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July 6, 2022

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Quick thoughts on last night’s Paul McCartney show

Paul McCartney @ MGM

Justin M. Bowen

Paul McCartney performs at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Friday, June 10, 2011.

Paul McCartney @ MGM

Paul McCartney performs at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Friday, June 10, 2011. Launch slideshow »

The word “surreal” gets thrown around too often these days, but sitting a few feet from Yoko Ono as she watched Paul McCartney’s Friday night MGM Grand Garden Arena concert was nothing if not that. She mostly sat—next to son Sean Lennon—and watched from behind her sunglasses, but the famous “Hey Jude” “Na na na na” coda got her singing. She also stood up and waved peace signs when Paul transitioned from the John-sung Beatles classic “A Day in the Life” into John’s solo song, “Give Peace a Chance”—a scene captured on the production’s giant video screens. Seated near Ono in Section 117: George Harrison’s widow, Olivia, and Beatles producer George Martin, all in town to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Cirque du Soleil’s Love show.

* The 33-song monster of a setlist included a few surprises, including one that apparently caught the Macca team itself off guard. “We weren’t gonna do that one tonight,” McCartney said after “Maybe I’m Amazed.” “You should have seen the looks on the crew’s faces when I started playing it.”

* Best story of the night: The night Jimi Hendrix opened a show with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” a few days after the Beatles released the album of the same name. Paul said that after pulverizing his guitar during the song, Hendrix looked out into the crowd and asked if Eric Clapton was in the house … and if he could retune the instrument.

* Couldn't help but wonder what the peace-promoting Yoko must have thought of the noisy, toasty and rather foul smelling explosions and fireworks that accompanied “Live and Let Die,” especially since it awkwardly followed the gentle “Let It Be” in the order.

* McCartney sounded a bit hoarse in places, the first time I’ve detected that in five times seeing him, dating back to 1990. Paul played a Hewlett-Packard corporate concert one night earlier at the Venetian. Next time, maybe do the private gig after the public one?

Full review to follow in Thursday’s edition of Las Vegas Weekly.

The setlist:

“Magical Mystery Tour”

“Junior’s Farm”

“All My Loving”


“Got to Get You Into My Life”

“Sing the Changes”

“Let Me Roll It -> “Foxy Lady”

“The Long and Winding Road”

“Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five”

“Let ’em In”

“Maybe I’m Amazed”

“I’m Looking Through You”

“And I Love Her”


“Here Today”

“Dance Tonight”

“Mrs Vandebilt”

“Eleanor Rigby”


“Band on the Run”

“Ob-La-Di, “Ob-La-Da”

“Back in the U.S.S.R.”

“I’ve Got a Feeling”

“Paperback Writer”

“A Day in the Life” ->”Give Peace a Chance”

“Let It Be”

“Live and Let Die”

“Hey Jude”


“Day Tripper”

“Get Back”


“Helter Skelter”

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” - >”The End”

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