Paul gives “all his loving” to the people of Quebec

Photo: Jay Ouellet from QCT archives

Paul McCartney gave all his love and much more to his adoring fans during his Out There concert on the Plains of Abraham.

Five years after enchanting his fans on the Plains of Abraham for Quebec City's 400th anniversary, Paul McCartney gave them another unforgettable evening on July 23rd.

Now in his 71st year, the indefatigable former Beatle performed his concert Out There for an adoring public on what was perhaps the most beautiful night of the summer. As a huge full moon rose over Cap Diamant, the anticipation in the crowd became palpable. The natural amphitheatre below the Citadel was less crowded than in 2008 (when the concert was free), but from the media vantage point near the stage, the sea of eager faces seemed endless.

He stepped onstage at 9:15 p.m. and belted into the energetic "Eight Days a Week." From that moment until his final number three hours later, Sir Paul and the band never stopped. After almost every one of the 40 songs they performed, McCartney charmed the public with his cheeky humour, energy and generosity. He did his best to speak French most of the time, starting with "Bonsoir les Québécois! Bonsoir les Québécoises! Salut toute la gang! We're gonna party here tonight." At one point he asked, "Does anyone here speak English?" and got an enthusiastic "Yes!" from the crowd. Many voices could be heard singing along to the well-known, well-loved songs.

Dressed in a long black jacket, white shirt and tie, and black jeans, McCartney sang the fourth song, "Listen to What the Man Said," then removed his jacket and tie, saying, "That's the only wardrobe change this evening." However, he changed instruments frequently, going from his 4-string bass to a variety of acoustic guitars. There was even a mandolin, which he said was a gift many years ago from his friend and fellow Beatle, the late George Harrison.

Sitting at the grand piano, he looked up at the full moon and said, "It's time to welcome the moon. Bonsoir, lune. Quelle belle ville." He then sang "My Valentine," saying he'd written it for his wife, Nancy Shevell. Videos of a friend of Nancy's, actress Natalie Portman (Black Swan), signing the lyrics in American Sign Language, were projected on a screen in the background.

Moving later to stand on a tier that rose some 20 feet above the level of the stage, McCartney sang "Here Today," which he said he had written for the late John Lennon. It was a very moving piece, made even more effective with projections of a waterfall on the elevated stage and a full moon on the backstage screen.
Many people in the audience were holding up placards asking him to sign their guitar, or (in one case) "my arm so I can have it tattooed," etc. Fourteen-year-old Megane Rand, of Kentville, Nova Scotia, held up a sign reading, "Can I have a hug? It's my birthday today." Not only did she receive her hug from McCartney, he autographed her sign, then sang her the Beatles song "They say it's your birthday, Happy Birthday to ya." The gift of lifetime!

He dedicated "Let It Be" to the people of Lac-Mégantic, 900 of whom were at the concert having received free tickets. However, that song was immediately followed by "Live And Let Die," complete with fireworks and flames shooting up from the stage - in this writer's opinion, perhaps giving many people an unwelcome reminder of the town's recent disaster.

Neither the audience nor McCartney was ready to leave the party, and he treated fans to two encores of four songs each, ending with "Yesterday," a thunderous version of "Helter Skelter," and "Carry That Weight."
At last, before taking a final bow, McCartney thanked all the people who'd helped make the show such a success, in particular the band members: Rusty Anderson (guitar, vocals), Abe Laboriel, Jr. (percussion, vocals), Brian Ray (guitar, vocals), and Paul Wickens (keyboards, guitar, harmonica and accordion). All of them are fantastic musicians and, together, are like a finely-tuned machine. Before quitting the stage, McCartney called, "À la prochaine, Québec," leaving us to hope that he may be back someday.

A few drops of rain fell during his second encore and soon there was a deluge, causing many people to leave and miss the last, terrific songs. This QCT writer, however, had thought to take a rain poncho. Soaked (but only from the knees down), she floated home on a cloud of McCartney/Beatles tunes, thrilled to have been able, at long last, to see her teen idol perform live.