“They said come back, we came back. It’s cool’: Sir Paul McCartney duets with John Lennon at historic pageant in Spokane

Sir Paul McCartney made history with his first-ever concert in the city of Spokane last night (Thursday April 28). It was a concert that included “a duet” with John Lennon – thanks to electronic magic – and huge cheers when the Beatles legend waved a Ukrainian flag.

It was McCartney’s first concert since the summer of 2019. When he first took the stage, the 79-year-old had to pause for a moment, seemingly overcome with emotion at being from back on the road – in the midst of a pandemic that has destroyed and upended so much, especially live music.

“They said ‘stand back'”, and we came back. And that’s cool,” he said. “You’ll have to give me a moment to myself, just to let me take this.”

It was one of many moments from the opening concert of his 16-stop “Got Back” tour, before his headline show at Glastonbury Festival on June 25 (which happens to be a week after his 80th birthday).

“How are you Spokane?” asked McCartney. “I think we’re going to have a good night.”

And they did. McCartney never achieved the on-stage swagger of someone like Mick Jagger, but his performance was in many ways remarkable. The set included their very first live performance of the entirety of “You Never Give Me Your Money”, a song which comes near the end of Side Two of Abbey Road, the Beatles’ last recording together. And he also played “In Spite of All the Danger,” a stripped-down track he once performed with The Quarrymen, the band that preceded the Beatles.

While people were struck by the range of McCartney’s voice, the septuagenarian was most moving when that voice didn’t quite hit the notes it once had.

“A lot of people try to learn that song ‘Blackbird’,” he said good-naturedly, before starting to play. “And you are all wrong.”

It felt the same when he and his band returned to the stage for an encore, with the former Beatle earning loud cheers by waving a huge Ukrainian flag. “We have something quite special for you,” he said.

Paul McCartney at his concert in Spokane, Washington

(Nisha Saxena)

And so they did, a performance of “I’ve Got A Feeling”, with John Lennon singing courtesy of the work of To come back director Peter Jackson. One of the highlights of the documentary film is the concert they performed on January 30, 1969, on the roof of their Apple Corps headquarters in London at 3 Savile Row. Once grainy footage is now embellished with deep colors and tones.

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“Peter Jackson said ‘I can extract John’s voice if you want,'” McCartney told the audience.

And so they played along, McCartney – his gray hair worn long – and Lennon, who was shot in New York on December 8, 1980, seeming for a moment to have avoided that fatal encounter with obsessive fan Mark David Chapman. He was back with his band once more, on the joyful but bittersweet January afternoon, performing as he did, the Beatles’ last live performance.

The city of Spokane, with its population of 220,000, is about 300 miles east of Seattle and 90 miles from the border with Canada. Although it’s the second-largest city in Washington State, it feels like a country town – a city that’s significantly more conservative than liberal Seattle. Were people surprised he was playing here, filling the 8,000-seat Spokane Arena?

“I’m not surprised. We’ve had Elton John here and Rod Stewart,” said Mary Mitchell, 58, from Montana, who was at the gig with her London-born husband Stephen. she says.



He likes to try these small rooms

Debby Bangs, Paul McCartney fan

Another couple in the audience, Debby and Jim Bangs, 70, said they had seen McCartney in Missoula, Montana, when he performed at an outdoor festival in 2014.

“He likes to try these little venues,” observed Debby, who hoped McCartney would play her favorite song, “Birthday.”

Jim wanted McCartney to perform “Till There Was You”, a song originally written and performed by Meredith Wilson, which the Beatles covered and included on their 1963 album, With the Beatles. Jim said he used to sing it to their son when he was a baby. This time McCartney doesn’t include it in his set, but he plays “Get Back”, another favorite.

Officials said tickets for the show sold out within minutes.

“People are very excited,” said Brian Coddington, a city spokesman before the concert.

He added: “It’s a great opportunity to help Paul McCartney kick off his tour and also showcase our community to the world.”

McCartney and his band played for over two and a half hours and went through a setlist containing 36 songs.

“Thank you,” McCartney said. “Thank you.”

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