At Safeco Field Friday Night, Paul McCartney Gets by With Some Help From Friends

What can you say that hasn’t already been said about Sir Paul McCartney? The man is a legend amongst legends, a songwriter with a near unmatched catalog of epic and timeless tunes, and a one of a kind live performer. To the sheer delight of the 45,000 in attendance for Safeco Field’s first ever-public concert on Friday night, McCartney didn’t let down the crowd’s understandably high expectations.

Throughout the course of his almost three hour, thirty-eight song performance McCartney dazzled with a set inevitably dominated by Beatles and Wings-era tracks. The man proved to be tireless as he jumped from bass, grand piano, acoustic guitar, upright piano, and electric guitar depending upon what the arrangement called for. His voice–considered an area of concern coming into the show among some–was in fine form throughout the evening.

McCartney opened with the rarely performed live Beatles tune “Eight Days a Week,” the first of twenty such songs he would play from the Fab Four’s back catalog. For this particular tour--the Out There! tour--McCartney went one step further and prepared a number of never-performed live tracks including “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” and “Lovely Rita” as well as some more obscure cuts like “Junior’s Farm” and “Another Day.” Ultimately however, what the crowd came to hear was the former Beatle belt out a number of his more celebrated recordings from that group’s deep repertoire. McCartney didn’t disappoint.

Old standbys such as “The Long and Winding Road,” “Let It Be,” “Blackbird,” “All My Loving,” and “Back in the USSR” were given their due, adding to the feeling of collective euphoria inside the building. The main set itself came to an end with the chorus of “na-na’s” that mark the extended coda of “Hey Jude” ringing throughout the stadium. When he reemerged for the encore, Sir Paul chose this particular show to bring out something truly unique.

Shortly after a sprightly take of “Day Tripper” in the first encore, McCartney stepped to the microphone and announced the arrival of three special guests for the evening. In succession Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Pat Smear –the three remaining members of Nirvana’s In Utero era lineup–made their way on stage to a deafening roar. The four men took their place behind their respective instruments and launched into the raucous number “Cut Me Some Slack” which they had recorded for the soundtrack to Grohl’s documentary Sound City.

It didn’t end there. The ex-Nirvana sidemen remained on stage intermittently throughout the end of the first encore and into the second playing an amped up take of “Get Back,” a cover of the Little Richard classic “Long Tall Sally,” as well as the incendiary White Album track “Helter Skelter.” The evening drew to a close as McCartney and band along with Nirvana alum played through the venerable medley of songs that closes out the second side of Abbey Road, and culminated with a five-person, three-minute guitar solo on “The End.” It was a moment that will live on in Seattle music lore for many years to come.

A Paul McCartney show in and of itself is a spectacle. Anyone fortunate enough to see the ex-Beatle in person will inevitably experience some catharsis hearing those classic songs which have become so ingrained in our consciousness, delivered by the man who wrote them. On Friday night yet another 45,000 people came together to share in that story, and left with a story of their own.

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