Everything we saw and heard at Paul McCartney's stadium show in Orlando
By Jim Leatherman and Ida V. Eskamani
Tens of thousands of showgoers made the pilgrimage to Orlando’s Camping World stadium for what would be one of only two Florida shows on Paul McCartney’s 2022 “Got Back” tour. The Beatle, Wings-frontman, and prolific solo songwriter has no problem selling out stadium shows. But off the heels of the phenomenon that is Peter Jackson’s Get Back documentary, and five years since taking the stage in Florida, there was a special spirit in the air.
Attendees converged from across the state, of all backgrounds and generations, spending a not insignificant amount of hard-earned money to sing long-loved songs together. Elders shared stories of their first Beatles concert, while high schoolers skipped prom to see McCartney for the first time. Old lovers mouthed “this is our song” to each other, as sweet children sang along on their parents' shoulders; there was no shortage of micro-magic moments within those stadium stands. The staff at Camping World Stadium deserve special gratitude for working long hours and facilitating the evening.
McCartney was in prime-form, taking the stage with his iconic Höfner Violin Bass to overjoyed fans. The Beatle turns 80 next month, a stunning revelation considering he played three-dozen songs and a nearly three-hour set. The setlist was majority Beatles classics, a healthy balance of songs from the Fab Four’s expansive discography, while also weaving in Wings' classics alongside more recent and obscure tracks for “the real ones.” Never before played live included "You Never Give Me Your Money" from the Beatles’ Abbey Road; as well as a virtual duet with John Lennon singing Let It Be’s "I’ve Got a Feeling," incorporating remastered video from The Beatles’ last rooftop concert 53 years ago.
McCartney paid tribute to many of those iconic artists no longer with us, and gave a nod to the trials and tribulations of our times. A small European Union flag stood on stage alongside a Ukrainian flag; and prior to their encore, the band took the stage waiving several flags, including the LGBTQ+ pride flag. McCartney spoke to the civil rights movement and gender equality, and reminded concertgoers that he knew America was better than the era of segregation the Beatles witnessed and wrote about. The evening concluded with the Abbey Road finale, "The End." In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. - Ida V. Eskamani