Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Knight at the Cathedral

Paul McCartney carries an American flag at his Yankee Stadium concert on July 15, 2011.
Friday night (July 15th) I went with my wife and two friends to Yankee Stadium to see Paul McCartney.  I find it very interesting that big musicians – particularly non-American ones – choose to play in baseball stadiums.
Historically, Paul McCartney is significant in regard to playing at baseball stadiums in New York.   The Beatles opened their second world tour at Shea Stadium in the summer of 1965.  It was the first time a concert was played at a major league stadium and it broke both attendance and revenue records on that single stop.   It was so successful that the Beatles did an encore performance at Shea the following summer.
When Billy Joel did his “Last Play at Shea” in 2008, Paul McCartney came out to help close the concert to thunderous applause.  There was an amazing feeling knowing that I was watching one of the legendary Beatles close down the stadium.
While I loved the concert at Yankee Stadium last week, I felt it contrasted from Billy Joel’s at Shea Stadium.  Joel is a native New Yorker, and has grown up in and around the tri-state area.  He knows the game and knows the culture of the fans.  He chose his music well – as well as his special guests, including Tony Bennett , a fellow  New Yorker who sang New York State of Mind, and Garth Brooks, who had a brief stint playing for the San Diego Padres, and came out in a Mets uniform.  These guys know the culture of the game and of the fans.  I don’t know if McCartney did.

McCartney on stage at Yankee Stadium.

While McCartney’s concert, energy, voice and staging were second to none, there was one big thing he missed – he was at Yankee Stadium.  And he just didn’t do his homework on that.  Yes, he hit on the obvious when he stated, “Who is this Derek Jeter guy?  Someone told me he has more hits than me!”  I will admit that was witty and well timed. 
However, twice during the concert 55,000 or so fans started a roll call, chanting “Paul McCartney!” just like they do for Yankee players during the first inning of any given game at the stadium.  The problem is, Sir Paul had that dumbfounded English look on his face – he had no idea what the crowd was doing and made no acknowledgement to the fans for the distinct honor.  I don’t fault him – he is a Brit, and how would he know?  But then again, shouldn’t you know your audience?
My wife immediately tweeted to Nick Swisher, and requested that he school McCartney on proper protocol.  As a distinguished member of rock royalty in a baseball cathedral, you are expected to know protocol and act accordingly.  This is where Sir Paul fell short.  My advice to him is this: find out about the culture of your venue before you play there.  Here’s hoping he does before he hits the very classic, very historic Wrigley Field on August 1st.

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