November 13th, 2010
Last Sunday was a memorable day. Paul McCartney performed for more than 50.000 people at Beira-Rio Stadium, in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
(Just by curiosity: Beira-Rio will be one of the stadium hosting the FIFA World Cup of 2014. It also happens to be the stadium of my team: Internacional Football Club.)
My fan pilgrimage started on the morning of November the 6th, when Paul McCartney would arrive in POA, according to a press release, that also said he would stay at the Sheraton. I woke up early, tunned the TV on a local channel for news, and soon had my mother to call saying that Paul had not arrived yet since the airport was closed due to fog. I decided that I would not go to the airport to wait for him since I had no details about the flight, arrival time, or wheter the airport would still be closed when I arrived there and I could well have missed Paul. Then I decided to do some internet research about Paul McCartney’s flight. By complete chance I stumbled upon a link that transmits the radio of POA’s air traffic control tower – live via internet broadcast. I knew from local TV that Paul had not arrived at the Sheraton yet. So I stayed one hour and a half listening to flight control. During 90 minutes I heard many TAM and GOL domestic flights landing; eventually one flight from Argentina and its Spanish speaker crew. Then suddenly a pilot contacted flight control speaking clear british English. That was Paul McCartney’s jet approaching POA. He flies a private jet prefix HB-INJ: a Bombardier BD-700-1A10 Global Express. After hearing that I grabbed my handbag and ran to the Sheraton, which is 10 minutes by car from my place. Arriving there I found the hotel entrance already obstructed with a protection grid and crowded with fans. I told the news out loud about how I heard his plane approaching on flight control radio, and that he should land soon. After some 25 minutes the jet had landed. Apparently Paul McCartney is immune to customs, because he arrived at the hotel not long after his plane landed. He entered through the back door and waved down at us (that was around 11:00 – 11:30 a.m.) We (fans) were on guard at the Sheraton’s door all day in the hope that Paul would come down for autographs and photos, or just to wave back at us and say hello. There were people from Uruguay and Argentina there. Many brought gifts to Paul. Others came dressed with Beatles costumes and brought their guitars and harmonica, and played Paul and Beatles’ songs all day long while the crowd sang with them. I can tell you that even if Paul McCartney were not there it would have been an awesome fans gathering. It was very fun for sure. Finally at 8 p.m. Paul McCartney and band left for a sound check. He stood up high up the black SUV he was in and waved back at all of us. Everyone screamed and cried like crazy little beatlemaniac teenagers from the 60′s – even big old dudes!
The concert happened the next day, starting at 9 p.m. The stadium gates opened at 5:30 p.m. I was privileged enough to get a ticket for the Premium Lawn – that would be the area in the very front of the stage. Yet I wanted to warrant my place in the VERY very front, so I went to the waiting line at 2 p.m. There I waited and waited under the hot sun for 3 and a half hours. I made friends with the people behind me in line. The moment the gates opened was just like watching old black and white Beatles films again: everyone ran and ran like crazy little girls to get the spots in front of the stage. I got mine. I met with other friends when I got there, unintentionally (we didn’t schedule an appointment or anything). We stood in front of a crazy middle age man who took his teenage son to the concert with him. The man carried magazines with Paul McCartney’s lyrics and posters, and he insisted in yelling “Mister Paul!” (you know, when the correct would be “Sir Paul”) – we just laughed
I’m not sure if there even can be anything as “bad Paul McCartney concert”, so I think it was all beyond perfect. Paul spoke lots of portuguese with us and played along with the crowd a lot. The opened the concert with “Venus and Mars” and to finished with the traditional ending sequence: “Helter Skelter”, “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “The End”. There are some fireworks stage effects during the performance of “Live and Let Die”, and I can tell you that being in front of the stage when that happens in kind of scary, because things explode and the fire heats everything nearby. When he performs “Blackbird” we have a globe descending from the top of the stage, with the surface of the moon projected. That was very beautiful. Next he performs “Here Today” and another globe descends to accompany the moon, now with a projection of the planet earth in it. Before performing “My Love” Paul always says “This is a song I wrote for Linda (…)”. The crowd started to shout “Linda” in a choir and he really seemed to like that.
Setlist: Venus and Mars, Jet, All My Loving, Drive My Car, Letting Go, Highway, The Long and Winding Road, Let Me Roll It, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five, Let’em in, I have Just Seen a Face, And I love Her, Blackbird, Here Today, Mrs Vanderbilt, Dance Tonight, Eleanor Rigby, Something, Ram On, Sing The Changes, Obladi-Oblada, Back in the USSR, I’ve got a Feeling, Paperback Writer, A Day in the Life, Give Peace a Chance, Live and Let Die, Let it Be, Day Tripper, Lady Madonna, Get Back, Yesterday, Helter Skelter, Sgt. Peppers and The End.