Editor’s Note: On Oct 4-5 Paul McCartney performed at Sacramento’s New Golden 1 Center. I attended the concert with my sister, Shirley on Oct. 5. She’s a huge McCartney and Beatles fan. When she isn’t writing history books and serving as a guest speaker at various events, she occasionally contributes entertainment/pop culture features for

Here is her review of Sir Paul McCartney’s big show.

By: Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, Ph.D.

The first time I saw Paul McCartney perform was in 1964. He was, of course, a member of The Beatles. The venue was the Hollywood Bowl. I was sixteen years old. I had won my tickets to the concert from radio station K-MEN in my home
town of San Bernardino, California by correctly answering the tricky question, “what is Paul McCartney’s first name?” As it turns out, his middle name is Paul, and his first name is James. Being a die-hard Beatles fan, I knew the answer of course, and won the coveted prize.

As I recall, the tickets cost $20, and that included round trip transportation on a chartered bus and a boxed chicken dinner to boot. Luckily, I didn’t have to pay anything.

That night at the Bowl was electric. It was filled with anticipation,
screaming fans, and music that had everyone singing, dancing, and cheering. When Paul and his other legendary musical companions stepped out onto the stage on that warm August evening in Southern California, they tore through a set list that was steeped in black American rhythm and blues, folk music, and pop music (a genre that was being transformed by the collaboration of John Lennon and Paul McCartney and their eclectic musical influences).

I vividly remember Paul shouting out Little Richard’s “Long, Tall Sally,” John blasting through a blistering version of Larry Williams’s “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” and Ringo belting out “Boys,” a tune first recorded by the popular girl-group the Shirelles.

I was intrigued to hear music that I knew and loved being celebrated and transformed as it crossed the Atlantic and returned during the British Invasion. Their sound was fresh, it captured the spirit of the time, and it spoke to a global village that was only beginning to emerge.

So much has changed since I saw The Beatles in 1964. Things don’t seem as simple as they once were. All of us have grown older. Paul and Ringo are now the only Beatles who survive. Modern technology has made planet earth a more complex and interconnected place. Sir Paul’s concert at the Golden 1 Center touched on all these things and more.

Throughout the show he shared his genuine love and respect for his departed musical mates by regaling the audience with “insider” stories about John and George and by performing their music magnificently.

There was nostalgia enough for even the most hardcore Beatlemanic, but the concert was not bogged down in it.

McCartney crafted a show that included Beatles songs, selections from the Wings era, and several of his latest offerings. He even put the lyrics of one of his new tunes up on the big screen and encouraged the audience to sing along.

McCartney’s concert incorporated state-of-the-art technology and used it to brilliant and sometimes startling effect, as in “Live and Let Die.” This showstopper, written for the James Bond movie of the same name, was punctuated by ear-popping explosions and amazing pyrotechnics that saw flames shooting up from the stage. I don’t think anyone saw that coming.

In quieter moments, technology infused his music with new meaning. “Lady Madonna,” another Beatles classic, was transformed into an anthem for women’s rights with kaleidoscopic, era-spanning film clips and photos highlighting multi-generational and ethnically diverse women engaged in an array of stereotype-shattering activities.

In a reflective moment, a video montage of birds in flight added a deeper layer of meaning to the folk-influenced “Black Bird,” his moving tribute to embattled civil rights workers in the American South. Sir Paul’s show at the Golden 1 Center was a masterly reminder of how much this music has contributed to the global village of which we all are part.

In 1964 when I was lucky enough to see The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl, I could not have known that this music would stand the test of time, be so loved around the world, and appeal to multiple generations of fans for more than five decades. Back then, I could only hope that it would. I’m glad it has, and I’m fortunate to have had the chance to see Paul one more time.

Shirley Ann Wilson Moore is Professor Emeritus of History from California State University, Sacramento.

She received her Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Berkeley. She specializes in African American history, Western U.S. history, and oral history. Dr. Moore recently published her new book: “Sweet Freedom’s Plains African-American On The Overland Trails 1841-1869."

She has also published: “To Place Our Deeds: The African American Community in Richmond, California, 1910-1963” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), recipient of the City of Richmond Historical Preservation Award, 2000; and African American Women Confront the West, 1600-2000,co-editor, Quintard Taylor (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003), recipient of the American Library Association CHOICE Award, 2004.

Dr. Moore is the author of numerous journal articles and essays including: ”No Cold Weather to Grapple With: African American Expectations of California, 1900-1950,” “Journal of the West,” vol. 44, no. 2, Spring 2005 and “Her Husband Didn’t Have a Word to Say’: Black Women and Blues Clubs in Richmond, California During WWII,” in Monroe and Wilma Billington, eds., “African Americans in the Early Twentieth Century West,” (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2007).

Photo: Lana K. Wilson-Combs,