Sir Paul mesmerizes Winston-Salem concert goers

Sir Paul mesmerizes Winston-Salem concert goers
May 25
14:02 2022

By David Winship

Sir Paul McCartney, taking Winston-Salem by storm on Saturday night, May 21, shared background from the stage as he, his band, and stage production crew, showcased his decades-long singing career. Performing music from his Beatles, Wings and his solo career, McCartney carried the crowd along with him, engaging them in familiar refrains while showcasing new songs, including “Valentine,” written for his wife Nancy, who is along with him on tour. 

Sharing the background to various songs, McCartney enlightened the audience to many of the messages contained in his songs. Speaking of the history of the song “Blackbird,” McCartney said he wrote the song in 1968 in response to his reaction to the racial tension in America when he became aware of the civil rights struggles occurring in the United States. The lyrics go:

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly

All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see

All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free.

Fans in Winston-Salem, the southeast region and beyond came to Truist Stadium to experience the “Got Back Tour.” Braving forecast storms, more than 30,000 fans converged on the venue, enduring rains that ceased shortly before showtime. With the parking lots opening at 3 p.m. to accommodate early arrivals, some were able to enjoy tailgating beforehand to accommodate the crowded conditions. Those who waited closer to the time gates opened at 6 p.m. encountered traffic and parking difficulties during a rainstorm and some preparations proved inadequate, including limited shuttle services for the handicapped, some of whom ended up parking at the farthest lot available.  

The stage preparations and equipment arrived in a dozen or more tractor-trailer trucks and were erected in the north end of the stadium. Giant screens over a hundred feet high flanked the stage, where the performers were small figures to those sitting in the stands, but the screens provided extraordinary resolution to the show being presented on stage.  

McCartney played his signature bass guitar, six string electric and acoustic guitars, ukulele, piano and keyboard, as he covered the musical history of his 60-plus-year career. The catalog of songs he sang in the 30-song set ranged from the opening “Can’t Buy Me Love” through “Band on the Run,”  ”Let It Be,”  and “Live and Let Die,” ending the regular set with “Hey Jude.” The seven-song encore ended the evening with “No More Lonely Nights.” As the Bond-film theme “Live and Let Die” progressed, the stage erupted with pyrotechnics from in front of the stage, in front of the big screens, and fireworks from behind the stage, to the crowds’ delight.

The 2 hour and 45-minute concert provided many opportunities for fan interactions, through sing-alongs like “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” crowd solos. Many in the crowd held aloft cell-phone flashlights, replacing the lighters of the fans’ younger days. Beatles T-shirts were seen scattered through the multi-generational crowd, and grandparents with graying and lost hair sharing their heritage and enthusiasm with children and grandchildren. McCartney referred to the well-known songs as “old people songs,” acknowledging his audience’s run with him on his long and winding road.

Sir Paul appeared relaxed and enthusiastic during his return to the stage after the two-year hiatus, belying his nearly 80 years. For Beatles’ fans in general, and Sir Paul fans in particular, it was a magical evening that will long be remembered.


David Winship is music educator with a particular interest in heritage music of the 20th century, including folk, blues and rock and roll. He hosts a weekly radio show featuring vintage vinyl records at, on the campus of Emory and Henry College in Emory, Virginia. A resident of Bristol, Tennessee, he is a member of Winston-Salem Writers.

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