McCartney Mania Captures Quebec

Paul McCartney  2008jay.jpg
Photo: Jay Ouellet

Paul McCartney gave "all his lovin'" to his fans in Quebec City. 

Paul McCartney thrilled fans with a free concert on the Plains of Abraham on Sunday, July20. Over 200,000 people came out to see the rock legend’s tribute to Quebec’s 400th anniversary. As birthdays go, this was one big party.Excitement and a little Beatles-era nostalgia marked he opening of the show on unday. Rumours of fans camping out at the concert entrance in the morning materialized in a massive queue in the afternoon. It turned out to be a diverse group. Teenagers and older folks, local residents and travellers alike waited along Grande Allée.  One woman, 58, from Vermont, explained her decision to line up early: “I used to dream about seeing a Beatles show, but getting there seemed impossible at the time. I ended up just watching [the Beatles] on TV. Now I’m able to be a bit closer to the action.”For some eager fans, being close to the action was worth racing for.  When the concert gates opened early in the evening, a wave of people ran toward the stage hoping to secure a coveted front-row spot. Early comers rushed in by the thousands without any serious trouble. Lining the concert grounds were teams of security and emergency personnel, so worst-case scenarios were neatly avoided.  In fact, apart from a few relatively minor incidents (scuffles, gate-crashers), the entire event was remarkably peaceable.The resulting scene on the Plains was impressive. By the time the concert started, the grounds were packed, with people spilling out onto the surrounding hills. Those lucky or determined enough to arrive early got a look at of the high-tech stage. To help the more distant spectators get a decent view, several enormous screens were set up around the site.The concert’s two opening acts set a cheerful tone. First, Montreal indie band The Stills revved up the crowd.  Next, Quebec City’s Pascale Picard Band delivered a dynamic performance of eclectic rock. After a dramatic break – and a dramatic sunset over the old Amoury – Sir Paul appeared on stage.“Bonsoir toute la gang!” he said.The crowed erupted. McCartney’s spirited bilingual introduction had fans roaring.McCartney promised a fun-fi lled night by opening his set with one of his many hit songs, Jet. During the next two hours, the former Beatle and Wings frontman covered an extensive list of favourites, including "Band on the Run," "Yesterday," "Birthday" and "All My Loving."The sea of spectators responded to the crowd-pleasers with cheers and waves.  People sang along. In the tradition of the best outdoor summer concerts, beer and inflatable beach balls were passed around. The energy in the crowd was positively sparkling. As for McCartney and his band, their energy appeared limitless.In fact, the 66-year-old rocker only stopped the set to address the crowd, dotting his English segues with an affectionate “Ça va?” here or “Merci beaucoup” there. Then he kept the hits coming.As McCartney led "Give Peace a Chance" midway through the night, concertgoers seemed completely enchanted. One fan, 29, from Montreal called the show “a dream.”“It’s almost too amazing for words,” he said. “Paul is music.” The concert was McCartney’s first visit to Quebec City. During the show, he called Quebec “a great place.”