Concert Review: Paul McCartney Gives Epic Performance in Portland

Paul McCartney on piano

Paul McCartney performed at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon on Friday


73 years old.

Nearly 40 songs and more than 2 ½ hours of music.

That was Paul McCartney who played to a massive, capacity crowd on Friday for his One on One tour at the Moda Center in Portland, OR.

There’s little need to critique the performance because it was Paul McCartney. But here’s the thing  – the former Beatle played flawlessly. He pulled out hits and dove into deep album material in a catalog of songs stretching back 50 years. Of course he played songs by his most famous band. Fans of Wings went home happy and those who follow his solo work were likely thrilled. If you’re in all three camps then it turned into a legendary evening.

Paul McCartney singing

Paul McCartney on bass

McCartney seemed genuinely moved by the audience turnout and early in the show took a moment to, as he said, “drink it all in.” What a second…that’s what we were doing. An icon of icons and in many respects a living historical figure still doing what he does best. Performing his music.

McCartney and his band, consisting of (co-founder of Ednaswap) Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray on guitar, percussionist Abe Laboriel, Jr. and Paul Wickens on keyboards, started the evening with the popular Beatles song “A Hard Day’s Night,” then “Save Us” off his latest solo effort New from 2013, the uber favorite “Can’t Buy Me Love,” the rocking Wings song “Letting Go” and the very catchy, and somewhat amusing “Temporary Secretary” from the 1980 solo release McCartney II.

The evening followed a similar format intertwining mostly Beatles songs with cuts from Wings and others from his solo albums, including three off New. He followed the slow and bluesy Wings song “Let Me Roll It” by paying homage to Jimi Hendrix playing an outtake of “Foxy Lady” before diving in to the Beatles’ “I’ve Got a Feeling.” His current wife Nancy Shevell was in the house who he dedicated “My Valentine” from his 2012 release Kisses on the Bottom.

Paul McCartney with Band

Paul McCartney and Rusty Anderson (L) and Brian Ray

McCartney was never without an instrument in-hand whether it was his bass guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, a piano, of which there were two, or a ukulele, one given to him by George Harrison and used during “Something” which he dedicated to his old band mate. He didn’t forget John Lennon either, toasting to him before playing the emotional “Here Today” a love song of sorts written for Lennon and released on the 1982 album Tug of War. You could hear the loss, still today, McCartney feels for his slain friend.

Knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1997, Sir Paul took no breaks; save for a handful of times he injected some stories or talked about how certain songs came to life, including the pre-Beatles song “In Spite of All the Danger” which hearkens back to the 1950s with The

Paul McCartney on electric

Paul McCartney on electric guitar

Quarrymen. He wasn’t jumping from speakers or performing any high kicks but he walked freely around stage showing little if any signs of slowing down. Strategically placed computer screens displayed song lyrics which he used on occasion and his vocal range came across strong and only during “Here, There and Everywhere” did you get a hint of his age but then he followed that with “Maybe I’m Amazed” which he wrote for his first wife Linda, and absolutely crushed it.

Yes, he played the awesome “Eleanor Rigby,” he pulled out “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and after  “Back in the U.S.S.R”  he told the story of how he was the first rock band to play on Red Square, which happened in 2004, and the Russian Defense Secretary upon meeting McCartney said the first album he ever bought was “Love Me Do.” Funny because it was the Russian Defense Secretary or because “Love Me Do” isn’t actually an album? It didn’t matter. It was funny. And McCartney charmed all evening. In fact, nearly three hours of just storytelling would have sold out the place.

He pulled on the heartstrings with the emotional “Let It Be” and let a rousing edition of “Hey Jude” with the audience singing along to close out the first set. It’s hard to imagine how he maintained his

Paul McCartney on acoustic

Paul McCartney on acoustic guitar

composure opening the encore with the reflective and very apropos “Yesterday.” But he brought the fun back playing “Birthday” and he and the rest of the band closed the show with a rocking jam on “The End.”

The Wings material allowed him to, well, spread his wings so to speak. A bit more octane then the Beatles era, lots more guitar using heavier beats like “Band on the Run” and he dazzled on the piano for “Nineteen Hundred and Eight-Five.” But nothing came close to the James Bond classic “Live and Let Die” that exploded on stage, literally too, as a sudden boom on one of the down beats ignited a dozen or so fountains of flames across the front and behind the stage leaving anyone in the first few rows with a mild tan.

McCartney’s music doesn’t typically give blistering guitar solos, open throttle drum fills or head-banging rhythms. Not overly complex, sometimes simple but damn if they’re not catchy. And he certainly doesn’t fit today’s popular mold which seems to change yearly. But unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last six decades it’s pretty hard to escape hearing the Beatles and McCartney songs because classic rock radio plays them, adult contemporary and oldies stations too, that one that plays everything, and sometimes even alternative rock when McCartney’s bands fit into whatever “theme” meshes within the current marketing promotion.

You don’t even necessarily need to like his music though based on the demographics cheering him on at the Moda Center, his reach is far and wide. His influence cannot be denied. McCartney and his partners helped usher in the rock-and-roll era of the 1960s and music hasn’t been the same since.

Paul McCartney Portland (Moda Center) Setlist:

  1. A Hard Day’s Night
  2. Save Us
  3. Can’t Buy Me Love
  4. Letting Go
  5. Temporary Secretary
  6. Let Me Roll It
  7. Foxy Lady Outtake
  8. “I’ve Got a Feeling
  9. My Valentine
  10. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
  11. Here, There and Everywhere
  12. Maybe I’m Amazed
  13. We Can Work It Out
  14. In Spite of All the Danger
  15. You Won’t See Me
  16. Love Me Do
  17. And I Love Her
  18. Blackbird
  19. Here Today
  20. Queenie Eye
  21. New
  22. The Fool on the Hill
  23. Lady Madonna
  24. FourFiveSeconds
  25. Eleanor Rigby
  26. Being for the benefit of Mr. Kite
  27. Something
  28. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
  29. Band on the Run
  30. Back in the U.S.S.R.
  31. Let It Be
  32. Live and Let Die
  33. Hey Jude
  34. Yesterday
  35. Hi, Hi, Hi
  36. Birthday
  37. Golden Slumbers
  38. Carry That Weight
  39. The End


Written By: AndrewT

Concert Review: for King and Country Fix Their Eyes on Portland

for King and Country

for King and Country at the Keller Auditorium in Portland. OR

Drums. Lots of them. Lasers. Strobes and some confetti too.

But beyond all the pomp and circumstance exists a message. A message of hope and love delivered the best way for King & Country knows how.

The pop duo hailing from Australia, sort of, recently commenced their current world tour and brought a show that’s less rock concert and more marching band on steroids to the Keller Auditorium on Sunday in Portland, OR. It wasn’t a sold-out crowd, far from it, but fans ranging in age from tween to 60 and above filled the entire orchestra section and the first few rows of the second level .

Actually, you could call them the Australian Imagine Dragons but for King and Country is very much American as the family moved to the United States from down under 25 years ago. They bring sometimes breath taking drum beats just a few steps away from electronic dance and the stage show is immense incorporating a visual display that rivals bigger more mainstream acts playing large venues.

for King & Country (yes little “r”) played a 16 song set over the course of nearly two hours diving deep into their latest album Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong. released in 2014 with a deluxe anniversary edition offered last year featuring a few extras.

Joel Smallbone

Joel Smallbone

The band, fronted by brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone, kicked things off with a shower of confetti and started the show with “Run Wild” then “To The Dreamers” before firing off three straight from their 2012 debut album Crave – “Fine, Fine Life,” “Light It Up,” and “Middle of Your Heart” where the brothers ventured out into the audience throwing out high fives and even climbing into the aisles and standing on chair armrests all without skipping a note…or falling.

Back to the latest release with “Priceless” which also doubles as the title to a new movie out later this year, produced by for King & Country and featuring Joel in an acting role. The title track to Crave came next followed by “The Proof of Your Love” the single and smash hit which put the band in the hearts and minds of it’s listeners.

It was truly an amped-up version getting special treatment as the Smallbone’s and the rest of their band stood center stage, spread out single file, much like a drum line. The finishing touches was smashing as they went into a fast jam using the variety of solo drums and percussion sets on stage.

It wasn’t all music all the time as Joel introduced “Priceless” – thus giving a hint as to the plot of their movie – by emboldening girls to believe in themselves, avoid bad relationship and not get caught up in the worldview of how a woman should look. At the same time he charged the men in the audience to respect their counterparts.

After “Proof” concluded Luke discussed the band’s involvement with Compassion International, a worldwide child sponsorship ministry, encouraging the audience to check the organization out and offered a complimentary copy of their latest album to anyone who signs up for a month of giving.

A 20 minute intermission ensued, unusual to say the least, just eight songs in and it felt like for King and Country were just getting started but in many respects it made perfect sense. The time off stage took the focus from the band and turned it on to the non-profit organization as not many would likely take time out post-concert.

The band made a triumph return using lots of bass drum with “No Turning Back” off the latest album then back to Crave with the fun and upbeat “Busted Heart (Hold On To Me).” “It’s Not Over Yet” brought out the “string section” as Joel called it which consisted of a cello and violin but sounded like so much more.

The band wrote much of Run Wild. Live Free. L0ve Strong during a health scare for Luke who battled ulcerative colitis a few years ago which got so bad his wife and parents questioned whether he’d survive. The experience led Luke to write  including “Without You” which he delivered beautifully along with that excruciating lyric I don’t want to live without you/I’m not ready to live without you. Luke said the idea behind the song developed when he realized the time to rejoice is when were most in pain not when things are going well.

The second half of the set feature mostly tracks from Run Wild. Live Free. L0ve Strong including their latest single “Fix My Eyes” but overall the setlist consisted of a good chunk of songs from both albums as they grabbed nine off Run Wild… and added a cover of Lecrae’s “Messengers” to open the encore which the band is featured guests on. Left off the set unfortunately, was the inspiring “Matters” which would have fit right in to the strong themes expressed by the Smallbone’s and likely would have resonated more in the hearts of those in the audience then “Messengers.”

The duo is backed by five other well-accomplished musicians, indeed one held a trombone while a bass guitar dangled from his neck. The seven function as a cohesive unit interchanging instruments often.

Joel, 31 and Luke, 29 show a remarkable sense of self-awareness which is not only evident in their lyrics but their urging on of fans to be apart of something bigger than themselves, certainly for their King and perhaps for their country.

The Smallbone’s come from a family of musicians, their sister is singer Rebecca St. James, and neither one shy away from their strongly held Christian faith. Yet, they figured out a nice balance mixing their message into a musical style that certainly resonates with the masses.

At the end of the second set, Joel gave a benediction of sorts and indeed called his charge to the audience in making a difference with their lives, just that. Little did anyone realize up until this point, they just had a worship service, without attending church.

for King & Country – Portland (Keller Auditorium) Setlist:

  1. Run Wild.
  2. To The Dreamers
  3. Fine Fine Life
  4. Light It Up
  5. Middle Of Your Heart
  6. Priceless
  7. Crave
  8. The Proof Of Your Love
  9. No Turning Back
  10. Busted Heart (Hold On To Me)
  11. It’s Not Over Yet
  12. Without You
  13. Shoulders
  14. Fix My Eyes
  15. Messengers(Lecrae song)
  16. O God Forgive Us

Written By: AndrewT