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Paul McCartney gives Sprint Center crowd a show for the ages

Rock 'n' roll legend Paul McCartney played to the crowd after his second number Wednesday night at the Sprint Center. The former Beatle was warmly received by the packed house.
Rock 'n' roll legend Paul McCartney played to the crowd after his second number Wednesday night at the Sprint Center. The former Beatle was warmly received by the packed house. The Kansas City Star

The best things in life aren’t always free, but they’re often worth the wait — like Paul McCartney’s show at the Sprint Center on Wednesday evening.

Nearly four years to the day after his previous performance here, McCartney returned to the arena in downtown Kansas City. And though ticket prices were steeper this time (more than $250 for the best seats) and though the start of the show was delayed about 40 minutes, he delivered another memorable performance, one that is sure to top a “best-ever” list among most of the fans in the nearly sold-out arena.

For more than two and a half hours, McCartney, who turned 72 in June, unleashed more than three dozen songs, taking only the slightest of breaks between encores, pulling classics from both his Beatles and solo catalogs, playing bass, rhythm and lead guitar and piano throughout.

Backed by a four-piece band, he opened with something old and new: “Eight Days a Week,” which sounded as fresh as it did when it was released 50 years ago, then “Save Us,” from his “New” album, released in October. After that came an exhilarating mix of solo and Beatles hits, delivered with a vigor uncommon for a guy in his 70s performing his third marathon show in five nights.

He told some of the same stories and anecdotes he did four years ago, including the Jimi Hendrix/“Sgt. Pepper’s” story and the tale about “Paperback Writer” and the guitar he wrote it on. But he played each of the 39 songs with the same enthusiasm and vigor. And he prefaced “Something” with a tribute to his former bandmate, the late George Harrison, and then played it on a ukulele.

And all night, he acknowledged the crowd, stopping at one point to take in its size and the volume of ovation it was raining upon him — an audience that included many people his own age, including some in attendance with their great-grandchildren. He also played to the hometown spirit, mentioning the Chiefs a few times and getting an ovation for each one (but no mention of barbecue from the devout vegan).

Highlights? How about the entire show, starting with an early fusillade of hits: “The Long and Winding Road,” “Maybe I’m Amazed” (dedicated to his late wife, Linda), “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” “We Can Work It Out,” “Another Day,” “And I Love Her” and “Blackbird.” Before that one, he reminded the crowd of its connection to the U.S. civil rights movement and then thanked anyone in the crowd who’d learned to play it (most likely incorrectly) on guitar.

His stamina and versatility was impressive. Several times he switched gears from a raucous rock tune, like “Back in the U.S.S.R.” to a ballad, like “Let It Be.” His encore, which came more than two hours after he started, included “Day Tripper,” “Kansas City” and a rip-snorting version of “Helter Skelter.”

He closed with a trilogy from “Abbey Road,” including the lullabye “Golden Slumbers” and “The End,” which includes one of his most quoted lines, about the give and take of love. There was plenty of that going on inside the Sprint Center on Wednesday night, and most of it felt genuine and indelible.

To reach Timothy Finn, call 816-234-4781 or send email to tfinn@kcstar.com.

SET LIST

Eight Days a Week; Save Us; All My Loving; Listen to What the Man Said; Let Me Roll It; Paperback Writer; My Valentine; 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; Another Day; And I Love Her; Blackbird; Here Today; New; Queenie Eye; Lady Madonna; All Together Now; Lovely Rita; Everybody Out There; Eleanor Rigby; Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite; Something; Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da; Band on the Run; Back in the U.S.S.R.; Let It Be; Live and Let Die; Hey Jude. Encore: Day Tripper; Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey; I Saw Her Standing There; Yesterday; Helter Skelter; Golden Slumbers; Carry That Weight; The End.

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