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August 2, 2009

Concert review: Paul McCartney at FedEx Field last night

paul mccartneySimply put, this was one of the best shows I've ever seen.

I didn't want Paul McCartney's show at FedEx Field last night to end.

But when it did -- after a two-hour set and a 30-minute encore -- I think I speak for the rest of the audience when I said I left the stadium satisfied.

Backed by a lean, four-piece band, McCartney led a tour through his unparalleled body of work, from his days as a Beatle to some of the more recent material he released under his alter ego, The Fireman.

The crowd happily clapped and sang along to the former, and amicably tolerated the latter ...

McCartney emerged looking dapper in a black suit. After four songs, he shed his coat, revealing a white button-down shirt and thin, red suspenders. 

"That's the big wardrobe change," he quipped. 

At 67, McCartney sounds and looks great. From the primal wailing on "Helter Skelter" to the poignant lines of "Here Today," McCartney showed he still has a remarkable range.

Age be damned, McCartney still has the boyish charm that won him legions of fans in the '60s. He bowed deeply and held up his bass guitar after nearly every song -- something that would seem gratuitous coming from most other musicians. But seeing McCartney do it, you couldn't help but smile. He's just so likable

paul mccartneyAt one point in the set, McCartney noted that Washington was the first place the Beatles played after coming to the U.S. 

"Is that someone who was there?," he asked, looking out into the crowd. "I remember you! ... You couldn't hear yourself 'cause of all the girls screaming."

Right on cue, all the women in the audience screamed.

"Yeah," he said. "That was the noise."

Smoking renditions of "Paperback Writer" and "Band on the Run" were among the evening's high points. He dedicated "Michelle" to Barack Obama, ("we think Barack might want to sing [it] to someone in his house").

At one point, McCartney brought out a four-string ukulele, which, he said. was a gift from George Harrison. Then he eased into an upbeat, acoustic version of the Abbey Road single "Something." After a couple verses, the rest of the band joined in.

I was surprised to see McCartney strap on a guitar and riff through a brief instrumental jam of Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady."

A couple quibbles: McCartney's voice and piano were overpowered by the synthesized strings on "The Long And Winging Road." It was a bit cheesy to see the keyboardist covering the saxophone part on "Lady Madonna" through some kind of electronic wind adapter on the synthesizer. Can't McCartney hire a couple horns and strings? Those were my only real complaints with the show, and they were small ones.

Fittingly, the final encore was "The End," a pleasant cap to an electrifying show.

Here is the set list:

1. Drive My Car
2. Jet
3. Only Mama Knows
4. Flaming Pie
5. Got to Get You Into My Life
6. Let Me Roll It
7. Foxy Lady (instrumental jam)
8. Highway
9. The Long and Winding Road
10. My Love
11. Blackbird
12. Here Today
13. Dance Tonight
14. Calico Skies
15. Michelle
16. Mrs. Vandebilt
17. Eleanor Rigby
18. Sing the Changes
19. Band On the Run
20. Back in the U.S.S.R.
21. I'm Down
22. Something
23. I've Got a Feeling
24. Paperback Writer
25. A Day in the Life
26. Let It Be
27. Live And Let Die
28. Hey Jude


Day Tripper
Lady Madonna
I Saw Her Standing There
Helter Skelter
Get Back
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)
The End

(AP photos)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:34 PM | | Comments (61)
Categories: Concert reviews


What a great show! I was down on the field, and it was worth every penny. Paul still has it after all these years. I have to say that the keyboard guy is great - I didn't mind him using it as a synthesizer, so meh.
Fedex Field is the worst venue for anything, though. There was no soda available until the show started due to some technical problem, the toilets were BACKING UP, and the credit card system was down, but Paul made up for it all.
Those of us who took the metro got a great experience after the show - no problems at all. Very well run system at the Morgan Boulevard station. I heard that people who drove almost seemed surprised there was traffic: I guess they've never been to Fedex before, heh.

He played Purple Haze, not Foxy Lady.


Like you said it was the best concert I have ever seen. I was amazed and didn't want it to end. He really is a great showman and musician. Love him!!!!

Like you said it was the best concert I have ever seen. I was amazed and didn't want it to end. He really is a great showman and musician. Love him!!!!

We agree with everything you say. We didn't want the show to end, beginning with the several apparent finales before the encores.

This was an outstanding show. What a blast. His conversational tone with the audience and his stories of the old days was charming. The Beatles never grabbed hold of me and shook me like the Stones did, but Paul really won my heart over last night.

I agree it was an amazing show; probably the best concert I've ever been to. I have to say that I think the audience more than "tolerated" Paul's new songs. "Electric Arguments" is a fantastic album and I was wishing he did more from it. Give the guy his due, at 67 he's creating interesting and beautiful music. I wish he would tour forever.

Great show.

Traffic was horrible cuz the signs on 495 ( at least on the inner loop) told people to take exits 17 or 15 for passes and that 16 was for cash. Well, parking came with each ticket ($10 parking fee) so everyone assumed they needed to take 17 or 15 and NOT 16. On the inner loop everyone took 17 which created a HUGE line at that exit and helped contribute to the 4 lane backup for miles before the exit.

I think that sign is what the Redskins use to tell people that there are cash lots at exit 16. As a Redskins season ticket holder I knew to go on to 16. I went on past 17 and took 16. There was litterally NO traffic getting off exit 16 and it took me 5-7 minutes from the time I passed exit 17 till I was parked. Those who waited at 17 took, litterally, hours to get into the parking lots.

Whoever was responsible for that sign on the beltway (the lighted one you can change based on traffic conditions) REALLY created a HUGE problem for tens of thousands of people.

Paul McCartney lived up to his legendary status. Last night's show was spectacular! I did not want the show to end.

We were seeing Macca for the second time last night and knew we were in for a special evening. He didn't disappoint and the recreation of the crescendo in "A Day in the Life" was spectacular. Also loved the dedication to John in "Here today".
Tremendous that he kept going without an interval - is that usual in the US? We are from England where concerts are punctuated by a 20 minute break. Or was it because he was so late starting? Anyone know why? A night to remember. Thank-you Paul and the band.

I agree it was a superb show, and a wonderful performance by Paul McCartney who has not lost a bit of his great touch with music or the audience! A birthday gift from my wife - we first knew the Beatles in the early 1960s in Britain! Excellent write up and thanks for the list of songs.

I agree it was a superb show, and a wonderful performance by Paul McCartney who has not lost a bit of his great touch with music or the audience! A birthday gift from my wife - we first knew the Beatles in the early 1960s in Britain! Excellent write up and thanks for the list of songs.

Wow, what a set list!

How was the opening band?

I agree, it was a fabulous show. Paul is a charming and fun performer, the band was very professional but having fun too. It was inspiring to hear tens of thousands of people singing along-some of us in harmony! Lots of goosebumps throughout the concert.

Paul was wonderful,Loved the fireworks. Neat to have the whole stadium singing along. The"warm up " DJ's could have been omitted. No one knew who or what they were. Ended tooo soon.

this was a concert that took me back to my teens and some of the best musical memories i can recall. at 67, McCartney just rocked the house, period.

for those who say that it was a little flawed (in whatever way) should remember that perfection doesn't exist and this was a musical festival that was unbelievable.

its that simple.

This was absolutely the best concert I have ever gone to. I went with low expectations wanting to see a legend in person, but thinking he would be past his prime. Macca sounds as good as ever and is a consummate performer who knows how to communicate with the audience. He seemed to be enjoying himself as much as everyone else.

I was at the concert and i yelled, cried and sang all night long it was such an awesome concert after coming from NE pennsylvania, staying at a hotel in greenbelt md the traffic was horrible, it took us 2 hours to drive 8 miles, but once we finally got into Fedex field, at 9pm on the dot paul was about to start and it made it all better i think paul did great and he is still oh so cute!!! it was my 3rd time seeing him over the years.... I LOVE YOU PAUL....

Sally, you're right -- most bands take a 15- or 20-minute set break. McCartney did not. I can't believe he played so well for so long.

Great show, my second seeing McCartney. Last time, in "68, he was with his first band at DC. He was right; this time he brought better amps.

I saw Paul with the Beatles in 1964 in Baltimore and will never forget it! So it was so exciting to see Paul in concert again 45 years later. His music and performance were fantastic the only difference is that we are both a little older. : )

Great show Saturday night from Sir Paul McCartney and band, many highlights as Sam has mentioned, Paul's voice is stunning. The opening band were the two DJs known as Thievery Corporation, though they were not introduced or mentioned at all, we liked their jams and mixes. Agree Fedex Field is the worst venue in the area, hope next time Paul plays the Ravens stadium instead!

About the traffic--it took us 90 minutes to go about 1.5 miles, from the route 50 ramp to the stadium. No signs, no police, no help at all--until the stadium was in view. Even near the stadium and in the lots, very little was being done. Whoever is in charge of these things should look carefully at what happened and insure that (a) attendees are better informed and (b) provisions are made for traffic control.

This was one of the most spectacular, amazing, phenomenal, religious experiences of my life! I'm 35 and like most of us, have had Paul in my life from day one. I cried the most of the evening out of awe and love!

I heard the concert was delayed because Paul wanted everyone to be there. FedEx is a nice enough venue, but the parking and leaving was HORRIBLE. so were the bathrooms. they weren't working. I wasn't able to leave the parking lot til nearly 2am! Thats my only negative opinion.

I really loved how he thanked the CREW before anyone else. He's such a likeable, cool, genuine guy!

THis was the 5th time I've seen Paul over the past 10 years and he has never taken a break. It is amazing that he can keep going for almost 3 hours with the range of vocals that he does. Great show as usual from Macca.

We last saw Paul on July 4th, 1990. Despite the 19 year difference, this show was amazing! It was even better than the last time, as this set focused more on Beatles music than on Wings. Even as he Paul has retained his lovable, youthful nature. He really made me laugh when he talked about his brain telling him not read everyone's signs while playing, but being compelled to do so anyway. And, his ability to perform has not decreased. At times I was quite teary eyed as I felt his music moving through me and touching my spirit. It was an incredible experience, and I am so glad that I was able to share in it. Thanks Paul for still being truly entertaining. As the owner of, I was excited to hear some cool trivia from Paul that will definitely make it into this seasons live trivia games.

This was my son's first stadium show (he just turned 17) and it didn't dissapoint. It was everything you could want from a concert. Paul is 67 and still totally rocks it with the best of them. His voice still hit the highs on The Long And Winding Road without cracking. His tributes to John, George of and course, Linda were moving and much appreciated by the fans.

The opening act was a technipop group called Thievery Corperation. I loved them but the rest of my group didn't.

Great show!! After seeing the Stones, Springsteen and others at Fed-Ex, I knew what to expect in terms of traffic. Get down there early!! This made for an enjoyable start to a great evening. The tickets were a Father's Day gift for my Dad, so finally being able to help him see a Beatle after 45 years made the show one I'll never forget!

This was my 9 year old son's FIRST concert and he was blown away! He danced, played air guitar and air drums through the whole show - I've never seen him light up like that! It was a great experience for his first show and I'm glad my mom and I were there with him.

This was my 3rd time seeing Paul and he is definitely one of a kind. He comes off hip and cool and incredibly sweet all at the same time - and he can still rock, even at 67!! There's no one like him!

Also, I feel like myself and a lot of people did more than "tolerate" his newer works. Of course the classic are just that, but his newer albums are another example of an always changing, and forever evolving artist - check out "Sing the Changes" for proof....amazing.

Oh - but FedEx Field was the mostly poorly planned out venue I have ever been to. It took us over 2 hours to go 3 exits and I had to let my mom and son out of the car when we got close so he wouldn't miss Paul coming out. What should have taken up 40 mins took 3 1/2 hours. The electronic sign on the highway could have easily directed everyone to the correct exit vs saying "Expect Delays"... yea, no kidding. Once I did get there, none of the bathrooms by the entrance had toilet paper and there was no food left at any of the concession stands. Did they know they were having a show there?? It was worth the hassle to see Paul, but I'll never, ever go back there for anything.

I laughed, I cried... It was absolutely the best concert of my life. I too, did not want it to end! Sir Paul's charm was heart-warming and emanated through his guitar. The energy level was amazing! Timeless... my grandchildren will be singing his songs!

I saw Paul in NYC, Citi Field on July 17, and it was absolutely the best concert I have ever been to!
I saw the Beatles in Baltimore in 1964, and I think that concert (not that you could hear any music) was about 30 minutes. Give or take.
His set list was the same as Fedex, and the time was the same.
He truly is remarkable.

Paul was amazing, as always. My only complaint is, of course, the traffic. I am not at all surprised to hear people missed part or all of the show because of it.

Other than that, AMAZING! I was super pumped that he played "I'm Down", complete with the keyboard player running his elbow up and down the keys, just like John did at Shea Stadium. Awesome.

This was my fourth time seeing Paul and his voice and his showmanship are STILL unparalleled in the 20 years since the first time I've seen him perform. Highlights for me were: Something, Band on the Run, Got to Get You Into My Life, and Hey Jude. He is a living legend! I loved his story about Jimi Hendrix.

One big issue for me was the overly oppressive security who INSISTED rather loudly that we sit down. He kept putting his light in our eyes. Well, for one thing, this was a ROCK CONCERT, JERK! People STAND and DANCE and rock concerts! First, everyone sat. After a while people told him to go to hell and got back up! I was in Section 100 of the lower bowl and I'm glad to say that we all gave a collective screw off to the security clown, wanna-be cop.

I will see Paul in any venue, but I doubt I will ever go back to FedEx Field for anything, ever.

This was one of the best concerts I have ever seen! I have seen Paul over 7 times. Each time he improves with age. He looked and sounded amazing! I was with my 18 year old daughter and her friend, and we stood and danced the entire 3 hours. The traffic was HORRIBLE going home. But it was worth every second. My daughter finally knows what a concert is like with a "REAL" performer. I have to also agree that the security guards there were awful. No need to be mean and arrogant while people are trying to enjoy a show. That was probably the worst part of the evening. I am glad no one in my family is a Redskins Fan. We would never go there again!

Paul McCartney, like Bach or Beethoven in their time, is the class act of the 20th century and beyond. Paul's music can touch you emotionally in ways that many artists can only dream., from crying thru songs like "Yesterday" and "Here Today" to rocking like a punk with fists in the air to "Back in the USSR" and "Jet". That was the best concert I ever saw and like everyone else I did not want it to end. The concert was like a religious experience. Love you Paul.

I was shaking when I saw him come out on stage and that was before he even sang his first song. My husband just smiled at me all night because for 2 plus hours I was a teenager again, yelling, screaming, whistling and in general AWE of Paul. What a fabulous show. Traffic was horrible on the way in but we were out in less then 15 minutes and on our way. Can't wait to go to another one hopefully NOT fed ex field.

I'd like to share my extraordinary experience as well. It was a great concert as was the one in Citifield on 21 July. Mrs Vanderbilt was my highlight, the other songs were somewhat predictable, except as some readers pointed out I'm Down and I've Got a Feeling. All were thoroughly enjoyable. The accompanying videos lights and explosions were fantastic, the rollercoaster during Helter Skelter, The garden in Day in the Life, even the simple paece sign in Give Peace a Chance, accented the songs perfectly. I am a veteran concert goer and did leave early, so I avoided most of the beltway mess, but I did get into the special passes parking lines and was turned around once, drove around the stadium once and then found the "cash" lot, that was not taking cash. I was there without a ticket. So I did not pay for parking. Then I walked 100 yds through the parking lot and came across a lady with a VIP lounge seat, dead center! If I had gone any other way i would not have found this fantastic seat. So my Fedex experience was awesome! Sound was great, seats were great, staff was great, bathrooms were great, Paul was fantastic!!! If my name is posted find me on face book and check out the over 100 pics from DC and NY. Hell I might go to Boston too!

This show was spectacular. I will never forget it. Paul is as talented and charming as ever, and these band members are awesome.

However, I will never again attend an event at FedEx Field. The design of the seats is such that only a small 8 year old child can fit comfortably. I'd like to see a Redskin try to sit in one.

Also, ten minutes before a headliner show and the bathrooms didn't work. All of the toilets were stuffed to the rim and couldn't be flushed. They were filthy and no soap or towels were available.

Will endure only for Paul.

Once we arrived at our seats, the show was spectacular. We did miss the first half hour due to the horendous traffic. I will never go to any event to that place AGAIN! It seems obvious to me that Dan Snyder has soemthing to do with how this was set up. Talk about lack of organization! This is an example of it at the worst. Again Paul adnd the band were so, so great and I am glad my children bought me tickets to go.

The concert was amazing. I've see Paul several times and this was the best ever.
I agree with those who will never go to Fedex Field again. Sitting on the Beltway for 3 hours is no way to spend a Saturday evening. I too will never attend an event there. What a mess.

Simply brilliant! Paul just seems to get better with age. He sounded better than he did when I saw him on tour in 2005! The man is amazing! As for the traffic situation, we had absolutely no problem and we are from out of state and not familiar with the area. We got there early, around 6:00, and were directed to a spot near the stadium entrance. We were also able to get out surprisingly easily. The only problem we had were the ladies bathrooms having no water before the show.

Paul was truly FABULOUS!!!! Saw him before but this show was even better, except for the fact that it was at Fed X Field. My family sat in traffic for 3.5 hours trying to get into the venue. We treated my sister to field seats for her B-day and she missed the first 4 songs, due to THE BIGGEST TRAFFIC JAM IN THE UNIVERSE!!!!! Absolutely no assistance with traffic movement in the area to accommodate the crowd. Traffic was at a standstill to the point that many people had to get out of their cars to go to the bathroom in the bushes on route to the concert. I am thankful that we did experience most of the concert, after reading some reviews many people missed the entire performance. Thank you Paul for holding the concert for an hour so we could share the love!!!!

Now I remember why I love the beatles. Back in the 60's and 70's the world awaited each new Beatle release. Live and Let Die (with a pyrotechnic show), Hey Jude, Back in the USSR Great classics. Ho, Hey, Ho new to me great party song. Thanks for posting the set

oh my gosh! Paul is coooooolllll...i wish i were there, in washington,america, watching him singing...

I too was at this show. It was amazing. I have no complaints.The people on here complaining about the stadium and parking and traffic and all that..why did you wait till nearly 9 to come?I arrived at 730(you know,the time it says on your ticket?) and I had NO problems at all.Sure,I had to occupy myself till paul came on..but I made damn sure I was there before he did.Next time get there when you're supposed to and I promise you wont miss any part of the show!

And another do you miss part of a show that started nearly an hour and a half AFTER it was supposed to? It just amazes me. I went out to the concourse to smoke at like 845 and people were still coming in. THE TICKET SAYS 730. GET THERE EARLIER! Maybe next time I won't have to wait so long for him to come on because you idiots couldnt get there on time.

This was the 1st time I have ever seen Paul McCartney in Concert. I'm 21 years old and i can honestly say it was the BEST CONCERT I'VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. It goes to show it doesn't matter how old music is...good music is good music. Hell the man never even took a break! Non stop music and he was energetic through the entire show. I've been to numerous concerts of all different genre's and age groups. And by far most PAUL MCCARTNEY PUT EVERYONE ELSE TO SHAME!!!! I can't wait to go to his next concert!!!!!

Paul McCartney is the ultimate performer of our time. At 67, he truly rocks with the best of them. His tribute selections to George and John were phenomenal!

I can't wait to see Paul in Atlanta. I first went to see him in New Orleans in 1964, then Memphis in 1966, then saw Wings twice and have seen Paul twice, this will be 3rd time. I LOVE him to death - no one else comes close in concert experiences.

No words can do justice to this vibrant, rocking, moving, funny, exhilerating, kick ass show. Paul is in a class of his own. I travelled from the UK to see this was worth every check-in, security check, and grumpy passenger to be there. Incidentally, apologies to my fellow Metro travellers who, like me, made the mistake of getting off at Landover Metro. I tried to find you after the show without success. Hope you found Morgan Boulevard Metro on the way home. Love to Dia...

After reading all the posts, I can't hardly wait to see Paul perform in Dallas this coming week! I will take my 18 year old daughter with me and am highly anticipating a great show. See ya'll there!

Belated birthday gift 6/18. I wanted to go to citi field but he thought it to be too extravagant even though he's from Long Island and a horribly true Mets fan and we could visit family and it was for me...but I couldn't sell it, so Dallas it is and I'm guessing it's because we live south of Houston? See ya on the floor. I'll be the 54 yr old with a box of kleenex and a huge smile sitting next to the best husband and he'll have the bigger smile cuz he did it again...

thanks for the recap, just now read it. Sounds like it was an amazing show. I wasn't much of a Beatles fan growing up (more into the Stones) but that set list has me wishing I was there for sure.

Hey, his "Fireman" stuff is pretty good, if not what we're used to hearing from Sir Paul. Especially Sing the Changes, a great tune if a bit pop.

I need to check the tour and see how close to here it plays.

me again...

Bummed that the tour is gonna be in Dallas tomorrow, that is just too far to drive.

but Good News! His website has a link to your review Sam!


I've seen Macca about a half dozen times. Every time I've left thinking it was the absolute best. This time was no different. "I'm Down" hasn't been played since Shea Stadium in 1965. "Day Tripper", a real surprise, hasn't been live since their last concert at Candlestick in 1966. He rocked more than ever: Paperback Writer, Back in the USSR, I'm Down, I've Got a Feeling, Day Tripper, Saw Her Standing There, Helter Skelter, Drive My Car, Get Back, and I forget what else. I hope it wasn't the last time I see him. But if it was, he has given me 6 concerts that more than make up for not getting to see the Beatles when I was young.

Concert was just what everyone has written - but we were kept outside in the heat for almost two hours before they opened the stadium door- it was horrible - everyone was yelling - Let us In. people were fainting - paramedics had to be called. We were told we couldn't go in cuz Sir Paul was sound checking. If so - that was thoughtless. hundreds waiting outside in 102 heat. we enter soaked in our own sweat. started the show as a big downer- The organizers need to be more thoughtful of the patrons.

We who actually go back to 1963 or 64, when they came to the US, knew at the time that the Beatles were something special. Now, more than 40 years later Paul McCartney (once and forever "the cute one" has shown why. I was heartened to discover that I wasn't the only one crying. During The Long and Winding Road, I looked at his face on the large screen and cried. I turned to my husband and said,
" That,s Paul McCartney, and he's right here". And that is all I could say. I love him so much for being the kind, friendly, amazing, beautiful man he is.
Paul, thank you, thank you for so much. The music, the love, the happiness and everything you have given us for so many years. That'a all I can say.

Rick Nitsche, how can I find you on facebook? there are 4 Rick Nitsches & which one are you? How do I recognize you?

Fantastic show, 3rd time I have seen Paul and he never disappoints. I waas getting worried he was not going to do Yesterday but he did on an encore. Love you Paul - you are such a kind, loving, gentle soul. I am sure Linda was there watching too, she was and is your soulmate. Love, Lynn

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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