Behind the Curtain: The I-Macca-late 2nd Coming of Paul

24 May

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The most amazing part of our second evening spent with Sir Paul was how serendipitous it was. Zack and I didn’t have tickets to the show, since we didn’t know Zack would even be able to go until a week out. I had a ticket to the Thursday night show with my dad, so I was content to attend just one Austin MACCA performance. However, when Zack was suddenly free* and I had no after-work plans, it was decided. We took $100 in small bills, parked our car right around the listed showtime, and sauntered down the street toward The Erwin Center. We both agreed we’d wait at least 30 minutes into the show if we had to, to make sure we were getting an affordable deal**. We hardly had to wait 5***

*I’ve already maxed out on vacation time through our September Europe trip, but once my work team announced a group outing to see Star Trek and my manager asked me to work 12-9, I figured why not ask if I could work 10:30-7:30 and catch the 8 pm Macca show. My manager was cool with it and I had a feeling we could score a couple tickets.

**Scalpers get more and more desperate as the show goes on. I once got into Bruce Springsteen at the Erwin Center for $10. My dad often used this trick at Cubs games when I was a kid and it always made me nervous, but now I look forward to the haggling.

***We barely broke stride! And boy did we get even luckier once we actually got inside.

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The first scalper we approached wanted $200 a ticket*. That wasn’t happening. The next guy wanted about half that. I told him we just wanted to get in the building. His buddy had the cheap seats. He waved him over and tried to sell us two for $100. I told him we’d pay $80. He pulled out the tickets. “These aren’t together,” I told him. “You’re not going to find two together for under 100.” “I’ll give you 70 for the pair.” “Fine.” Done deal. Now the only issue was our seats were on opposite sides of the arena, both in the balcony. One of our seats said row two on it and the other one said row 19. We decided to check out row two first. It was in the very first section next to the curtain. It’s one of those seats that could have been obstructed view, but had a surprisingly clear view of the stage. And, of course, the only open seat in the entire section was the one next to our seat. Jackpot**

*This was for floor tickets, so I understood his asking price. Those sold at $277 a pop from the online sale. **Admittedly, it had severely stressed me out when we didn’t get tickets together, but as we sat down in these perfect seats, I thought, I should never, ever doubt Zack. He puts his faith in the universe and, 9 times out of 10, the universe comes through for him.

It’s hard to pick out favorite moments from a three hour show by a total legend. I loved being able to see the lights and flash of the stage show up close. I loved Paul’s banter with Austin and how he catered to the town, asking if there were any Spanish speakers and then rambling off a phrase (presumably something humorous) in Spanish that he learned and said has “come in handy” a few times. I still loved the pomp and circumstance of “Live and Let Die.” And, of course, there were the cryers. The songs that just made me lose it. Unlike in Houston, I didn’t cry for the first few tunes Paul played. But when he took to the piano and proclaimed, “I wrote this next song for Linda,” something snapped in me*. The beauty of this guy who clearly still sees himself as a 30-something with a boyish face and a messy beard playing one of the most raw and incredible love songs, and still thinking of it as the song for the love of his life, broke me. Even though he forgot the chords to “Maybe I’m Amazed,” I cried through him laughing at himself and starting over again, and just wept openly as he sang his heart out for the rest of it. Then again, when Paul sang his song for John, “Here Today,” the emotion of the loss of his bosom friend hit me and I cried again**. That kind of emotional experience is beyond compare for me.

*She really let out a heaving cry for this one. Even Paul stopping the song completely and restarting couldn’t slow those tears. We may have to be Paul and Linda for Halloween sooner than later. 

**This is one I often cry at even if it’s just me listening to it alone in my car, but I didn’t cry once this show. 

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My favorite part of the show was Caitlin’s fear/excitement/fear of indoor fireworks. She actually made an escape route*. She figured my triathlon training would allow me to escape. When they actually went off, she grabbed and clawed at my knee so hard I feared she’d tear my ACL**. Pretty amazing. *This one’s for you, mom! **Huge exaggeration. I squeezed his knee here; I dug my nails in during a different song.

Look, there was a lot to love about Paul’s show. The pyrotechnics during “Live and Let Die” were so awesome inside I felt the need to take a second vine. Macca raising up 15 feet on a riser for “Blackbird” was a great addition to this tour, “Something” on ukelele was lovely as always and “Past Masters” like “Paperback Writer,” “We Can Work it Out,” and “Daytripper” always slay. But it wasn’t Paul at his absolute best. He completely forgot the words to “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which was admittedly charming, and his stories about Hendrix and Clapton or meeting the Ministry of Defense in Russia were still as incredible as when he told us the same ones in November, but they dragged a bit. I’m nit picking. Paul totally ruled, but I never fully got immersed in it and let go and cried and got caught up in the magic of it all. Don’t get me wrong, I still soaked it all in and loved being there with Caitlin, but it wasn’t a “once in a lifetime” experience like the last show. 

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As Zack and I headed out of the Erwin Center post-MACCA performance, we compared notes. For Zack, Austin wasn’t even comparable to the Houston show, with critiques ranging from Paul’s performance to the setlist. For me, I still ranked the show among my all-time favorites, and even though it wasn’t quite as sparkly and new as the Houston show, I thought Paul gave an amazing performance and the set list, for me, had about the same number of “meh” song choices as the one before. Still, when it came down to numbers, we both landed on a 9.6. Paul on a slightly off night with a less than stellar set-list is still better than just about anyone. You’re going to still get 15-20 of the greatest songs ever written by a legend among legends who still absolutely has it. I’m thrilled that we got to go and would go see Paul every single chance I get the rest of his life. He’s just the best. And even though I’m jealous Caitlin got to enjoy it with her dad and I couldn’t pull off seeing Paul with my dad, there’s no one I’d rather see Macca with than her.

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