Damascus student LAYLA MUIR writes this music review exclusively for Emerging, a partnership between The Courier and Damascus College to create a platform for young people to publish their work. Layla's latest music review is from Paul McCartney's Got Back concert in Melbourne in late October, 2023.
"Look, I'm not the youngest here," I say after reaching the top of the stairs off Bourke Street.
Among the gathering crowd outside Marvel Stadium, I've already spotted a young boy, about eight or nine years old, walking easily in an Abbey Road shirt.
The ongoing joke of the weekend has been I was going to bring the age-average down and I feel quite a humoured camaraderie at seeing this young boy clothed in a photo taken 50-odd years before he was born.
As the stadium begins filling, an anonymous DJ provided a remix of Beatles hits accompanied by a kaleidoscope of colours, a signature psychedelic light show.
It is a lovely backdrop to the chatter of masses; grandparents, friends, mothers, fathers, children, visitors and among it all a handful of distinguishable Scouse accents here to see their hometown hero, more than 17,000 kilometres from Liverpool.
The half an hour leading up to the show is supported by a photograph montage of photographs of McCartney's incredible life: his childhood, Beatles days, Wings tours, to his historical Glastonbury headline act last year.
It's these kinds of things that stand the hairs up on your arms like soldiers to attention. The realisation you are in the presence of utter greatness.
The catalogue of memories culminates with the famous final note of the Beatles' 'A Day in My Life' before the man himself, Sir Paul McCartney, makes his entrance with, arguably the invention of pop music, 'Can't Buy Me Love'.
The first song sets the mood for the rest of the night - a joyous celebration of glory, nostalgia, grief, love, the '60s, the Beatles, his crew, friends and foes of it all intoxicated with McCartney's humour, talent and the mutual adoration ricocheting between the audience and entertainer.
The icon goes into a collection of hits with 'Junior's Farm', 'Letting Go', 'She's a Woman', 'Got to Get You into My Life' and 'Come on To Me'. After a quick interlude and story time about Eric Clapton being Jimi Hendrix's guitar technician, McCartney goes into the groovy Wings number 'Let Me Roll It'.
The pre-chorus riffs compel an obligatory sway from the crowd before bursting out to croon the chorus. McCartney's vocals are as strong as ever.
There's a saying that time is a wonderful storyteller and McCartney, rich in anecdotes, does not beg to differ.
He is one of those people who talks in a way that entrances you in a tunnel of felicity. You could listen to him talk about his life and experiences for hours, enchanted by his charm and assured by his knowledge.
He's the grandfather who recalls his time at war or the neighbour who reminisces on his promising sporting career before that detrimental knee injury. Only this time, the neighbour is Paul McCartney and the knee injury is John Lennon.
He recalls the early days in The Quarrymen (which later evolved into the Beatles), ambling around Liverpool. The mention of the maritime city elicits impassioned screams from a Scouse duo sitting behind me.
The five members of his band each put in a pound to record their first ever demo: 'In Spite of All the Danger'.
There's a charming innocence to the song that transports you back to the late '50s and covertly promises you this little skiffle group will be immortalised in the history of music.
McCartney tells the story of how he apprehensively ended up doing vocals on the first-ever Beatles release due to John's struggles with the harmonica, saying "but to this day when I hear the record, I can hear the terror in my voice... But not tonight".
He launches into 'Love Me Do', sending the audience into a frenzy, then follows up with 'Dance Tonight' and 'Blackbird', the latter a rather relevant sentiment after the referendum outcome and with the devastation occurring in the Middle East: "Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly".
After the 200 shared writing credits, the incredible friendship, the rise to fame, the integral companionship, and the stubborn and unyielding love between the two, the grief of John Lennon's death is put into perspective by McCartney's devastatingly beautiful ballad 'Here Today'.
Before starting, McCartney says "let's hear it for John". A standing ovation echoes throughout the stadium for a long time. Lennon's legacy living on years after his lifetime and the applause foreshadowing its continuance years after this lifetime: "and if I say I really loved you and was glad you came along, then you were here today, for you were in my song".
We hear the fast-paced rock and roller 'Jet', followed by the hippy Beatles ditty 'Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite' before a ukulele rendition of Beatles tune 'Something' dedicated to none other than fellow Beatles bandmate George Harrison.
It recounts the loving friendship and the fierce brotherhood of the old school friends turned music gods.
A staggering five-song grand slam leads us into the encore in an unbelievable fashion.
The Wings record-breaking hit 'Band on The Run' makes itself known as a crowd favourite before McCartney relentlessly goes into the tour's name origin 'Get Back'.
A piano ballad of 'Let It Be' is accompanied by the choir of Marvel Stadium's audience where we even find the generosity to create a dazzling light show with our phone torches.
Bond theme song and Shrek feature 'Live and Let Die' does not let down with astonishing pyrotechnics, accompanied by very Bond-esque laser beam lights, conveying the epitome of live entertainment with that sense you can feel in the depth of your chest.
Bringing the encore to a close is the unparalleled wonder that is 'Hey Jude', the type of song you feel blessed to be alive to hear. It's an elegant entity of hope and assurance, a comfort accoutered in a faultless melody.
Most of all it is for the people.
It is bellowed by the choir of an army where indifference was an absent idea.
When it comes to the chorus of na na's, McCartney begins with "okay this time, just the guys...just the fellas" before moving into (McCartney's self-proclaimed personal favourite) "just the girls, just the ladies," then a culmination of "and everybody all together now".
It is an ethereal, pinch yourself moment to look around and see thousands of people all come together in solidarity and joy just because of this song.
I look behind me to see two young boys, likely brothers, with their arms around each other swaying side to side crooning that famous "Na na na nananana, nannana, Hey Jude..."
It is a little restoration in the faith of humanity.
The encore hears 'I Got A Feeling', 'Birthday', 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band', 'Helter Skelter' and the beautiful 'Golden Slumbers' a touching sentiment to the Got Back reference and also to the final Beatles 'Now and Then' song ahead of its release.
The final song of the night is 'The End'. This echoes around the gladiatorial concrete box: "And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make."
At 81-years-old you might not expect McCartney's departing words to be "I'll see you next time", and yet they were.
Making our way back to the car park, under dimly lit streetlights, in the throbbing activity of post-concert Melbourne my dad concludes with "I want to see Paul's birth certificate."
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