Paul McCartney at SoFi Stadium  

Larson Sutton on May 19, 2022
Paul McCartney at SoFi Stadium  

photo by Steve Rood


In the pre-pandemic summer of 2019, Paul McCartney closed his Freshen Up tour, and a sold-out finale at L.A.’s Dodger Stadium, with an ending only Hollywood could’ve dreamed.  At the conclusion of a nearly three-hour set, McCartney welcomed his old mate and fellow Beatle, drummer Ringo Starr, as well as Starr’s brother-in-law, Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh, for a spectacular encore, stunning the 50,000 filling up Chavez Ravine.  Had it been the last appearance by Sir Paul in the City of Angels, it would’ve surprised no one.

Cut to three years later, and as his current Got Back tour promises, Macca was back.  This time he took on SoFi- Inglewood’s massive NFL stadium- for another sold-out appearance in Southern California and another ending to write.  It started with the ready-set-go opener of The Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love” and wrapped, again, with “The End.”  In between: over 150 minutes of bountiful, uplifting, incomparable McCartney magic. 

The trick these days for Macca is convincing the world the perpetually baby-faced Beatle can’t possibly be on the doorstep of octogenarian status; and he’s doing it swimmingly.  Despite sporting a five-o’clock shadow, Sir Paul, resplendent in double-breasted navy blue, looked quite comfortable as the gracefully aging rocker.  He started on bass- his forever-iconic Hofner violin model- grooving melodically through Wings’ “Junior’s Farm” and “Letting Go,” with the latter featuring a shining solo from guitarist Brian Ray.  He and his exceptional and longtime four-piece band then welcomed a trio of horns, dazzling on The Beatles nugget, “Got To Get You Into My Life,” before spinning decades ahead to “Come On To Me,” from his 2018 LP, Egypt Station

For “Let Me Roll It,” he turned up the wattage with stinging guitar. Then to piano for “Let Them In,” and on a tribute to his wife, Nancy, in attendance, with “My Valentine.”  He shifted to a scaled-back acoustic solo set, elevated on a gloriously lit stage, for bittersweet and bare takes of “Blackbird” and “Here Today;” each with an accompanying backstory; of ‘60s civil unrest in the U.S. and honoring his collaborator and friend, John Lennon, respectively.

All the hallmarks of a thrilling McCartney concert were there: the seeming ease of his multi-instrumental talent; the comforting recollections of yesteryear; the tributes to his fellow Beatles and friends; the relentless, furious energy and feigned palpitations following the flaming pyro of “Live and Let Die.”  This time, though, there was the conspicuous absence of “Yesterday” and any songs from his acclaimed McCartney III album released in late 2020. 

Still, and likely most importantly to many, was the voice.  McCartney’s has taken on a noticeable vulnerability, and a weathered vibrato that now empathizes with the emotion of a lyric as much as it expresses it musically.  He shifts to lower octaves at times, yet still hits the screaming peaks, still with a vocal like shards of glass, cutting deep and powerfully on those tingling moments of “Hey Jude” or “I’ve Got a Feeling,” the latter a virtual duet with Lennon via a Peter Jackson-spliced video clip. 

Before the final encore of classics, McCartney and his ensemble returned waving several flags: one for Pride; for California; and the national flags of the U.S., the U.K., and Ukraine.  McCartney held aloft the Ukrainian flag, and, contrary to 2019, did not include “Back in The U.S.S.R.” in tonight’s set.  Times on earth have changed, in ways few could imagine, since McCartney exited Dodger Stadium on that mid-summer night in 2019.  Yet, here he was, on the cusp of his 80th birthday, getting back to what he does so well, singing and playing over 35 songs, and suggesting explicitly, after the last notes of “The End” resolved into bursts of confetti, that he would see us all again.  Who in SoFi would bet against it?  L.A., as the saying goes, always loves a good sequel.