Given that Paul McCartney performed at the old Comiskey Park in August 1965 with the Fab Four, and concluded his 1989-90 tour—the first where he performed Beatles material since the band was together—at the old Soldier Field in July 1990, it seems only fair that Wrigley Field now gets its chance with two McCartney shows in the original ivy-covered park. Of course, a ballpark that didn’t add lights and only hosted day games for nearly seventy-five years has yet to experience anything quite like the night commotion that the former Beatle will likely bring to Wrigleyville. And having covered a McCartney show in a ballpark some years back where it rained the entire show, rest assured that unlike baseball, there will be no rain delays nor rain checks: nor can umbrellas be brought into the park. People sat there, and got wet. And barely noticed or cared.
It is difficult to express what it is like to experience an energetic and mesmerizing former Beatle perform the very material that defined an entire era surrounded by those who were part of that era with him, but who now bring their children and even grandchildren. Though the Lennon-McCartney song catalog has stood the test of time and continues to enchant generations of new listeners with an undiminished freshness, its overwhelming presence set a new standard in pop and rock music where artists were suddenly expected to write—as well as perform—their own music, for better or worse. The six-year period when the Beatles were at the peak of their powers was one of those rare, brief and wonderful moments when pop culture and high art converged. Their ultimate influence can be seen in the fact that no subsequent act has even remotely captured the public imagination as the Fab Four did, and that the creative and cultural revolution that the group helped launch remains a work in progress.
Now that we have the distance of decades, it becomes increasingly clear that the Beatles were the most innovative, emulated and most successful music group of the twentieth century. From transforming hairstyles and fashion, evolving attitudes about youth, politics and drug culture, writing their own songs and making the first music videos to accompany them, performing the first arena rock concerts, creating the first unified rock albums alongside of hit singles, to being the first rock performers who were truly considered ground-breaking artists in their own time, the Beatles set in motion both the creative and marketing paradigm for the modern rock era. The current McCartney stadium tour includes no less than twenty-nine gems from the Lennon-McCartney catalog which makes it the most Beatles-laden ever, and that includes the Fab Four at the height of their popularity, who would routinely perform twenty-five-minute sets delivered via poor amplification and through the white noise of constant screaming. (Dennis Polkow)
July 31 & August 1 at Wrigley Field, 1060 West Addison, paulmccartney.com/tickets/, 7pm. $49.50-$165 (top tix, which are sold out, were going for $395, though some VIP packages were still available at press time).
Dennis Polkow is an award-winning veteran journalist, critic, author, broadcaster and educator. He made his stage debut at age five, was a child art prodigy and began playing keyboards in clubs at the age of fourteen. He holds degrees in music theory, composition, religious studies and philosophy from DePaul University in Chicago. Polkow spent his early years performing and recording in rock and jazz bands while concertizing as a classical pianist, organist and harpsichordist and composing, arranging and producing for other artists. As a scholar, Polkow has published and lectured extensively and taught at several colleges and universities in various departments. As an actor, narrator and consultant, Polkow has been involved with numerous films, plays, broadcasts and documentaries. As a journalist, Polkow helped co-create the experiential Chicago Musicale and Spotlight, the award-winning tabloid arts and entertainment section of the Press Publications chain of newspapers, which he later edited. He also created and ran the nationally recognized journalism program at Oakton College and was faculty advisor to its award-winning student newspaper; many former students went on to major media careers, including Channel Awesome’s the Nostalgia Critic. Polkow’s research, interviews, features, reviews and commentaries have appeared across national and international media and he has corresponded from the Middle East, Asia and Africa for the Chicago Tribune. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org