It’s 5:45 pm and I am standing outside Gate C on the northwest side of the dome as baby boomers with “Beatles” graphic t-shirts line up to see one of the most influential musicians and songwriters of all time: Sir Paul McCartney. The crowd ranges from die-hard fans who have seen McCartney perform multiple times to newbies who have yet to even attend a concert, each and every person equally excited. When I first found out ROTC cadets had the opportunity to work security detail and get into the concert for free, I knew that this was my one chance to see a living legend.
I love The Beatles. They produced the masterpiece (my favorite album), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Additionally, the goose-bump inducing Band on the Run by the Wings is in one of my favorite songs of all time. Whether it’s their upbeat, dance-instigator “Twist and Shout” or their soft, somber “Yesterday”, there’s a Beatles song that’s the perfect puzzle piece for every kind of mood and emotion. To say I was excited was an understatement.
The Vice President of the dome was determined to have every seat filled by 8 o’clock. In order to accelerate the security checks we were asked to shout “Empty your pockets and have your bags ready to be checked” because, allegedly, McCartney won’t commence the concert if he sees empty seats.
Eight o’clock rolls around, and I begin to hear the muffled acoustics of what I later find out to be “A Hard Day’s Night” through the cement walls of the Carrier Dome. At 8:15, all of the ROTC cadets rendezvous at Gate G to enter the concert. Continuing the job, now handing out water bottles rather than manning the door, I walked all around outer rim on the third floor to the soothing, pleasant sound of McCartney’s lyrics and instrumentals. When I would bring water to the guides helping people find their seats, I’d get glimpses of the concert teasing me with its flashing lights and colossal LED screens on either side of the band. My anticipation built with each hint of McCartney’s voice without interference from the walls holding up the stands.
After handing out all of the waters, we are escorted to our press box seating area. I feel like the king and queen at a jousting match, overlooking the main event. The first full song I am able to hear without any hindrance is “Maybe I’m Amazed,” and I am immediately filled with pleasure as the sound waves of the riffs and chords wail on my eardrums.
McCartney performed a total of 39 songs, a majority of which were renditions of Beatles songs. He also played a song that was The Quarrymen’s (the band that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison formed before The Beatles) first ever recorded song: “In Spite of All the Danger.” Another highlight of the night was the rendition of “Live and Let Die.” They had flamethrowers and fireworks synchronized with the chorus. Had it not been for the numerous amount of people cheering, one would’ve thought they were in an action-packed James Bond film.
During the chorus of “Hey Jude” the stadium erupted into a chant of “Naaa na na na na na naaa na na na naaa heeeyyy Juude.” The sight and sound of that particular moment was breathtaking. It was a physical manifestation of the purpose of The Beatles’ music: bring people together.
For each song off of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album the stage illuminated into a kaleidoscope of colors, giving the illusion of a drug trip. “A Day in the Life” secured it’s spot as one of my favorite songs of all time.
To conclude the show McCartney played three of the four closing songs on the iconic album Abbey Road: “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “The End.” Hearing this classic concluding trio created a newfound love for those songs and the album as a whole.
Looking back on the concert, I know that it’s a story I will tell the younger generations as I age, hoping to incite an appreciation for a music legend. The concert was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. Working security only added to the ambience, knowing that I “helped” Sir Paul McCartney begin on time.