McCartney draws fans by the thousands and normally plays in large stadiums and arenas. It’s rare for him to do a more intimate performance like this one, so needless to say it was a pretty big deal to get someone of his stature to do what he did.
The Tobin Center’s acoustics are simply incredible. Throughout the evening, I kept closing my eyes, just focused on listening and tuning in.
McCartney, along with fellow team members Brian Ray, Rusty Anderson, Abe Laboriel, Jr., and Wix Wickens, played for an audience of about 1,750 people, delivering an incredible set list of 30 songs that spanned more than four decades of his work, from the early Beatles years to the many chapters of his solo career after the Beatles broke up in 1970.
It was the acoustic songs, including “And I Love Her,” “We Can Work it Out,” “Yesterday,” “Blackbird,” and “Something” that demonstrated the acoustical qualities of the Tobin.
Seated in the upper balcony, I could hear the unique tone and resonance of the acoustic guitars that Paul, Brian and Rusty played. During “And I Love Her,” you could not only hear the distinct fingering of the guitars, you could hear drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr. playing the bongos, just as if Ringo were sitting right in front of you during the “Hard Day’s Night” movie.
When it came to the rock and roll segments of the concert, Team McCartney shined through. Sure it was loud, but you did not get the effects of the reverberation and slight sound delays that you would hear in a traditional stadium or arena show.
“Live and Let Die,” “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” and the grand finale when they played, “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “The End,” were the rock and roll highlights of the evening. During “Live and Let Die,” there were pyrotechnics, laser lights and an incredible burst of energy that emanated from the band out into the audience on its feet.
San Antonio acoustic and classical guitarist and teacher George Gaytan was at the show.
“The acoustic numbers were so clear, the piano rich, overall the Tobin’s acoustics were top rate,” Gaytan said. “It was like we were like hearing a live show with headphones on. As a musician, I could even single (out) each instrument at times, which is rare at most venues.”
During the concert, I thought about my Dad. Until his death in 1998, he traveled the world to experience classical music in many of the great concert halls. He had a special knack for memorizing the acoustical qualities of the venues he visited.
We could sit in his living room, put on an album, and he could tell you where the recording took place. He knew the sonic signatures and unique sounds of Avery Fisher Hall in New York, Severance Hall in Cleveland, Orchestra Hall in Chicago, and Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco.
On my way home, I thought about what I had just experienced, and the “sonic imprint” that tonight’s concert has embedded into the walls of The Tobin.
Even McCartney paused on more than one occasion to remark on the beauty and intimacy of the Tobin Center. At one point he said the surroundings made him want to recite Shakespeare and then proceeded to do just that to the delight of the crowd.
As San Antonio’s Tobin Center begins to host major artists, showcase the San Antonio Symphony, Ballet San Antonio, Opera San Antonio, more and more people in this city and outside the city will gain an appreciation of this destination performing arts hall. For many of us, however, it will be hard to exceed the magic of Paul McCartney and team live at the Tobin.
*Featured/top image: Paul McCartney and his band play “Live and Let Die” at the Tobin Center. Photo by Alan Weinkrantz.
This story was originally published on Thursday, Oct. 2.