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Paul Paul, we love you most of all

That’s something I wrote and chanted in 1964. Already demonstrating my enormous talent for rhyme.

It’s midnight and I’m just home from a fantastic evening with my sweetie, Paul McCartney. Thank you, my Paul, for delivering such joy. He is the most amazing performer – indefatigable, on and on, song after song, chatting endlessly with the audience – I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a star make such an easy-going, sweet-natured bond between stage and crowd. And it was a crowd, the Air Canada Centre full to the rafters, 17,000 people – not the 2 or 300,000 of Quebec City, but this was inside, much easier to see the band, amazing special effects – and I on the centre floor in the 31st row. Yes, he was small, but not that small. I could see that lithe, energetic figure quite clearly – though the giant screens helped, of course.

He bantered constantly. He arrived in a plain black jacket, the same one, I think, that he wore to win his award at the White House. When he took it off and rolled up the sleeves of his plain white shirt, he said, “That’s it for tonight’s wardrobe changes. That’s the only one.” He told a long, funny story about Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton (ask me and I’ll tell it to you), he told us that his Auntie Edie, who’d emigrated from Liverpool many years ago and is now a Canadian, was in the audience and dedicated a song to her. When his drummer danced during one song, he said, “No expense has been spared on this tour. That’s our fancy choreography. Lady Gaga, eat your heart out.”
He told us that it’s hard work up there, he has to remember the chord changes, the words, the harmonies, and so he says to himself, when people below wave signs in his face, “Don’t look and get distracted. Concentrate.” But he looks anyway. One girl had a sign asking him to sign her arm, and he joked that she’d cut her arm off and sell it on eBay. But at the end, he asked her up on stage. There she was – Lila, was it? – from Saskatchewan, about 18, wriggling with ecstasy in her shredded jeans, when he signed her arm.
He mentioned how much they enjoy the “spread of the audience,” and it’s true – from small children (who I hope had earplugs) to the elderly. On one side of me, a couple in their late sixties who’d driven down from Barrie; on the other side, a very skinny gay man with chains drooping from his jeans. In front, a couple in their seventies, both as wide as they were high, and beside them, a boy of about 21 with a long pony-tail, either stoned or extremely musical, who waved his arms, danced and sang the words to every single song, and beside him, a tight forty-something man in a Grateful Dead hat who kept checking his Blackberry. By the end, everyone was dancing and singing. Especially moving, always, is Hey Jude – 17,000 people singing to Paul.
I wept, of course. The songs are so often about love, kindness, the wide world. There was a montage of Obama, at one point, and a slender globe descended from the heavens at another.
And oh … the music. The band is even tighter than it was in Quebec, playing stunningly good, tight, rocking blasting sophisticated fabulous rock and roll. Paul switching guitars for each song, then playing incredible honkytonk piano, then Blackbird all alone with his guitar, then a ukelele, a mandolin, a steel string, back to the bass he played in the Sixties. The band go from quiet ballads to Helter Skelter without a second’s pause. Oh the joy of those songs, Obladi Oblada, Eleanor Rigby, A Day in the Life, Let it be. Get Back, Paperback Writer, what great songs, what a beat. He sang George’s Something with film clips of George in the background. (There was a terrific video backup for every song.) He paid tribute, as always, to John too, and to Linda. This is a man with many ghosts on stage with him.
He played Mull of Kintyre and a pipe band appeared, in full Scottish kilted regalia, with many bagpipes and big drums – the Paris/Port Dover Pipe Band. He came on waving a Canadian flag and at the end, when he played Sergeant Pepper, a giant Canadian flag appeared behind him and then a blue Leafs flag, and when he left the stage, the air exploded with red and white paper, raining down like patriotic snow. We were all smiling. He was generous, funny, quick, he played for more than 3 hours, and I have loved him for 46 years.
My cab driver home told me about the concert he went to yesterday, the greatest Pakistani star called Atif Aslam, ten thousand people in a field north of Toronto. We both sighed with pleasure at our memories. Music music music. What a miracle it is.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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