My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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Paul McCartney played a rock festival in Tennessee a few weeks ago, and was reviewed in “Rolling Stone” magazine. Was it a sneering put-down? Guess. And this is the show I will be seeing in less than a week, in Ottawa.

June 15, 2013 11:39 AM ET
Paul McCartney may have played 24 Beatles classics and seven Wings gems in a whopping, two-and-a-half-hour set at Bonnaroo last night in Manchester, Tennessee, but that doesn’t make him an oldies act. Seeing the 70-year-old Beatle, whose voice has hardly aged a day since Please Please Me, play universally loved, time-transcending staples like “Let It Be,” “Eight Days a Week” and “Yesterday” – selections from inarguably the most influential song book in pop music history – in 2013 (and all in their original keys!) is like being able to go see Abraham Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg Address in person. It’s a privilege for anyone born in the last half century to hear this music performed live, in the moment, and with such grace, by the man who composed them. That wasn’t lost on the 80,000-or-so elated festivalgoers that congregated for Macca’s extraordinary performance on the What Stage.
As a festival, Bonnaroo has come to be defined by its diversity. For example, Malian worldbeat duo Amadou and Mariam, bookish indie stars Grizzly Bear and hip-hop legends the Wu-Tang Clan performed within hours of each other yesterday. But the main-stage headliner always plays unopposed, the idea being that entire Bonnaroo community can coalesce around a single artist. Across cultural, generational and aesthetic lines, whose catalogue could possibly be more universal than McCartney’s? The answer: Nobody’s.
And that made this the single greatest Bonnaroo headlining performance in the festival’s 12-year history, as it was moment after awesome moment of fever-pitched collective transcendence. “Paperback Writer,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Band on the Run,” “Blackbird,” “Something” (played in tribute to George Harrison), “Eleanor Rigby,” “We Can Work It Out,” “Hey Jude” – to have not gotten swept up in and invigorated by the life-affirming celebration would be an outright rejection of joy. When it came to the Bonnaroo crowd, playful, more-whimsical set-list selections like “Your Mother Should Know,” “Lady Madonna,” “All Together Now” and “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da” – which felt like an 80,000-strong saloon sing-along – matched the festival’s quirky aesthetic, thus getting the rowdiest reactions of the set. Though an amped-up “Day Tripper” and ever savage “Helter Skelter” were more than enough to satisfy hard rock fans, a fall-of-Saigon-worthy fireworks display onstage and overhead that deafened and dazzled the crowd will inevitably be one of the most raved-about moments in the set.
McCartney himself also reveled in the moment as well, telling stories and bantering to individual audience members. “Free Pussy Riot!” he proclaimed in earnest before “Let It Be.” “That’s some pretty good weed I can smell,” he noted at another point, also likely in earnest.
Now the question is, how will Bonnaroo ever top this?

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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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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

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Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


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