Come back, come back, come back.
The tense of the verb doesn’t really matter.
Sir Paul McCartney is just… back.
When the ex-Beatle brings his band to Hollywood on May 25 and then heads north to Camping World Stadium in Orlando on May 28, it will mark his first Sunshine State tour dates in five years. McCartney didn’t bill this as his last trick, but you have to wonder.
Florida has hosted Mick Jagger (78), Keith Richards (78), Roger Daltrey (78), Pete Townshend (76) and Elton John (75) for the past seven months. McCartney, the dean of them all, will turn 80 in a few weeks.
All you need is love and a bottle of Centrum Silver.
Of all the musical legends still playing, however, this is the gig I’d pay to see. It features a duet with John Lennon, 28, singing I have a feeling, incorporating part of the remastered video of The Beatles’ last rooftop concert 53 years ago. I could drive 90 miles just for this moment.
What else will you hear when pop music’s greatest living icon takes the stage?
An analysis of early setlists from his Got Back tour offers empirical evidence. It’s a small sample of arenas and stadiums, of course. But the setlists in Spokane, Seattle (two shows), Oakland (two other shows), Inglewood and Fort Worth have been largely identical. Count on 36 songs, spanning around 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Worried about spoilers? Click away if you prefer surprises, spontaneity or jumping out of planes. Me? I am a planner. Not a risk taker. I eat the same breakfast every day. I prefer to have an idea of what I’m getting for my $200 bill near the roofline. If you’re with me, here’s what the data tells us about McCartney’s shows:
Tons of Beatles music and a healthy dose of early Wings. Sir Paul sells memorabilia, not new gear.
And there are so many memories. An unparalleled catalog of Lennon-McCartney hits emerged from a remarkably prolific eight-year run in the 1960s. At the time, the Beatles, all four in their twenties, typically released two albums a year.
After The Breakup, while touring with Wings, McCartney balked at playing Beatles hits, working only on an occasional version of Yesterday or So be it.
That changed with his 1989-90 solo world tour. Beatles classics have since dominated his sets, including tunes mostly written and sung by Lennon (Be for the benefit of Mr. Kite!) and George Harrison (Something).
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On this tour, so far, Lennon-McCartney’s successes are more important than ever. It opens with I can’t buy myself love and ends with a flurry of Beatles numbers. Fourteen of the last 16 songs, in fact. There’s a chance he’ll change a song or two somewhere in the middle of the performance. But once he’s locked into a set list, McCartney rarely deviates from it. More than 30 years of concerts chronicled on the setlist.fm wiki site confirm this.
The distribution of the first seven concerts of the American tour in 13 cities:
- 61.1% Beatles music, if you count an original by The Quarrymen written when McCartney, Lennon and Harrison were teenagers.
- 16.6% of Wings songs.
- 13.8% of songs recorded in the last 10 years.
Four out of five songs were featured on his last tour, which was cut short due to COVID. Here is the command you can expect. (Percentages indicate how often songs were played during the tour.)
- I can’t buy myself love (Beatles/1964) — 100%
- The junior farm (Wings/1974) — 100%
- Let go (Wings/1975) — 100%
- I have to bring you into my life (Beatles/1966) — 100%
- To come to me (solo/2018) — 100%
- let me roll it (Wings/1974) — 100%
- Get better (Beatles/1967) — 100%
- Wife and wives (solo / 2020) – 71%, or let them in (Wings/1976) — 29%
- My Valentine (solo/2012) — 100%
- nineteen eighty-five (Wings/1974) — 100%
- I may be amazed (solo/1970) — 100%
- We can work it Outside (Beatles/1965) – 57%, or I just saw a face (Beatles/1966) — 43%
- Despite all the dangers (The Quarries / 1958) – 100%
- love me do (Beatles/1962) — 100%
- Dance This evening (solo/2007) — 100%
- Blackbird (Beatles/1968) — 100%
- Here today (solo/1982) — 100%
- queen’s eye (solo/2013) — 50%, or New (solo/2013) — 50%
- Lady Madonna (Beatles/1968) — 100%
- Fuh you (solo/2018) — 100%
- Be for the benefit of Mr. Kite! (Beatles/1967) — 100%
- Something (Beatles/1969) — 100%
- Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (Beatles/1968) — 100%
- You never give me your money (Beatles/1969) — 100%
- She came in through the bathroom window (Beatles/1969) — 100%
- To come back (Beatles/1969) — 100%
- Runaway group (Wings/1973) — 100%
- So be it (Beatles/1970) — 100%
- Live and Let Die (Wings/1973) — 100%
- Hey Jude (Beatles/1968) — 100%
- Bis: I have a feeling (Beatles/1970) — 100%
- Bis: Anniversary (Beatles/1968) — 100%
- Bis: Helter Skelter (Beatles/1968) — 100%
- Bis: golden sleep (Beatles/1969) — 100%
- Bis: Carry this burden (Beatles/1969) — 100%
- Bis: The end (Beatles/1969) — 100%
This tour, the recent Peter Jackson documentary, and a Hulu series featuring McCartney have sparked a lot of thought and appreciation for all things Beatles, and Paul in particular. The only To come back came out in 1969. I was 6 years old. I didn’t pay enough attention to the disc jockeys who featured the song the millions of times they played it, so I didn’t even know the name. I just knew I wanted it, needed it, had to have it. I begged for months until my mother relented and took me shopping in 1970, shortly after the band broke up. I remember very well what happened next.
In Sears’ records section, she apologetically leaned into the clerk’s personal space to ask which Beatles album contained the song “Joe Joe was a man.” He smiled and showed So be itwhich became the first album I ever owned, the last album of new material the Beatles would release.
The Jackson Documentary To come back on Disney’s streaming platform has helped decode decades of mythology surrounding the band’s final days, with eight hours of beautifully restored video chronicling the recording of So be it. It placed viewers in the middle of the creative process, serving as a valuable anthropological examination of history’s most successful songwriters – even if Lennon, and to a lesser extent Harrison, had begun to lose interest.
The film ends with the band’s last live performance in January 1969. Throughout the weeks of rehearsals leading up to it, they were bored, funny, frustrated and stoned. But when they plug into the rickety roof of the Apple building in London on a cold winter’s day, everything clicks into place. All small defects are masked by the luminescence of the bracelet. They were clearly having fun. “Got Back” is an appropriate name for this tour.
Reliving any part of it will definitely be worth the wait.
If you are going to
Paul McCartney brings his 13 US city tour to Camping World Stadium, 1 Citrus Bowl Place, Orlando on May 28. The show starts at 8 p.m. There is no first part. A handful of tickets are available through Ticketmaster or the secondary market. Tickets cost between $96.50 and $1,050.