The Beatles formed the year I was born. They broke up when I was in second grade. Paul McCartney performed his last concert with Wings before I could drive, and John Lennon was murdered my senior year in high school. Which is to say that by the time I came of age, the ’60s were the province of historians and the ’70s had gone disco.
I wasn’t alienated from the Beatles and their magnetic pull as much left in its wake. My parents, born in the late ’30s, were too old or too conventional to be moved by the band as they juggled babies and law school. McCartney gave three concerts in town as a solo artist between 1993 and 2006, and I never considered buying a ticket.
Forty years after the Beatles played Met Stadium, our daughter was born. How she tapped into this cultural vein is beyond me, but it happened one summer. I told her McCartney was over 70 and hadn’t performed in the Twin Cities since 2005. We had passed up a chance to see him in Chicago a couple years previous and his 2013 tour had no Twin Cities stop.
Which explains why I was in Winnipeg’s football stadium last year, sitting with a bunch of folks older than me, waiting for Sir Paul to take the stage. For 9-year-old Melinda it was an exciting, if long, night and she learned all the pluses and minuses of live rock shows. But what was meant as a gift to my daughter proved more of a gift to myself.
McCartney on the Canadian prairie was transformative. Hearing the breadth of two decades of almost incomparable creativity (plus three more earnestly plugging away) connected me with the cultural force that was the Beatles in a way I’d missed during their heyday.
When July’s show at Target Field was announced, there was no question we were going. My teenage son was ambivalent. I told him to trust me and ask for the night off from his summer job. To see a spectacular MLB All-Star Game and Paul McCartney in the same ballpark, in the same summer, was simply more than any urbanite could rightfully ask for. The All-Star Game was magical, and two weeks later, McCartney was here. The set list and Sir Paul’s voice were stronger in Winnipeg, but the dynamism of his performance and the crowd’s spectacular energy took the day at Target Field. Listening to 42,000 souls of all ages sing the refrain to Hey Jude in unison, I was reminded of why we built the ballpark, moved by music’s power to connect, and awed by the four young men from Liverpool whose collaborative musical talent has not been equaled in half a century.
The Beatles have been gone for 44 years, but you wouldn’t have known it this summer in downtown Minneapolis. I don’t know if we will ever see Paul McCartney in concert here again, but I will never forget the evening where time seemed to stop and the city was aglow.
Adam Platt is the executive editor of Twin Cities Business Magazine and formerly held the same post at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. City Centered is his monthly column in Mpls.St.Paul Magazine that examines the cultural climate of the Twin Cities.