Good old Paul brought all his tricks to a tiny place in South America
April 15th, 2012
Uruguay is one of the smallest countries in South America. Located between Argentina and Brazil (countries from which it deeply depends from an economic standpoint), the place has always been well recognized in this part of the world for the high level of its people’s education and a remarkable interest for political issues, football matches and arts in general… Considering those characteristics of the country and Paul’s intention for this leg of the South American tour of playing small countries never visited by him or the Beatles in the past (with the exception of Brazil, where “unusual” musical cities such as Florianópolis and Recife were chosen), Uruguay seemed like a perfect place to “let the ball begin rolling” for the tour.
The show was organized in the Centenario, the main football stadium in the capital city (Montevideo) and most of the infrastructure had to be imported from Argentina, Chile and Brazil (much larger rock and roll markets) considering Uruguay’s inexperience in this class of high-level productions. 50,000 tickets were sold out in terms of minutes and the consequent eBay black market led to transactions at up to 10 times the face value of the tickets (mine included). A week before the event the walls of the city were covered by very few posters announcing the show (honestly it was almost unnecessary, from a marketing point of view) but lots of the usual ad from Paul supporting the Vegetarian cause written in Spanish.
Considering that Uruguay has 3 million people population and is estimated that around 5,000 Argentineans and Brazilians arrived in Montevideo just to see the show, around 1.5% of Uruguayan citizens had the chance of attending the concert. Furthermore, Montevideo City’s local government decided to install a big screen in a park where more than 10,000 people are estimated to have seen the last final hour of the show (as agreed with Paul’s producers) and the only two Uruguayan provinces with fiber optic telecommunication technology made the same agreement and opened up football stadiums to allow local people to enjoy the last part of the event for free.
After an unexpected 30-minute waiting (the usual photographs and memorabilia from different eras of Paul’s career shown in the screens on and on, increasing the audience’s expectations), finally, at 9pm, Paul came into the stage with a blue jacket to receive the loudest standing ovation ever witnessed in Uruguay. “Hello Goodbye” was a triumphant opening for the show which was followed by “Junior’s Farm” and “All my Loving” which got all the people up in their feet to which Macca responded with a “Hola Montevideo! Buenas Noches Uruguayos!” (“Hello Montevideo! Good Evening Uruguayans!”) in a very decent Spanish.
After the sound became better and the band succeeded in warming the ambient (the night was particularly cold) with versions of “Jet” and “Got to Get You Into My Life”, Paul took off his coat and made a rendition of “The Night Before” explaining that it was the first time he was playing that Beatles tune in South America. The vibe was definitely fully created in the place and then Paul approached Wings’ “Let Me Roll It” including the wonderful Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” snippet. The “Paperback Writer” version was fabulously played by the band with Paul (as he told the crowd) using the original guitar with which the song was written and played back in the 60s.
The energetic “Back in USSR” was the first song played for the people seeing the show outside the stadium, after which an extremely professional Paul said in Spanish “The people from Maldonado and Rivera are watching us now on the telly… Welcome!”. Then a very-rocky version of “I’ve Got a Feeling” showed both Macca and his band at their very top form. Then Paul greeted again people inside and outside the stadium, this time including the Argentine people who (as he was informed by the production team) had come especially from Buenos Aires, Argentina (including my friend and me… who slept very few hours that weekend and took a three-hour ferry to cross the Río de la Plata river that separates my city Buenos Aires and Montevideo).
After the expected (and extremely moving) tributes to John (“Here Today” at whose end Paul turned back to the screen opening his arms, as trying to emotionally embrace his old buddy) and George (“Something”, as usual with the ukulele opening, backed by wonderful shots of Harrison on screen) our hero even had a moment to mention the Uruguayan football player Luis Suárez (an Uruguayan idol), who is currently the main star figure of Liverpool, the British football team (ironically the rival of Everton, the club supported by Paul since his childhood).
There were two peaks moments in the night.
The first one was a highly inspired performance of “Yesterday” with thousands of cell phones illuminating the stadium, converting the open-air venue in a kind a “sacred ceremony” rather than a merely rock concert played by the #1 Rock and Roll star alive in the planet.
The second one (in my opinion the best) was “My Valentine” including the world premiere on a live stage screen of the recently launched video featuring Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman, a magical combination of a superb love song (dedicated by Paul to his new wife Nancy) and an extremely touching artistic visual content, brilliantly played by two of the cutest and most talented actors of their generation. “You can see that video on Youtube right now… Yeah! We logged it man!” joked Paul after the song.
The night was perfect. The idea of playing never-before visited places was very appropriate to please (at least forty years later) the love and devotion of thousands of Beatles’ lovers who had never even dreamed of seeing Paul performing live in their hometown. When we were getting out of the stadium with my good pal Eduardo, everything was happiness, with smiles and tears all over the place, coming from entire families, couples, friends and people from different generations, exchanging that positive energy that one feels very profoundly, after having passed through a deep emotional moment in life. As these four lads from Liverpool taught the Universe, “In the end, the Love you take is equal to the Love you make”.
(Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Hello, Goodbye (The Beatles)
Junior’s Farm (Wings)
All My Loving (The Beatles)
Got to Get You into My Life (The Beatles)
Sing the Changes (The Fireman)
The Night Before (The Beatles)
Let Me Roll It (Wings) (Comienzo de Foxy Lady)
Paperback Writer (The Beatles)
The Long and Winding Road (The Beatles)
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five (Wings)
Maybe I’m Amazed
I’m Looking Through You (The Beatles)
Two of Us (The Beatles)
Blackbird (The Beatles)
Mrs. Vandebilt (Wings)
Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles)
Something (The Beatles)
Band on the Run (Wings)
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (The Beatles)
Back in the U.S.S.R. (The Beatles)
I’ve Got a Feeling (The Beatles)
A Day in the Life (The Beatles) (including Give Peace a Chance)
Let It Be (The Beatles)
Live and Let Die (Wings)
Hey Jude (The Beatles)
Lady Madonna (The Beatles)
Day Tripper (The Beatles)
Get Back (The Beatles)
Yesterday (The Beatles)
Helter Skelter (The Beatles)
Golden Slumbers (The Beatles)
Carry That Weight (The Beatles)
The End (The Beatles)