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If we do a Beatles’ song, the whole place lights up with your phones, it’s like a galaxy of stars. When we play a new one, it looks like a black hole. But we don’t care—we’re going to play them anyhow.Paul McCartney
From San Diego City Beat, June 26, 2019:
Ask anyone who covers the local music scene and they’ll tell you that sometimes San Diego blows it when it comes to hot, up-and-coming music acts. Here’s how it usually plays out: An act will come through town just after, or just before, playing a Los Angeles show. More often than not, that L.A. show will be sold out, which is generally not the case with the San Diego show. In fact, the San Diego show often ends up serving as an encore or warm-up to the L.A. appearance. This isn’t the band’s fault, but because San Diegans don’t show up. What’s worse, the band remembers and is much more likely to skip San Diego on its next tour.
So imagine being the biggest band in the world, selling out stadiums all over the U.S. and Europe, only to come to San Diego and not even selling two-thirds of the available tickets. Such was the case on Aug. 28, 1965, when The Beatles—fresh off a sold-out show in L.A.—came to San Diego to play at the old Balboa Stadium. Those lucky enough to have been there witnessed the band’s one and only appearance in San Diego.
Nearly 54 years later, Paul McCartney, looking as svelte and sounding nearly as crisp as he did in the ’60s, opened his sold-out show at Petco Park with “A Hard Day’s Night,” one of the same numbers The Beatles played in 1965. And with more than double the amount of people that showed up to that Beatles gig in 1965, it seems San Diegans have since learned their lesson. Well, at least some of those who were old enough to remember.
[…] “If we do a Beatles’ song, the whole place lights up with your phones,” McCartney said just after the one-two punch of “Lady Madonna” and “Eleanor Rigby.” “It’s like a galaxy of stars. When we play a new one, it looks like a black hole. But we don’t care—we’re going to play them anyhow.”
It was charming to see the San Diego crowd light the place up with their phones (there were even—gasp—a few lighters) as he played one of those newer songs […]
Alas, McCartney did not play “Yesterday,” a song I would have personally loved to hear, but he did nearly burn the place down with “Live and Let Die” (like, literally—there was a pyrotechnics display that approached Big Bay Boom levels). Ash from the fireworks fell on me like snow as I looked around at the faces around me. Nearly 54 years since the first time he came to San Diego, Paul McCartney had a sold-out crowd in the palm of his hand. And he didn’t let them down.
From paulmccartney.com, July 8, 2019:
Barely a week’s respite and it was time for Paul’s second show at San Diego’s massive Petco Park—and his fourth show ever in San Diego: the first being The Beatles’ 1965 concert at Balboa Stadium, and the second with Wings in 1976 at the former San Diego Sports Arena (since rechristened Valley View Casino Center). And we’re not counting a 2003 private party in Rancho Santa Fe.
This time Paul’s return to San Diego came a bit sooner than the 38 years between Wings in 1976 and his solo show in 2014. Here he was back at Petco Park, once again playing (and once again selling out) the same 40K+ capacity home of the Padres as he did five years before—a show that the word “legendary” doesn’t even quite do justice. I mean… how many times do you see the word “WOW!” in the headline of a major daily paper? I honestly only recall that one time in the review of that 2014 Paul show by the SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE—the very same review that described the evening’s vibe as follows: “time almost stood still as Beatlemania was seemingly reborn at an ecstatic downtown celebration.”
Soundcheck simmered in the sunlight of a picture-perfect day, reminding us of how Paul’s voice and a ukulele can immerse a stadium in joyful sound, as he soloed ‘Ram On’. One particularly boisterous ‘Lady Madonna’ closed out the pre-show festivities and, from there, it was on to the (impossible) task at hand: Topping that 2014 Petco Park show. And did Paul rise to the (unimaginable) challenge?
As the show clanged to life with the first San Diego performance of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ since that legendary Beatles show, tens of thousands of voices sounded a unanimous verdict: Yes. The charge in the air never let up–not even during ‘Something’ and ‘Here Today’, the tributes to the dearly departed with whom Paul shared that San Diego stage in 1965—it simply changed current.
One unusual sighting unique to the Petco audience was a fan-made sign emblazoned with the motto of Paul and George Harrison’s alma mater, the Liverpool Institute: “Non nobis solum sed toti mundo nati,” translated: “We are born not just for ourselves but for the whole world.”
Paul mused aloud on how appropriate that creed was for a school attended by half of The Beatles: “For the world were we…”
Nearly three hours of peak Paul whizzed by, punctuated by surprises like NBA legend Bill Walton caught on camera (in fairness, it’s difficult for a man of his stature to not be “caught”), an especially raucous ‘Helter Skelter’ and, in addition to the traditional barrage of pyro and flashpots that accompanies ‘Live and Let Die’, San Diego was bid farewell with a second fireworks display at the close of ‘The End’.
And in the end… did Paul’s 2019 Petco tour de force surpass his historic 2014 show? If you were one of the 42,000+ in attendance, you know the answer.Steve Martin, Paul’s publicist
Last updated on July 8, 2019
Setlist for the concert