Less than 24 hours after news of the horrific terror attack at a Las Vegas country music festival broke, Paul McCartney took the stage at Detroit’s brand-new Little Caesars Arena. Fresh off the whirlwind of a news day that included the false-starts regarding the declining health of Tom Petty, Paul looked into the sold-out crowd with a forlorn smile, saying, “Today has been a very sad day, but we’re just going to try to enjoy ourselves, alright?” Then he counted the band off, and out rang that iconic opening chord of “Hard Day’s Night,” immediately washing away all reservations of attending a large-scale show in the wake of a senseless tragedy.
At 75, McCartney’s voice is still sharp as ever, and his dexterity across every instrument put in front of him is completely astounding. Over the course of just over three hours, he hopped across the stage, switching from bass to electric guitar to acoustic guitar to piano and back. Did I know he could play the guitar? Yes, of course. Did I know he could shred a solo in a back-and-forth with his lead guitarist? No, I can’t say that I ever even considered it.
With a career-spanning set reaching all the way back to pre-Beatles group the Quarrymen for a performance of “In Spite Of All The Danger” and working right up to a rendition of his “FourFiveSeconds” collaboration with Kanye West and Rihanna, McCartney hit all the marks to satisfy every fan in attendance.
About halfway through the 40-song set, Paul held up both of his hands, with two fingers extended as the band launched into “Give Peace A Chance,” a rendition of John Lennon’s classic Vietnam-era anthem that took on a whole new meaning after the events of Las Vegas, creating an immensely moving and powerful few minutes of call-and-response as attendees held signs adorned with hearts surrounding the word “Vegas.”