CANDLESTICK PARK — The lights dimmed for the final time on Candlestick Thursday night as the legendary Bay Area venue hosted one final performance.
Luckily for the 50,000 members of the Stick’s funeral procession, legendary musician Paul McCartney was there to deliver a rocking eulogy, sending the decrepit stadium out with a bang.
Returning 48 years to the month after The Beatles played their final public concert at the then-modern stadium in 1966, McCartney and his band delivered a monster 40-song set spanning more than 2 and 1/2 hours.
It was a night of remembrance for both McCartney and members of the audience who were able to relish the final moments in the historical sports venue.
Opening with Eight Days A Week, McCartney set the tone for what would be a tour de force of past works with — much to the crowd’s delight —a heavy emphasis on popular Beatles tunes.
Beginning nearly a full hour after the original start time of 8 p.m due to gridlocked traffic, McCartney wasted no time in powering through the nights first few songs.
With the night just as much his own special event as it was for the thousands of people in the stands, McCartney eventually put down his instrument while walking to the front of the stage to take in the sight:
“This is such a cool event. I’m just going to take a moment to drink it all in.”
The night was nostalgic through and through. From the historical pre-show pictures scrolling across the stage’s massive monitors, to McCartney’s sentimental set list and entertaining stories from his younger years, the night was drenched with memories of times past but not forgotten.
McCartney’s sentiment hit a peak during tributes to his late bandmates George Harrison and John Lennon, to whom the lone Beatle played chilling tributes by performing “Here Today” and “Something ” to a silenced crowd.
The spry and energetic 72-year old could not contain his inner rocker for extended periods of time, sharply changing from tender songs like “My Valentine” and “Let It Be” into rip-roaring versions of “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five” and “Live and Let Die.”
McCartney’s set list was not far removed from the performance he put forth during 2013’s Outside Lands festival, barring a few minor changes. McCartney seemingly spent less time with his iconic Hofner bass and more time with an acoustic guitar during Thursday night’s set, and dropped the heavy Beatles number Helter Skelter from his show.
But even with the similarities, McCartney and his crew found new ways to make the night special.
Whether it was by recanting his last time at The Stick (“It was cool then and it’s cool now,”) playing the Jesse Fuller tune “San Francisco Bay Blues,” or performing a special version of Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally,” the final song of the Beatles Candlestick performance, McCartney made sure the night had a historical local flare.
Ending his night with a fitting rendition of The Beatles “The End,” McCartney arose from his piano to thunderous applause.
Though the final key stroke closed the book on Candlestick Park, McCartney made sure to let the crowd know that he would return to the Bay Area.
Even after a long concert that had most of the attendees standing throughout the night, many fans seemed resigned to leave Candlestick Park for the last time. Fans lingered in their seat, took photos of the stadium and even tried stealing grass from the field following the conclusion of the concert.
All of Candlestick’s shortcoming were on full display that night. The concourses were a crowded mess of people unable to move past each other, those commuting by car were fortunate enough to pay $40 for the pleasure of being stuck in gridlocked traffic for hours, and the concessions were out of some items before the concert even began.
And though we are just days away from the San Francisco 49ers hosting their first football game in the new and luxurious, Levi’s Stadium, McCartney’s performance is sure to have cemented a place in fans’ hearts for the cold, windy, outdated but beloved Candlestick Park.