For a living legend whose entire career has consistently been redefined, it's a given that Sir Paul McCartney's headlining set at Firefly 2015 on Friday (June 19) would be career-defining, yet again. And on the second night of the four-day fest, the Beatles icon showed that not only does he consistently up himself, but he outshone the bounty of young talent that rocked the stages at the Delaware festival earlier in the day.
As a consummate performer, the 74-year-old kept the energy cranked for the duration of his near two-and-a-half hour show, running through a string of classics spanning his work with the Beatles, Wings and as a solo artist. Affable and jovial, he demonstrated musical versatility with ease -- strumming a ukulele, pounding a piano, plucking an acoustic guitar -- as well as endurance, for his first ever show in the first state.
McCartney began promptly at 10 p.m. following a riotous set from Run the Jewels on the adjacent stage. The crowd swelled to a remarkable volume--vastly larger than that of Morrissey, who played to a shockingly minute attendance hours prior--as Macca kicked off with "Birthday" and new cut "Save Us," setting the tone for the ebullient evening.
"We're gonna have a bit of a party here tonight," he said, blasting through "Got to Get You Into My Life" as animated portraits of his fellow Beatles appeared on the screens behind him. He paused for a moment to survey the crowd: "You know, this is so cool, I need to take a minute for myself and check it all out."
At a point, his show turned political, as he paid his respects to the victims of the Charleston, S.C. shooting that claimed nine lives earlier in the week. "Let's take a moment to pray for peace and harmony amongst people of different colors in the world," said McCartney, seated behind a piano. A chill-inducing rendition of "The Long and Winding Road" followed, a noble tribute to the victims of a senseless act.
Though the mood was temporarily somber, he kept the crowd's spirits high. He dedicated several songs to the late key figures in his life -- a cover of "Foxy Lady" for Jimi Hendrix, "Here Today" for John Lennon, "Maybe I'm Amazed" for Linda McCartney, "Something" for George Harrison -- and played hit after hit, including "Eleanor Rigby," "Blackbird" and "Lady Madonna," where he cheekily addressed the odorous contraband wafting towards the stage: "What's that I can smell in the air?"
What McCartney proved, though, is that though there's nothing left to prove for a living legend, he's got the chops to outshine even himself. There was nary a dull moment as he breathlessly pounced from instrument to instrument, song to song, ceaselessly and effortlessly exceeding the unreachable expectations set before him. As he reemerged for the encore, waving the U.S. flag with band members brandishing British and Delaware flags, he was joyous, an artist who never gave up on his craft. Few musicians at Firefly were that advanced-- and McCartney showed that he was still miles ahead of them.
Here is Paul McCartney's Firefly set list:
"Got to Get You Into My Life"
"Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five"
"The Long and Winding Road"
"Maybe I'm Amazed"
"I've Just Seen a Face"
"We Can Work It Out"
"And I Love Her"
"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite"
"Band on the Run"
"Back in the U.S.S.R."
"Let It Be"
"Live and Let Die"
"Hi, Hi, Hi"
"Can't Buy Me Love"
"Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End"