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Veteran McCartney fan says Candlestick show was 'unforgettable'

Photographer Bob Gannon, who has traveled long and far to attend Paul McCartney concerts both in and out of the U.S., told Beatles Examiner he had to be at Candlestick Park for the concert last week. “As soon as this concert was announced, I knew that this was the one to be at on this tour,” he said. “Just the history of the venue where the Beatles played their last concert on August 29, 1966 would make this one a very special night.

Paul McCartney performing Aug. 14 at at the closing event for Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
Paul McCartney performing Aug. 14 at at the closing event for Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
Bob Gannon -- used by permission
Paul McCartney performing at Candlestick Park.
Paul McCartney performing at Candlestick Park.
Bob Gannon - used by permission

“But this event was more than a Paul McCartney concert, more than the Beatle's historic concert. It was about a lot of the hometown fans who cheered on the Giants and 49ers for so many years. The ticket holders who have held the same seats in their families for decades. The memories for them were both sad and sweet but if there was going to be a good way to finish out it's 54 years of tradition, Paul McCartney and a 50,000 person sing-along was one hell of a way to go out!”

Gannon said that the sports tradition of the venue played a part in the look of the fans attending. “Paul McCartney shows are always used to seeing Beatles and McCartney t-shirts, but there was also a large presence of 49ers and Giants apparel as well.”

He attended the pre-show sound check. “This day started at 2:45 p.m. for check-in and line-up. We were quickly led down to the field as Sir Paul was early and ready to rock. Paul and band then ran through 14 songs, 12 of which would not be played later during the concert. He dedicated "San Francisco Bay Blues" to VIP coordinator Shelley Lazar, who danced up and down the line of over 250 sound checkers to a large group of 'We Love Shelley' signs with hearts! A show of love from a group known as 'fans on the run.'”

Here's the set list from the Candlestick sound check: “Matchbox,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Honey Don't,” “Junior's Farm,” “Drive My Car,” “Let 'Em In,” “C Moon,” “It's So Easy,” “San Francisco Bay Blues,” “Every Night,” “Leaning on a Lamp Post,” “Midnight Special,” “Bluebird,” “Lady Madonna.”

He says the group was then taken upstairs to a private room for dinner and drinks to await the show. “Went down to my seat around 7 p.m. to meet some folks and find my seat. I think it was around 9 p.m. when Paul finally emerged on stage to 50,000 plus screaming fans. And from the first notes of "Eight Days a Week" you knew that this was going to be a party to remember.”

Gannon said the crowd was in full love mode. “Paul played three hours of Beatles, Wings and solo songs to the delight of the crowd. The first time he told a Candlestick story he joked that the experience was so bad that the Beatles never came back! During the show he also noted that he had lovely memories of that show and also that it was the last Beatles show. Paul added 'San Francisco Bay Blues' to his VIP coordinator, Shelley Lazar just like sound check and welcomed her home to San Francisco!”

He said McCartney also read a few signs during the show. “'Have you Hugged a disabled Vet recently' to which he answered 'No.' 'Will you sign my butt?, which he answered with a resounding 'no.' The 'Fans on the Run' group had a few surprises for Paul and gang. During the song 'NEW', the whole row held up signs spelling out "NEW" in the same blocked letters as on the album while they waved them during the song.

During "Band on the Run", signs were held up across the row spelling out 'Fans on the Run We Love Paul,' with a few hearts thrown in between letters. During the last chorus it made Paul smile and he actually replaced the lyrics with 'Fans on the Run' as he pointed down the row of signs in acknowledgment. At the end of the song, he also nodded and pointed down the row of fans.

“This group had one more surprise in store for Paul & Band. Just before 'Golden Slumbers,' Paul took time to thank his band and crew. The row held up signs that said, 'Thanks,' and then the names of Paul, band and crew members and at the end of the row it said 'See you next time.'”

Another moments of note during the show was during “Let It Be,” he said. “I turned around to look at a sea of lights around the stadium. It was a really cool moment. And 'Live and Let Die' had extra pyrotechnics.”

During the second encore, it appeared that the fans were not the only ones with a surprise, Gannon said. “Paul announced that they worked up a special song for the night and told the crowd that this was the last song that the Beatles played that night at Candlestick Park and then went into a ripping version of 'Long Tall Sally' leading the crowd in a frenzy as the screens showed black-and-white footage of the Beatles with some really cool graphics mixed in. As the song ended, the screen flashed a big "goodbye Candlestick Park" as it shrunk until there was nothing left.”

Gannon said it was an unforgettable evening. “It was a great show that I shared with great friends in and out of my row and, more importantly, a memory I'll never forget and one hell of a way to cap off my trip to San Francisco!”