In a 1980 interview with Tim Rice, ahead of the release of his second self-titled album, Sir James Paul McCartney said, "I don't really feel like a lyricist, but at certain times, I've done some good words. I feel easier with music — it's just the way it's been. I can have a song before I have a set of words."
Forty-two years later, he'd probably say the same thing. On Wednesday, May 25, McCartney heads to South Florida to bring his Got Back Tour to Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood.
As the Miami Herald's Madeleine Marr notes, the 79-year-old British pop icon could sell out an event in record time. Yet, Hard Rock Live's mere 7,000 seats make for a comparatively intimate setting for McCartney, landing somewhere between Madison Square Garden and Liverpool's Cavern Club.
"I said at the end of the last tour that I'd see you next time," McCartney tweeted when he announced his North American tour in February. "I said I was going to get back to you. Well, I got back!"
The tour sees McCartney traversing the U.S. with two stops in Florida. It kicked off last week in Spokane, Washington, and wraps up in June at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. (At this time of writing, a handful of high-priced tickets are available for the South Florida show, mostly on the resale market.)
Despite being McCartney's first time on the road in three years, the Got Back Tour feels small in scale. His 2019 tour, by comparison, spanned 39 dates across 12 countries.
Asking McCartney to condense a two-hour a setlist from a 60-year discography is like asking the universe to compress itself into a single galaxy. Perhaps that's why McCartney's tour-opening show in Spokane was a two-hour, 42-minute marathon that encompassed 36 songs, starting with "Can't Buy Me Love" and closing with "The End." Joining McCartney on stage is his longtime backing band: Paul "Wix" Wickens (keyboards), Brian Ray (bass/guitar), Rusty Anderson (guitar), and Abe Laboriel Jr. (drums).
The tour follows the 2019 release of McCartney III, completing a trilogy of the self-named, home-recorded albums that, according to Pitchfork, is "less adventurous and revelatory than its eponymous predecessors, but still contains moments of genuine wonder and weirdness."
McCartney's first solo album debuted in 1970, followed by McCartney II a decade later, and now the third installment, recorded at the master's Sussex farmstead. Much of the predominately acoustic album crystallizes McCartney's cherubic tone, slow head-bopping acoustic strums, and love-induced melancholia.
"Women and Wives," by contrast, spotlights McCartney's baritone cadence while he swaps the acoustic guitar for a piano and drum set and opts for more free-flowing structures rather than "second verse, same as the first" patterning. "When tomorrow comes around/You'll be looking at the future/So keep your feet up on the ground/And get ready to run."
As if that weren't enough, in 2020 McCartney released McCartney III Imagined, a compilation of remixes and covers from the likes of Beck, St. Vincent, Khruangbin, and Phoebe Bridgers. The release demonstrates the legend's ability to commingle with modern musicians rather than resist them. (See also Mick Jagger commenting that "you have Yungblud and Machine Gun Kelly. That kind of post-punk vibe makes me think there is still a bit of life in rock and roll.”)
McCartney has been in the pulpit of nostalgia and pop culture for so long that we may take him for granted. Still, when he performs, his humility and oozing synergy make every show truly unimaginable and spectacular. It is hard to say if McCartney will ever retire or even slow down, but one truth is his love for music and limitless ingenuity operates more like a mathematical proof rather than hyperbole.
In a 1997 interview with Conan O'Brien, the late-night talk show host told Sir Paul, "Right now, you could be writing a great song."
McCartney, perhaps half-jokingly, responded, "I am, I am right now. It's all there — I can't reveal it right now, but just give me two more minutes."
Paul McCartney. 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, at Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood; 954-797-5531; seminolehardrockhollywood.com. Tickets cost $105 to $705 via ticketmaster.com.