Jack Ohman

Watching McCartney, and saying yeah, yeah, yeah to history

Paul McCartney, for those of you checking your analog Timex, is 74 years old. For a lot of us, 74 can be an exciting time of life, but it probably would not include performing in front of 20,000 people for three hours in a brand new arena.

Golden 1 is a marvel and deserves many accolades, particularly for its interior design and state-of-the-art innovations. It resembles Michael J. Fox’s silver DeLorean with the crazy doors and the amazing technological interior.

Having McCartney as the kickoff act was inspired, because Sir Paul himself is a back-to-the-future figure. Watching him perform brings back memories stretching back to the Kennedy era, when we were all young or at least young at heart.

When McCartney opened with “A Hard Day’s Night,” it wasn’t difficult to recall that moment in 1964 when the United States went absolutely, completely insane over this man and his three band mates.

A popular parlor game of the time was the question of who’s your favorite Beatle? Paul, the cute one? John, the cerebral wit? George, the homely waif, or Ringo, the fun-loving prankster?

Now there are only two choices. Time has taken John and George, but the cute one and the prankster remain, still performing, still packing them in, and maybe there were some people in their mid-60s who might have stifled a scream or two in Golden 1.

If time has slowed Paul McCartney, he didn’t let anyone see it. He quickly shed a teal blazer and played in a long-sleeved white shirt, bantering with the crowd as he walked them through his catalog.

He correctly observed that when he and his mates were playing newer stuff, the audience’s cellphones remained quiet and dark, creating what he called a black hole on the floor. When he went back to anything prior to 1967, the Pavlovian cellphones lit up.

The crowd skewed older. You could see that there were thousands of conversations between concertgoers hours before the show about what to wear.

“If I was a screaming kid in 1964, and a relatively sedate later-middle-aged person in 2016, how hard do I try here? Do I put on a black leather jacket? Do I go with the black T-shirt with a rock logo and a skinny blazer? Or do I just roll with my everyday attire from Arden Fair mall?”

The arena was a show unto itself. Thirteen bucks for a cocktail? Welcome to the bigs, pal. Illuminated riser on stage? Hold my $13 beer, I got that. Explosive gas torches for “Live and Let Die”? Boom goes the dynamite!

KJ was there, looking a little forlorn with his mother in tow. Vivek Ranadive? Check. The usual Sac suspects from K Street backslapping and working it? Yeah, yeah, yeah.

The thing about watching McCartney was that it was about more than music. It also was just about watching McCartney, in the same way the “Old Chella” Desert Trip Festival in Coachella, which starts this weekend – and where McCartney is on the bill with Neil Young and The Rolling Stones and The Who and Roger Waters – is also in some ways just about bearing witness.

That is Paul McCartney, my friend, right down there. For reals. If JFK, RFK, MLK and Dylan had been onstage there, that would have been just about right.

Happy christening, Golden 1. With a launch like that, you know you should be glad.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee