Getting back and getting better: Paul McCartney is in reflective, celebratory mood at first stadium show in three years

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·Editor in Chief, Yahoo Music
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Paul McCartney performs during his Got Back tour at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on Friday, May 13, 2022. (Photo: Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)
Paul McCartney performs during his Got Back tour at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on Friday, May 13, 2022. (Photo: Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

Paul McCartney’s current Got Back concert tour may have nothing to do with a similarly titled Sir Mix-a-Lot song, but the legendary Beatle likes big shows and he cannot lie. Following his trio of “intimate” (read: 12,000-19,000-capacity) concerts in Spokane, Seattle, and Oakland, on May 13 he touched down at Los Angeles’s brand-new SoFi Stadium to perform for 70,000 delighted spectators, at his first proper stadium gig since the COVID-19 pandemic and the massive Inglewood venue’s first concert of 2022.

“We said we’d come back,” he declared Friday. “And we got back.”

The tour’s name, of course, is a cheeky nod to Peter Jackson’s epic Get Back docuseries, which compiled eight hours of mostly never-seen footage originally captured for Michael Lindsay-Hogg's documentary about the Beatles’ Let It Be album; the three-night Disney+ event inspired countless marathon viewing sessions throughout Thanksgiving weekend last year, and re-whetted fans’ appetites for as much Beatles content as possible. In that spirit, McCartney treated Friday's L.A. crowd to a marathon session of his own, playing 36 songs over the course of nearly three hours, all delivered with the same joyous and jocular vibes of Get Back's studio jam sessions.

Paul McCartney's SoFi Stadium May 13th setlist. (Photo: SoFi Stadium)
Paul McCartney's SoFi Stadium May 13th setlist. (Photo: SoFi Stadium)

With McCartney’s 80th birthday approaching next month (just two days after the Got Back tour wraps in New Jersey), he was, understandably, in a wistful and reflective mood. Perhaps that would be expected from a man who's made no apologies for penning silly love songs, but this time, such moments hit different. During “Maybe I’m Amazed,” McCartney’s classic ballad penned for his late first wife Linda, SoFi’s jumbotron screens flashed a famous 1969 black-and-white photo, taken by Linda, of Paul cuddling their baby daughter Mary — after which he mused to the crowd in amazement, “That baby in my jacket has now got four babies of her own.”

He also paid tribute to his late bandmates, strumming a rendition of George Harrison's best-loved ballad “Something” on a ukulele (an instrument Harrison loved to play) while a montage of black-and-while photos of George and Paul in happier times flickered on the video screens. Then there was McCartney's 1982 ode to John Lennon, “Here Today,” in which he expressed his affection for his fallen friend in a way he was never able to in real life. (“Don’t wait to tell the people you care about most that you love them,” McCartney urged the teary-eyed SoFi audience.) Both songs have become Macca sentimental setlist staples over the years, but a virtual, isolated-vocal “I’ve Got a Feeling” duet between McCartney and Lennon, masterminded by Get Back director Jackson, was especially impactful. And at one point McCartney really got back, all the way back to 1958, with “In Spite of All the Danger,” the first song recorded by the Quarrymen, the proto-Beatles teen group comprising McCartney, Lennon, Harrison, pianist John “Duff” Lowe, and drummer Colin Hanton.

Fans probably hoped for another surprise appearance by surviving Beatle Ringo Starr, who had come out for “Helter Skelter” on the final date of McCartney’s 2019 tour at L.A.’s Dodger Stadium. But the presence all four Beatles members was felt Friday, as McCartney ran through a whopping 21 Fab Four tunes with his longtime band lineup of guitarist Rusty Anderson, guitarist/bassist Brian Ray, multi-instrumentalist Paul “Wix” Wickens, and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr.

Shifting mainly between his iconic Hofner bass and a psychedelic electric piano, McCartney led the audience (which included Muse’s Matt Bellamy and the Police’s Stewart Copeland) through multiple “Kumbaya”-style singalongs (“Let It Be,” “Hey Jude,” and “Ob‐La‐Di, Ob‐La‐Da” seemed to be fan favorites). By the time he and his band emerged for the encore of “Golden Slumbers”/“Carry That Weight”/“The End” brandishing Ukrainian, American, British, Californian, and LGBTQ+ rainbow flags, it was impossible not to be more than a little awestruck, and even a little choked-up. The impact of McCartney and the Beatles is almost easy to take for granted at times, but no one was taking it for granted tonight.

Paul McCartney’s SoFi Stadium setlist was:

Can't Buy Me Love

Junior's Farm

Letting Go

Got to Get You Into My Life

Come On to Me

Let Me Roll It

Getting Better

Let 'Em In

My Valentine

Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five

Maybe I'm Amazed

We Can Work It Out

In Spite of All the Danger

Love Me Do

Dance Tonight

Blackbird

Here Today

New

Lady Madonna

Fuh You

Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!

Something

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

You Never Give Me Your Money

She Came in Through the Bathroom Window

Get Back

Band on the Run

Let It Be

Live and Let Die

Hey Jude

I've Got a Feeling

Birthday

Helter Skelter

Golden Slumbers

Carry That Weight

The End

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