McCartney column

We saw him standing there

Commentary: Ted Potrikus

Fair warning: I’m about to go large on the name-dropping thing.

My wife, Angie, and I drove to Syracuse last weekend to see Paul McCartney in concert. We’re big Paul fans – our first date, in fact, in London, England, in November 1984 — was to see his not-great movie “Give My Regards To Broad Street” not long after its premier.

The guy turns 80 years old in two weeks. Eight-zero. If nothing else, he’s a walking testament to a vegetarian lifestyle. And there he was, on stage in a sold-out Carrier Dome, still blazing away on bass, piano, and guitar, still singing the songs in their original keys, still whipping out nuggets from “Love Me Do” through the obligatory “Hey Jude” to “Band on the Run” and, in a terrific surprise, a duet of sorts with John Lennon with a video capture from the “Let It Be” rooftop concert.

Paul McCartney on stage in Syracuse on June 4, 2022

A beautiful show; engaging, energetic, emotional, and joyful, filled with spectacle and a canon of indelible songs, some now six decades old. We won’t see his like again. Saturday was my tenth Paul McCartney show since 1989 and was, far and away, the best of them all.

I met Paul McCartney on three occasions when I was in college in London in 1984. All these years later, I remember it like it was yesterday. I had an internship not far from Soho Square – where Sir Paul’s office still sits – and would walk through on my way home. One Monday evening as I walked past the McCartney Productions Limited office, he popped out the front door. There was no mistaking my glee.

Surely I blurted out overly-excited fanboy gibberish, but I do remember saying, “No one is going to believe this.” I mean, there I was with no camera or Sharpie or anything to record the moment. He patted me on the shoulder. “Come back on Friday afternoon,” he said. “Bring a friend. Bring a camera. We’ll make ‘em believe it!” And then I got the trademarkable Paul McCartney Thumbs-Up gesture as he stepped into his waiting car (a metallic green Mercedes sedan) and inched off into London’s nighttime traffic.

It didn’t take much to convince my friend David McLean to head back to Soho that Friday afternoon. I promised him either a meet-up with Paul McCartney or a night at the pub, my treat, in case Paul stood us up. Dave and I looked up into the second-story window of the MPL building as dusk was falling – we could see the painting on the wall that was the backdrop for Paul’s 1981 “Tug of War” album and the little statue that was the cover of his 1979 “Wings Greatest” album. And then we saw the man himself as he looked out his window. He spied us there, gave us a wave, and headed down his stairs. We raced to the door.

Out he came – “I don’t have much time, guys, what do you have?” We produced our album covers for his autograph and my little Kodak Disc Camera (all the rage back then). “Ooo!” he said. “A Disc! Me baby!” We still don’t know what he meant by that, but Dave and I walked away with our ‘hey we met Paul’ picture proof and autographed album covers. As he ducked into his waiting Mercedes, he said, “Dave! Ted! See ya next time!” Another thumbs-up and off he went.

Your correspondent with Paul McCartney, London, England, November 1984.

It’d be fun to say hello to him again all these years later to tell him that my wife and I soon will celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary – a marriage that began with a first date to his movie.

But she and I – along with thousands of others in Syracuse of every age – were thrilled to just experience a Paul McCartney show one more time, each of us with our own Beatle memories, each of us feeling like we know the guy, and everyone singing along. “See ya next time!” he called to the audience at the end of a nearly three-hour show. No maybe about it – we were all amazed.

2 thoughts on “McCartney column

  1. Skipper

    So awesome. My wife and daughter went. M daughter is 19 and is the music director at SUNY Oneonta and her show is called Nothing Is Real due to her love of the Beatles. She is published in NYS Music and KindaKoolMagazine. I have to show her this story

  2. larry bennett

    How can you not love McCartney? I’ve never seen him in person, but I have worn out plenty of recordings: 45’s, 33’s, 8 tracks, cassettes, and CDs. Thank goodness for satellite radio and the Beatles channel.

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