Paul McCartney Ready To Rock The Dome

Beatles fans will get their fill of hits at Paul McCartney’s Dome concert.

Paul McCartney performing at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 15 with his band. Rocco Carbone photo

Editor’s Note: We don’t want to spoil the party for you, so this Paul McCartney concert preview does not include a setlist from previous shows on this tour. If you’d like one, visit or

Sure, a Paul McCartney concert includes memorable songs from his days with Wings in the 1970s and as a solo artist since the 1980s. And those songs alone were enough to get McCartney inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

But from the iconic opening chord to “The End” (hint, hint), a McCartney concert in 2017 is filled with music from, images of, and stories about his first band, The Beatles. A McCartney concert is the closest we’re ever going to get to a Beatles concert, and — dare we say it — in some ways it’s better than a 1960s Beatles concert.

Paul McCartney performing at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 15 with his band. Rocco Carbone photo

McCartney and his first-rate band will bring their “One On One” tour to the Carrier Dome on Saturday, Sept. 23, 8 p.m. As of early this week, some obstructed-view tickets were available through Ticketmaster, and tickets above face value are available through reseller outlets such as Stub Hub and Vivid Seats.

It’s McCartney’s first concert in Syracuse. In 1993, he was scheduled to play at the Dome but cancelled the show, either to get ready for a Fox TV-televised concert in Charlotte a few days later (the official explanation) or because of lagging ticket sales (only 20,000 sold), or both.

To get a firsthand look at what we missed in 1993 and what we’ll see and hear Saturday, we traveled to New York City for his Sept. 15 sold-out show at Madison Square Garden. As with any McCartney concert since the late 1980s, the three-hour show was dominated by Beatles classics, as 28 of McCartney’s 40 songs were from the Fab Four.

(Note: McCartney’s shows on this tour have generally included 38 or 39 songs. On Sept. 15, he played an extra medley that he dedicated to John Lennon (“A Day In The Life/Give Peace A Chance”) and an extra song with special guest Bruce Springsteen (you’ll want to YouTube that one). It’s unlikely The Boss will show up Saturday, but you never know).

McCartney’s Beatles songs ranged from the very first song they put on a record when they were still The Quarrymen to songs from the final album they recorded in 1969, Abbey Road. Overall, he played songs from 10 different Beatles’ U.K. albums, plus singles that were not put on those albums but included on the U.S. albums.

Clearly, at age 75, McCartney can’t hit the high notes like he did in the 1960s or ’70s. But his voice, which sounded strained during last year’s concerts, was stronger at the Sept. 15 show. And his band, featuring Paul “Wix” Wickens on keyboards, Brian Ray on guitar/bass, Rusty Anderson on guitar and Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums, is a musical match for anything The Beatles recorded. Fun fact: McCartney’s current band lineup has been together longer than The Beatles: 15 years and counting.

A Beatles concert in the 1960s typically included 12 songs and lasted about 30 minutes. A McCartney concert in 2017 features three times as many songs and lasts about five times as long.

Obviously, we would all love to see John, Paul, George Harrison and Ringo Starr on the stage together again, even for one song. But McCartney is the next best thing, playing songs from the late 1960s that The Beatles never played live because they stopped touring in 1966. And even if John and George were alive today, and even if they did perform publicly, it’s doubtful they would embrace The Beatles’ legacy in the same way as Paul, the Beatle who most loved to perform live.

Whether it was his personal and legal feuds with the other Beatles, his drive to succeed with Wings, or his need for a break from the craziness of being in the world’s biggest band, McCartney distanced himself from The Beatles in the 1970s. His two major tours of the decade — a world tour with Wings in 1976 and a U.K. tour in 1979 — included only a few Beatles songs.

But in 1984, McCartney made a bad movie, Give My Regards to Broad Street, with a great soundtrack that included several remade Beatles classics and reached No. 1 on the U.K. chart. By 1989, McCartney was ready to tour again and he further reclaimed his Beatles past by playing several Beatles songs, including never-before-played-live songs such as “Hey Jude” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

In all of his tours since then, the bulk of McCartney’s setlist has featured Beatles songs, although he has released several critically acclaimed albums during that time. In Manhattan, McCartney acknowledged that he’s fully aware of which songs are most popular with the audiences, because they’re holding up their phones during those songs.

“When we play new songs, it’s like a black hole,” he joked. “But we don’t care: We’re going to play them anyway.”

He then played two songs from his most recent album (New, released in 2013) before finishing the final third of the show with mostly Beatles songs.

But it’s not just the music that screams Beatles. At Madison Square Garden, McCartney weaved in several stories and anecdotes about his old band. We won’t give too much away, but if you’re going to the concert you’ll hear about The Quarrymen’s first record, George Martin’s impact on the first Beatles single, and how John and Paul helped turned Mick Jagger and Keith Richards into the next John and Paul.

Along the way, McCartney played a song for his current wife, Nancy, and his wife of nearly 30 years, Linda. He played loving tributes to Lennon and Harrison, and he worked in a story that involved Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Who else could mention Lennon, Harrison, Jagger, Richards, Hendrix and Clapton and have it not feel like serious name-dropping?

In the end, the music makes the show and whether you’re a diehard Beatles fan or just a fan of music, you’ll appreciate that these songs are being sung and played by the same man who wrote and recorded them over the past 55 years. And throughout the show, perhaps rock’s most melodic bass player will expertly play several different instruments, from a piano to a very Hendrix-like electric guitar to a ukulele.

As the Madison Square Garden show went past two hours, a young woman who was dancing to a Beatles favorite yelled to no one in particular, “I’m so happy right now!”

And that’s the lasting magic of McCartney and The Beatles, and why we’re so fortunate that McCartney continues to play their music. When you’re happy, their music will make you happier. And when you’re sad, their music will always inspire you to take a sad song and make it better.

What To Expect

Parking: Remember the mess with the Billy Joel concert? Arrive early. Parking is available in the Manley and Skytop lots ($20 per car) with shuttle service.

Gates open: 6 p.m. There will be high security at entrances so be prepared to empty your pockets.

When will it start? There is no opening act (Beatles/Wings/McCartney music will be played while photos/images are shown on the screens). The concert is scheduled to start at 8 p.m., but most shows have started about 8:30 p.m.

For more information: Visit

Paul McCartney’s U.S. Tours

Here’s a look at Paul McCartney’s previous U.S. tours with The Beatles, Wings and as a solo artist:

1964 (The Beatles)

  • Highlights: The band’s first appearance at the Hollywood Bowl and meeting Bob Dylan after the Aug. 28 concert.
  • Memorable Songs: “She Loves You,” “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “Twist And Shout.”
  • Closest to Syracuse: New York City (Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, Paramount Theater).

1965 (The Beatles)

  • Highlight: The Beatles kicked off the tour Aug. 15 with the now legendary concert before 55,600 fans at Shea Stadium that ushered in the era of stadium rock shows.
  • Memorable Songs: Movie hits “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Help!” and “Ticket To Ride.”
  • Closest to Syracuse: New York City (Shea Stadium).

1966 (The Beatles)

  • Highlight: On Aug. 29, the band played its final concert before 25,000 fans at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. It was their last public performance until the Let It Be rooftop appearance.
  • Memorable Songs: “Yesterday,” “Nowhere Man,” “Day Tripper” and “Paperback Writer.”
  • Closest to Syracuse: New York City (Shea Stadium).

1976 (Wings); Wings Over America

  • Highlight: After low-profile tours in the United Kingdom in 1972 and 1973, McCartney launched a mega-tour that included 31 shows in the United States and Canada and resulted in a triple album (Wings Over America) and movie (Rockshow).
  • Memorable Songs: “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Band On The Run” and five Beatles songs, including “Lady Madonna,” “The Long And Winding Road” and “Yesterday.”
  • Closest to Syracuse: New York City (Madison Square Garden).

1989-1990 (solo); The Paul McCartney World Tour

  • Highlight: McCartney’s first tour in 10 years and his first appearances in the United States in 13 years; Paul fully embraced his past by including several Beatles songs in his set list.
  • Memorable Songs: Never-before-played-live Beatles songs “Hey Jude,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End,” and more.
  • Closest to Syracuse: New York City (Madison Square Garden).

1993 (solo); The New World Tour

  • Highlights: McCartney was scheduled to play at the Carrier Dome, but cancelled to get ready for a televised concert in Charlotte or because of lagging ticket sales, or both. Paul’s last tour for nine years after his wife and band member, Linda McCartney, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995 and died in 1998.
  • Memorable Songs: Paul started diving deeper into the Beatles catalog with “Drive My Car,” “Here, There and Everywhere,” “Fixing A Hole,” and more.
  • Closest to Syracuse: Toronto (CNE Stadium).

2002 (solo); Driving World Tour

  • Highlight: McCartney returns to the road for the first time in nearly a decade following the deaths of Linda and George Harrison and with the band that has toured with him ever since.
  • Memorable Songs: More Beatles deep cuts (“Getting Better,” “Mother Nature’s Son”) and tributes to John (“Here Today”) and George (“Something”).
  • Closest to Syracuse: New York City (Madison Square Garden).

2005 (solo); The ‘US’ Tour

  • Highlight: On Nov. 12 in Anaheim, Calif., two songs (including “Good Day Sunshine”) and dialogue from the concert were broadcast to the International Space Station and astronauts Valeri Tokarev and Bill McArthur.
  • Memorable Songs: “Too Many People/She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” medley, “Helter Skelter” to conclude the first encore and “Please Please Me” to start the second encore.
  • Closest to Syracuse: New York City (Madison Square Garden).

2009 (solo); Summer Live ’09

  • Highlights: In a nod to The Beatles playing at newly opened Shea Stadium in 1965, McCartney played three nights at the new Citi Field in New York City; for this reporter, dancing with his future wife Robin to “Calico Skies” at Fenway Park.
  • Memorable Songs: “I’m Down” (the song that closed the 1965 concert) and “I Saw Her Standing There” with Billy Joel on the first night of the Citi Field shows.
  • Closest to Syracuse: New York City (Citi Field).

2010-2011 (solo); Up And Coming Tour

  • Highlights: Two concerts at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles and Paul’s first concert in Puerto Rico; for this reporter, the Philadelphia concert with his children Taryn and Taylor.
  • Memorable Songs: “A Day In The Life,” “Nineteen Hundred And Eighty-Five” from Band on the Run, and digging deeper into The Beatles catalog with “I’m Looking Through You” and “Two Of Us.”
  • Closest to Syracuse: Toronto (Air Canada Centre).

2011-2012 (solo); On The Run Tour

  • Highlight: The tour for the Babe Ruth of pop music started with two shows at Yankee Stadium. “Who’s this Derek Jeter fella?” Paul asked. “I hear he has more hits than me.”
  • Memorable Songs: “The Night Before” from Help!, “Junior’s Farm,” and in some cities, “The Word/All You Need Is Love” medley.
  • Closest to Syracuse: New York City (Yankee Stadium).

2013-2015 (solo); Out There Tour

  • Highlight: McCartney kicked off the North American leg of his 2014 tour at Albany’s Times Union Center in July in his first show since a virus sent him to a Tokyo hospital in May and forced him to cancel a string of shows in East Asia and the United States.
  • Memorable Songs: “Eight Days A Week” opener, “Hi, Hi, Hi” and Sgt. Pepper cuts “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite” and “Lovely Rita.”
  • Closest to Syracuse: Albany (Times Union Center) in 2014 and Buffalo (First Niagara Center) in 2015.
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