City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Despite rain, McCartney rocks Piedmont Park

By Bo Emerson

A little rain didn’t dampen the spirits of a cross-generational crowd of 40,000 who came to Piedmont Park Saturday to sing old Beatles songs with an old Beatle.

Sir Paul McCartney, 67, put on an enthusiastic two-and-a-half hour show, his voice and energy undimmed by time. Plenty of parents (and grandparents) in the audience danced with little ones on their shoulders, and time-tripped back to when their own hearts went “boom” when they saw a certain someone standing there.

But McCartney’s appeal extended to younger audiences as well. Celia Way, 24, of Charlotte sported a tattoo between her shoulder blades of the words to the third encore, “The End,” from “Abbey Road,”: “And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

“It sort of fit where I was at the time,” she says, of getting the inking last March. McCartney’s music, she says, is up there with Kings of Leon, Led Zeppelin and just a shade below Tom Petty.

Flanked by 50-foot-tall video screens, McCartney and his young band kicked off the show at 8:40 under glowering skies with “Drive My Car,” Macca’s voice as blues-rootsy as it was in 1965.

After the Wings-era tune “Jet” McCartney switched his trademark Hofner bass for a Finster-esque electric guitar and segued from “Let Me Roll It” into a “Foxy Lady” coda.

“I had to do that,” he said with a grin. “Tonight’s the 40th anniversary of Woodstock and I had to do a little Jimi there.”

The show included newer material from his work under the pseudonym The Fireman including “Highway,” but no fan of the Beatles music went away from Saturday’s show unsatisfied.

Some of the pleasures involved hearing songs that are never played live, including a version of “A Day the Life” and the “Sgt. Peppers” reprise, sandwiched with the triple-guitar battle in “The End.” “Day-Tripper” and “Got to Get You into My Life” were both thunderous.

As McCartney switched to acoustic guitar for a solo version of “Blackbird” and a full-band treatment of “Eleanor Rigby” (with synthesized violins) the skies opened up.

But spirits stayed high, no one sat down, and the rain dwindled by the time of the pyrotechnics of “Live and Let Die.”

The Script, a band from Dublin, Ireland, ably opened the show.

McCartney played a set list almost identical to those earlier on the tour, and included tributes to his colleagues John Lennon and George Harrison (a version of “Something” played on ukulele) and his late wife Linda McCartney that are set pieces within the show.

The concert, a benefit for the Piedmont Park Conservancy, closed down 10th street and took over most of the park, and the massive column of concert-goers marching toward the Midtown MARTA station at the end of the evening indicated that many took the “green” part of the “Green Concert” to heart. (The trash left behind did not reinforce that impression.)

Many Midtown residents threw listening parties on their own decks and patios, enjoying the music from the comfort of home.

“We’re just chilling in our front yard,” said Patrick Allos, who sipped a beer in the late afternoon sun and waited for the music to begin, situated advantageously on Monroe Drive with his friend Alan Kippeny. “We’ve got some rib-eyes coming later.”

90 comments Add your comment

Ken Gray

August 16th, 2009
10:31 am

The last line in the AJC article is kinda funny if it wasn’t so sad as Sir Paul is against eating meat for ethical and environmental reasons.

The Boss

August 16th, 2009
10:56 am

“McCartney’s music is up there witb The Kings of Leon”…..

More prooof – as if we needed any – those under 40 know absolutely nothing about music.


August 16th, 2009
11:00 am

Seriously………….. “a shade below Tom Petty.”

Roz Verrill

August 16th, 2009
11:03 am

The ‘old’ Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney, should have been referred to as a musician riveled by no other or at best “classy,legendary,extraordinaire,…etc” .
I am afraid Bo should’ve been assigned to report the Braves game.
Two more references to age with the statement ‘his young band’ and ‘voice was a bluesy as it was in 1965′. The focus of the concert was enjoyment of music, peace, and love delivered through timeless songs and a timeless phenomenal gentlemen.
Get Back, Loretta!


August 16th, 2009
11:09 am

Than you for a nice article. I appreciate that you were writing it at 2:40 this morning. I also found myself up late last night reflecting on what a great show I had just seen. I could not believe how giving Paul was, sharing very personal stories and just leaving it all out on the stage. You might think that someone who is an MBE and a living legend beyond imagination would be different. I am really touched by what he gave us.

Kirsten Hughes

August 16th, 2009
11:14 am

Outstanding show!!! Greatest musician, great event, great audience (except the guy who passed out on the lawn in front of us – get real man), great amounts of trash left behind! Come on people – pick up your trash; however, there should have been more trash receptacles available. We carried our trash from the middle of the lawn to the exit before finding a can. Overall an incredible evening and the music was magical!


August 16th, 2009
11:17 am

150-plus minutes of music, 30-plus songs, a 67-year-old playing with the energy of a 23-year-old. I’ve been to maybe 200 concerts. Undoubtably a top three.
Kings of Leon? Are they playing Smiths Olde Bar or something?

Dino Vlachos

August 16th, 2009
11:21 am

Great concert by Mccartney (as expected) and pathetic reporting by the AJC (as expected). I thoroughly agree with Ken Gray’s observation about Emerson last sentence. Mccartney is a avid vegetarian for compassionate and environmental reasons. A concept both unknown and foreign to Emerson. Please go to if you need more proof.


August 16th, 2009
11:22 am

What’s sad is that as a 25-year old, I feel it necessary to apologize for both the writer and the young woman from Charlotte quoted in this story. This piece does not do McCartney justice – his voice has never struck me as truly bluesy, you could find at least a dozen better ways to describe his band than as “young” (could we comment on the hilarious facial expressions of the Samoan-looking drummer, perhaps?), and could we please do a better job illustrating the feel and emotion pouring from the show? As for the young girl’s quote, it’s embarrassing to have someone dare compare McCartney with a band whose hit is “Sex on Fire”.


August 16th, 2009
11:27 am

Atlantans are so pathetic.

But spirits stayed high, no one sat down,

Who would sit down at a Paul McCartney concert?! Why would that even be a thought?

People leaving trash behind… that’s terrible.

I unfortunately didn’t go but part of me is kind of glad. I mean, only 40,000 people? Can’t we do better than that?

I know there was a lot going on yesterday but that’s still a little low. What could possibly get this city out in full force with their full attention?

College football, I suppose.


August 16th, 2009
11:30 am

Yeah, his band is not young.

I mean, the drummer is probably mid-30’s but that’s about as young as it gets. His ryhthm guitarist is at least 50 in spite of the bleach blond hair.

I mean, they’re a great band. Just not young.

Annette Woodward

August 16th, 2009
11:35 am

I agree with Roz and Jerry. Last night I experienced a living legend. I do not like the way Bo referred to him as an old Beatle. I did not see an old Beatle I saw Sir Paul McCartney, who was once a member of a group called the Beatles. Sir Paul is still making music and guess what Bo people are buying it.


August 16th, 2009
11:37 am

Wow!! Paul,you guys really rocked the park!!! I cannot believe I saw a Beatles concert (okay, minus John, Ringo and George) in 2009…Waaaaaaaay cool! The rain made it almost magical, very Woodstock. Come back soon Paul…Atlanta loves you.

Roz Verrill

August 16th, 2009
11:37 am

Mitchell -personally, I think they should only allowed 30,000. It was like being in a herd. Many fights and rude behavior. The conservancy is not able to handle the masses that were there. ‘
If there is another Macca concert, treat yourself and get there at 2pm.
~Everybody’s Gonna Dance Tonight~


August 16th, 2009
11:46 am

Mitchell: You criticize Atlantans for not turning out in higher numbers for the show, yet you didn’t go yourself? Strange logic, dude. Face it: you didn’t miss a concert last night. You missed an historic event. Your loss.


August 16th, 2009
11:55 am

I am still pinching myself Paul is the greatest ever and always and I was there. Its was magic, memories and a time of perfect harmony. The man has lost nothin since the beginning. The drive and wait was long to get up close, the heat was bad the restroom and garbage situation should have been better handled by the city. The rain was perfect and being close enough to scream” I love you Paul “and” Thank you” was priceless something I have wanted to say since 1970

Joe S.

August 16th, 2009
12:00 pm

What an incredible show!! Paul was not holding back, and hitting all the highs like guys 30 years younger wish they could. He was more than impressive, he was damned impressive. Great turnout from Atlanta, and make no mistake it wasn’t a summer shower they were standing through – it was an ominous lightning-fueled torrential downpour for at least 20 minutes. And still, hardly anyone left.
Great, great band. Very tight, all the tones locked in.
That, folks, is how you do a show.


August 16th, 2009
12:12 pm

I will forever be in awe of Sir Paul, for the life he has led, the values he stands for, the music he continues to create,but most of all for the fact that he is a constant in my life. There will never be a time when he will disappoint me. Last night proved that point…he is still the young man that captured my admiration so many years ago. From our vantage point sitting on the hill, all of those around us felt the same. I will never forget the concert and how priviledged I was to be there.

30 +

August 16th, 2009
12:13 pm

1/ This was a green concert, the trash was terrible. Rothbury festival in Meechigan had 70K+ people and less trash. Way to go atlanta.

2/ 40+ people need to know there is a lot of young musical talent. They might not have paid their “dues” as of yet, but to comment young folks don’t know music… come on.. Stop being small minded.

3/ Yes. Personal preference, in the Beatles shade above, Sir Paul, Shade below. Watch Running down a Dream then call me.


August 16th, 2009
12:16 pm

Enter your comments here


August 16th, 2009
12:17 pm

What a great show! Brought back lots of memories. I just wish the AJC would have assigned a better writer. What an awful review! ……….and Mitchell, if you can’t make it to the show, please don’t complain the “only 40,000″ that came out. Kinda tacky, dude.


August 16th, 2009
12:20 pm

typo correction – left out “about” before the “only 40,000″

Lontime Fan

August 16th, 2009
12:45 pm

Wow! What a concert! I’ve been to quite a few in my lifetime and Sir Paul’s is in the top 5! I loved the multigenerational aspect and a high point of the evening for me was two little girls (around 10) singing and dancing to the music. I will always remember singing “Hey Jude” (and many other songs) along with Paul.

I too was distressed at the garbage being left behind by others…perhaps biodegradable trash bags given out to the audience to gather their trash where they were partying? It seemed people just didn’t want to bother to pick up the multitudes of beer cans, water bottles, and food containers littering their own little area.

Great concert, total party atmosphere, so glad I was there!


August 16th, 2009
12:52 pm

The Boss – c’mon. a girl from charlotte that is 24 with a back-tat does very little to represent “under-40″….

Sir Paul put on quite a show.

Oh yeah – I’m 30 and loved it.


August 16th, 2009
12:56 pm

I am just glad Paul is keeping the Beatles music still alive.
Some of the Wings stuff is pretty good as well.
The Beatles are a cornerstone for rock music now and the next 100 or more years, probably forever. Lucky are those who were there
last night.

Brian O

August 16th, 2009
1:02 pm

How in the world does Paul not give a shout out to Les Paul who passed away on Thursday? He played two of his guitars last nigh – one of them was the ‘Finster-esque’ one referenced by the writer (not sure how many of your readers get that reference – by the way, if you are going to use Finster-esque – please add that it was a Les Paul) Am I the only one who noticed?


August 16th, 2009
1:08 pm

Last night was surely a magnificent evening of musical history…on the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, complete with an evening shower, the 40,000 that chose to make the pilgrimage were treated to as great a rock and roll performance ever given. Sir Paul McCartney triumphed with over 2 1/2hrs of musical history…tightly performed on a state of the art stage with a crowd that spanned several generations…everyone rocking and swaying for the entire show. Paul is without a doubt the quintessential muscian of our time and it was truly an honor and a privilege to share a night in the park with him. Thank you Paul, for humbly showing us all what it means to be passionate and do what you love. Please ‘Get Back’ to Atlanta.


August 16th, 2009
1:10 pm

The fact that during a 20 minute torrential downpour, not a single person in the area I was in left or even complained would indicate to me that it was a great concert. I admit that I am a Beatles aficionado, but at 67 years of age, Sir Paul played and sang beautifully. It was also interesting to note that the crowd was a mix of young and old. Paul McCartney is one of the best musicians/composers of the 20th and 21st centuries.


August 16th, 2009
1:17 pm

Hey, 30+, you say “40+ people need to know there is a lot of young musical talent,” and then you go on to compare Sir Paul with Tom Petty. Tom Petty is 59 years old. Hardly a “young musical talent.” I like Tom Petty also, but he ain’t no Paul McCartney. Also, traveling from Charlotte, I am embarrassed by the other Charlottean’s comment. Wow….Kings Of Leon….yeah. Last night was my third McCartney concert, my first concert from a wheelchair (car accident). Wish I could have been with you guys on the grass in front of the stage.


August 16th, 2009
1:20 pm

Nope, I noticed that too, Brian.

I was there last night and it was fantastic! The rain even made it more memorable somehow and did give us a little bit more of a Woodstock feel. Quite a wonderful experience…. We set out at 3:30p to get to the park and didn’t get home (still soaking wet) until 12:30a…I wouldn’t do that for just anyone!

Thanks a lot, Paul!


August 16th, 2009
1:21 pm

McCartney’s concert goes right to my Top Three list — and I’ve been going to rock concerts since the 60’s. How fortuitous that this historic Atlanta event fell right on the 20th anniversary of the Piedmont Park Conservancy’s formation, the 40th of Woodstock (which I attended; last night’s rainstorm gave me an instant and welcome flashback); and the 43rd of the Beatles’ Shea Stadium performance. And how sad that the AJC’s crack reporter failed to note any of these historical music events in his “review”. Funny, the “old Beatle” didn’t forget to mention them in his remarks. Can I have Emerson’s job?

“Old Beatle” indeed. Will any of the Kings of Leon be drawing 40,000 + to a concert when they’re 67 years old? Will generations be singing along with them while they play? Kinda doubt it.

Other things Emerson should have reported on: The abysmal pre-concert crowd admissions handling by Ticketmaster and Peter Conlon Presents; the poor venue crowd design by Conlon (no pathways for security or emergency vehicles); and The Conservancy’s failure to have anyone address the audence about its work during the concert, or encourage patrons to pick up and desposit their trash at the end. Hello, Green Concert?

Disclosure: I am a Conservancy member. I plan to address my concerns in writing with suggestions for improvement to all of the above organizations and encourage other attendees to do the same.


August 16th, 2009
1:23 pm

His tribute to George Harrison nearly had me in tears. I think it is wonderful(and quite a commentary about the ordinary, generic rock music on our radio stations today) that so many younger people embrace the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and others from the 60’s and 70’s. I don’t think people 30 or 40 years from now will be getting teary eyed and nostalgic over an aging Brittany Spears or Kings of Leon concert. If they are still around of course.

Glenda O

August 16th, 2009
1:35 pm

From the minute Sir Paul McCartney came on stage to start the concert with “Drive My Car” to the fitting end of “The End,” the show was beyond amazing….beyond awesome, well like the lyric from “I Saw Her Standing There,” it was “way beyond compare!!” Even the rain added its Woodstock-esque effects to make the evening truly magical. It was an historic event at which I was privileged to be there. It was an event of a lifetime.


August 16th, 2009
1:40 pm

To Becky and Brian re Sir Paul’s failure to note Les Paul’s passing: yeah, I noticed that too. Strange and inexplicable, especially given their similar names. Mr. Paul’s musical genius, inventions and designs made music as we know it today possible — especially that of rock musicians.


August 16th, 2009
1:42 pm

Macca paved the way for talents like the great Tom Petty, so give the man his due. He was there in the beggining. I love them both and I’ve seen the film, Running Down A Dream. (Great film btw, see it if you can). I would stand in line to see either artist. They are the best of the best. However, to the person comparing Paul McCartney to Kings of Leon… Are you kidding me? PAUL ROCKS!


August 16th, 2009
1:55 pm

I have to echo bajeha’s comments. While this was a great show, there was a significant logistical failure. I was promised early entry for my presale ticket, but couldn’t find a single conservancy volunteer or APD office who even knew what I was talking about. Navigating the crowd was extraordinarily difficult, even for a large festival setting as this, due to the lack of any organizaion. I fully expected a short presentation or video before Macca’s performance related to the conservancy and stressing the “Green” aspect of the performance.

Giving people a little bit of the benefit of the doubt on the garbage–it had poured and everything was mudcaked and soaked, but yeah, it made me a little embarassed. I also was surprised by no reference to Les Paul, given that Macca used at least 2 and other than the Hofner, there were only Gibsons to be seen on stage.

Having said all that, I’m glad I was there. My wife and kids loved the show, and the rain didn’t get us down.

5 stars to Macca, 2.5 to ATL, 3 to the Conservancy.


August 16th, 2009
1:56 pm

This was the greatest show I have ever witnessed. It was like unicorns and rainbows floating on the wings of tiny gold covered and diamond encrusted angels. Thank you so much Sir Paul. You are a saint and a sage. Like Mother Teresa and the Pope rolled into one to form a kind green, vegetarian giant with blue eyes and probably x-ray vision who can sing such sweet melodies. I love you so much. Anyone who disagrees is a hater. Please stop the negativity.


August 16th, 2009
2:10 pm

It was the concert that I have dreamed of for forty-five years. I was surrounded by people who were as overwhelmed by Sir Paul’s respect for the audience and his truly everlasting talent. Our son gave us the tickets because he knew that it was a dream of ours to see Paul McCartney in person. We happened to sit in front of a couple who had driven from Illinois to see the concert. We ended up sharing a blanket to sit and then to cover up briefly from the rain. She was just like me….totally awestruck. We screamed just as if we were those 13 year-old girls watching Ed Sullivan on TV. Both of our parents thought we had lost our minds back then. I have seen many concerts, but not one as heartwarming and professional as this. It was our first trip to Piedmont Park and I applaud the staff there for the way in which we were treated and how quickly we entered and left the facility. To my Illinois friend, Sandy we did it! A dream come true for a couple of old broads! And, yes, your husband does look like “Paul”!


August 16th, 2009
2:14 pm

Paul McCartney is a living legend. A wonderful talented living legend. It was a magical concert. Thank you, Sir Paul.

(The AJC should have sent someone else to cover the concert. Poor Bo Emerson was not a good choice. Can’t believe he would finish his “article” with a meat-eating reference!!!!!!! Sir Paul is a vegetarian!!!!!!..And if he said “old” one more time… ahhhhh!!!!)


August 16th, 2009
2:40 pm

I was truly mesmerized. I was enthralled. I was goose-pimpled before the rain even started. How could anyone have ANYTHING negative to say about the concert? I would have gone to this concert to see the most amazing stage set up and pyrotechnics set to Live and Let Die! (Did you actually hear the ROAR of those four solid fuel rocket engines at the front of the stage go off twice!!!!? “You People” have no idea how lucky we were to have a National Treasure of the UK and in our presence in this little southern backwater. The only disappoint is that local resident and fellow Englander Elton John did not drag his bloated ass on stage to do a number with Paul like Billy Joel had the class to do in the Big Apple at Citi Field last month. Elton is the beneficiary of McCartney’s trailblazing artistry and its the least he could do…he owed that much to McCartney and Atlanta. Otherwise…..I’m still VerKlempt over the whole the entire experience. Paul became the No. 1 concert to now No. 2 Carly Simon concert in Chastain a decade ago.


August 16th, 2009
2:52 pm

As a 37 year old, I grew up listening to The Beatles because I had older siblings. The Beatles will carry on forever because they are the rock and roll band that started it all. For me, last night was magical and amazing to see a legend. What else would you expect from the AJC? Last night, their first article was about the rain and counterfeit tickets. Oooh! 10 counterfeit tickets and that was the headline. Although the 1960’s was a tumultuous era and The Beatles had their own rocky relationships with each other, they were about the hopes and dreams of the world working towards one goal: peace, love and happiness. And, Sir Paul’s concert is representative of that goal. From the opening riff of Drive My Car to the whimsical A Day in the Life, it was an emotionally charged show. One could only imagine being transported back to the Cavern Club listening to The Beatles when they started making their way through the universe.


August 16th, 2009
2:55 pm

I guess because I live in the woods in a small village on the gulg coast of Alabama, I have been left behind. Who is The Kings of Leon?


August 16th, 2009
3:28 pm

We loved the concert!! Sir Paul was awesome and the number of huge hits that he played really was amazing! One major complaint: blanket politics. We sat close to the stage on a hill that was, of course, quite crowded. As early ticket holders we had expected to get in at 4pm instead of 5pm, but they did away with that plan (no complaint on that issue here). What we found incredibly frustrating was the attempts by all of our neighbors to cover vast areas with their blankets (even if there were only two concert goers on said blanket) and then complain when other audience members even stepped on the corner of their blanket in an attempt to find a spot of their own. Open seating means open seating, and it also means you need to be more flexible than you might be if you had a ticket with an assigned seat. Once the concert started ppl seemed to loosen up, but come on Atlantans, show a little respect for your neighbors and be ready to crowd in for a great show, rather than act like it’s your right to demand an acre of space for you and your spouse … poor form!


August 16th, 2009
3:29 pm

Sir Paul was awesome, the energy and excitement was so thrilling. as mentioned by another he is classy, legendary, extraordianaire. It was a privilege for the city of Atlanta and Piedmont Park to have Paul McCartney decide that our park would benefit from his charitable generosity. thank you Sir Paul for most memorable concert. We danced and sang along all night!! the rain didn’t stop the fun, my neighbors even offered a blanket to my friends to cover our heads during the rain.


August 16th, 2009
3:33 pm

I have seen Paul many times…even saw (but couldn’t hear) the Beatles at Shea Stadium 45 years ago last night (although I didn’t realize it until Paul mentioned it. We were surrounded by people of all ages who had never seen him before. We told them they could expect a superb show. They were not disappointed. He was awesome. I didn’t even mind the rain. I am, however disappointed in the review by ATC. I;m not sure he was even there to see and hear the magic of the evening. I sang every song along with him and it truly was a magical evening…..definitely worth the drive from Birmingham, AL. Long live Paul and the musical magic he makes. I loved the tributes to Johnm George, Kinda, and Jimi.. Last night was perfect and I want to thank my children for giving me the tickets as a birthday present. Thank you, Paul for an evening my wife and I will never forget….and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make…..

Roz Verrill

August 16th, 2009
3:34 pm

It is great to see people responding to this magical concert and to know that apparently there we truly a shared extraordinary moment in time with those we don’t know.
Next time the venue should be more secure with less people.


August 16th, 2009
3:45 pm

sorry for the typos……the tributes to John, George, Linda, and Jimi…..

Northern Songs LTD

August 16th, 2009
3:57 pm

A tour de force for Macca — can you believe he sang ‘I’m Down’ in the same key as the Shea stadium show all those years ago — , but a poor performance by the organizers. I second the earlier remarks by ‘bejahe’ and ‘PJ’.


August 16th, 2009
3:59 pm

Must say I was disappointed in your review. An old Beatle singing old Beatles songs. That’s your opening ?really?
Paul rocked last night and I must assume that you really don’t care for the Beatles or Paul.
I would also venture that the crowd was much much larger than 40,000. Did you count the ones listening outside the main gate. The ones on the hill towards the Botanical gardens?
Sorry but your review made his concert sound dull and ordinary -it was anything but!

Heather J.

August 16th, 2009
4:00 pm

Sir Paul put on one HECK of a show! I was amazed by his energy, his talent, and by his charisma! Aside from the grumpy man behind us, who yelled at everyone who dared to touch his blanket, the crowd was fun, friendly, and enthusiastic! The downpour only added to the magic of the show! I loved all of the tributes he made to John and George, and how he hopped from one instrument to the next without even flinching! My husband and I abandoned our make-shift blanket/umbrella and danced in the pouring rain as fireworks exploded over the stage during “Live and Let Die.” What a magical night!!

Sir Paul is welcome in Atlanta ANYtime!