PAUL McCARTNEY at the Air Canada Centre, October 10. Tickets: $58.75-$273.75. Attendance: 20,000. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
I don't know why Paul McCartney felt the need to hit us up with a 10-minute video of his life story before he took the Air Canada Centre stage on Monday night. We kinda know who he is. Plus it suggested an obsession with his own legend that set the wrong tone for the concert.
What looked like it was going to be a snoreworthy ego trip gave way to a generous - three hours non-stop - performance punctuated by some of rock's greatest hits. One of the least discussed reasons for the Beatles' breakup was the conflict between McCartney and John Lennon over the value of touring. Lennon hated performing live - witness him chewing gum throughout the entire rooftop Let It Be set - but McCartney loves it.
You can tell he still does. He gave us a stripped-down show - in other words, he really played, and you could hear every complex bass line. As he did with his second band, Wings, McCartney's assembled a kickass team of young players, particularly guitarist Rusty Anderson . Thanks to new technology, all the sounds and textures Lennon complained could never be reproduced live came across pristinely, thanks to keyboardist and musical director Paul "Wix" Wickens .
McCartney went easy on the material inspired by first wife Linda Eastman, either because he knows it's treacly crap or because, despite his life changes, he misses her too much to perform it.
Or maybe he really wanted to put on a rock show. That's what this was, aside from an acoustic set that featured Yesterday, Fixing A Hole and I Will, and despite the fact that the new album, Chaos And Creation In The Backyard, which he sampled occasionally, has a melancholy tone.
Some of the show was a little ragged - especially some of the new material and The End. But listening to McCartney belt it out over the screeching guitars of Helter Skelter, you had to admit that he is still one of the best white male rock singers in the world.