokes, and inviting a girl on stage so he could sign her thigh (she promised to get it tattooed there). A couple even got engaged in the crowd during his performance of “My Love,” and he congratulated them afterwards by name.

Some of my favorite songs he played included audience participation, such as “Hey Jude” and “Give Peace a Chance.”

“Hey Jude”
“Naa, na na nanana naaa.”
“Give peace a chance.”

I also loved the energetic “Paperback Writer,” “Back in the USSR” and, of course, “Let it Be.”

“Paperback Writer”
“Back in the USSR”
“Let it Be”

And everyone was really surprised when fire and fireworks accompanied “Live and Let Die,” lighting up the entire venue.

“Live and Let Die”
That was loud!

It's still pretty surreal to think that I saw Paul McCartney, one of the original pioneers of rock n' roll, live in concert. Amazing.

Love this face

And as if the 2 1/2 hour show wasn't enough, he came back on for not one, but TWO encores. The first one included a pretty intense rendition of “Helter Skelter.”

First encore

(We knew he'd come back for the second encore, because he hadn't played “Yesterday” yet… and what's a concert from an ex-Beatle without “Yesterday?”)

Second encore: “Yesterday”

After “Yesterday,” Paul closed the concert by playing the “Sgt. Pepper” reprise, along with “The End.”

A Sgt. Pepper farewell
Singing us thanks
The End

I don't think the Consol Energy Center could have hoped for a better inaugural concert. Paul McCartney is, and will probably remain, one of the greatest rock stars of all time.

And I think the best part of it all was looking around at the crowd and seeing such a diverse range of faces — young, old; male, female. Paul's music easily spans the generations, allowing fans of all sorts to “Come Together.”

Hopefully the tour's name (“Up and Coming Tour”) is only a sign of more good things to come for Paul.

And I know this for sure: If he comes back next year, we'll be there in the audience again.

“A Day in the Life”

Have you ever seen one of your favorite musical acts in concert?

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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15 Comments on “Seeing a living legend in concert: Paul McCartney in Pittsburgh

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  1. I actually did get is tattooed! Check out my TikTok girlonthe_flamingpie love this article

    […] tape (remember those?) was the Beatles’ “1” album. I even took my mom to go see Paul McCartney in concert back in […]

    I’ve been lucky to see him twice, most recently in 09 at Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. It was the 40th anniversary of Woodstock and it absolutely poured down rain during the concert. He joked that it was Woodstock in Atlanta…

      Twice! Lucky! I’m really glad I was finally able to take my mom. And, if he ever comes around on tour again nearby, we’ll definitely try to go again! The concert was fantastic.

    I went to the show earlier this year in LA and it was fab! I had never seen him before and I went with my mom and this was her third time seeing him. I got her and my dad tickets years ago to her first show (my dad saw The Beatles back in the 60’s!) and every time he has toured since, she tries to go, but I hadn’t been.

    I liked your review a lot (brought back some memories!) but I don’t know if I’ll go again. I like the early Beatles music the most and it felt like such a lull between songs that I didn’t know. I am really really glad I went, but that’ll prob be it for me

    (I am such a lag on blogs lately, I am finally getting to read the entries I saved back in August!! Oy!)

      Well at least you can say you’ve seen one of the Beatles, right? (And way cool that your dad saw them in the 60s! Lucky!!)

      I’m a fan of pretty much all Beatles music, and some of the stuff Paul has done since then. So I would definitely go see him again! Don’t know if I’ll ever get the chance, though (it seems like he doesn’t really make it to Ohio or PA very often), so I’m super glad we got to see him this year.

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

    Hello, i am the girl whos thigh he signed, and after seeing paul mccartney on saturday in philly for my 6th time i decided to buy tickets to see him in pittsburgh 2 days before the show, and well he picked me to come on stage to get a tattoo… he has been doing this every show, but when he asked what my name was i said loni marie mullaney from philadelphia, and pittsburgh booed me!!!! hehehe … i had a sign that read “I am the girl on the flaming pie( it was a drawing from his album flaming pie) tattoo it on my thigh!” so sir Paul signed my thigh and I’ve had it permanently tattooed. i did philly proud that is for sure!!!
    Loni Marie Mullaney this is the video i made

    these are some titles on youtube where you can see it live!

    YouTube – Loni Mullaney meets Paul McCartney
    YouTube – Sir Paul McCartney Autographs Loni Marie Mullaney
    YouTube – Girl gets thigh signed by Paul McCartney in Pittsburgh
    YouTube – Paul McCartney autographs Loni Mullaney so she can have it tattooed.
    YouTube – Paul McCartney signing a girl’s thigh – 8/19/10.

      Hi Loni! The video was fun, and it’s so awesome that you actually did get it tattooed on your thigh! Talk about a special tattoo!

      (And sorry that Pittsburgh booed you… lol.)

    A great job of reporting. Your story and photos saved me from having to buy tickets in the future. Keep up the good work.

    Beautiful pictures and comments. Glad you were able to attend with your mom and sister. Your mother always was crazy for the Beatles, Paul, George, Ringo and John. She really like Ringo as well. She had some other groups on her top list as well.

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