Don Shelton is the Sports Editor of The Seattle Times and attended Friday night’s Paul McCartney concert at Safeco Field.
I blogged earlier this weekend about the amazing Paul McCartney concert on a glorious night at Safeco Field this Friday (read that post). But as I listen to “With the Beatles” this morning, I want to share a few more impressions of the night. Bear with me as I try to weave together two of my passions, baseball and music.
Sir Paul’s performance was incredible – 38 songs over nearly three hours. That would be remarkable for any artist, but for a 71-year-old who has been doing this since he was a teenager, it was astonishing. Making it even better was a perfect night in a perfect setting. McCartney, Seattle and Safeco rarely looked or sounded better.
It was shirtsleeve weather in July, with a slight breeze and a full moon. McCartney and his band were on stage in center field, with seats carefully laid atop a protective layer over the outfield grass. Even in the 300 level across the stadium, you could hear every word and every note. For a lifelong Fab Four fan seeing his first Beatle live, it doesn’t get much better.
McCartney shared several stories between songs – paying tribute to his late wife Linda, and his late, great bandmates John Lennon and George Harrison (among others) by dedicating songs to each – and gave several shoutouts to Seattle. That was appropriate for the first public concert at Safeco Field by the man whose second band, Wings, played the first concert at the Kingdome 37 years earlier. Since the Beatles also played the Seattle Center Coliseum (now KeyArena), Paul and his music have now graced the stage at three Seattle sports venues. (Sadly, I missed both the Beatles and Wings shows, but as a young reporter, I did cover the inaugural Mariners and Seahawks games at the Kingdome).
At one point, McCartney stopped, shielded his eyes, looked in the sky toward right field and commented on the glorious full moon. It was that kind of night.
Music fans could almost forget that Safeco is a baseball stadium, one of the best in Major League Baseball, in fact. No one was allowed on the infield, and the pitcher’s mound was shielded by a covering with the Mariners logo on it.
The glorious night made me fall in love all over again with McCartney’s music and gave me new respect for one of rock’s true icons. I was convinced his star had flamed out years ago, that he was a shadow of the genius who wrote “Yesterday,” “Hey Jude” and so many of the other great songs that were the soundtrack to my youth. I was wrong. Friday night brought back a 50-year-old memory of hearing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” for the first time on the little box of a radio on the kitchen table of my parent’s house. I was 9 or 10 years old. My parents have long since passed away, but five decades later, the moment is still electric.
But the night did more than bring back musical memories. It made me recall how wonderful Safeco can be. A decade of dreary Mariners teams let us forget how lucky we are to have such a jewel of a stadium and a big-league team. On this night, with a warm breeze, a full moon and a packed house, you could almost imagine what it would be like to be in a pennant race.
The Beatles album just finished – later I’ll listen to “Beatles for Sale” as I make my way through the way through the whole catalogue – and the Mariners are trying to win their sixth straight game in Houston. Felix Hernandez is on the mound, his stuff is electric and Nick Franklin just hit a grand slam for a 7-0 Mariners lead. This a young team that has created a bit of a buzz in town for the first time in years.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s possible.
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