Sellout crowd welcomes McCartney to Albany

A sellout crowd at the Times Union Center greeted Paul McCartney’s first performance on his U.S. tou
Paul McCartney plays the Times Union Center in Albany on July 5, 2014
Paul McCartney plays the Times Union Center in Albany on July 5, 2014

The Beatles first performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 9, 1964.

Dave Morgan was 26 and can still remember watching on TV and hearing the girls screaming in the audience when the band played.

“It was hysterical and historic,” Morgan said Saturday evening as he stood outside the Times Union Center before Paul McCartney’s sold-out performance, the first of his U.S. tour.

Before The Beatles, Morgan liked rock ’n’ roll, listening to artists like Buddy Holly. But everything about The Beatles seemed so different. Their hair. Their appearance. The way people reacted to them.

Fifty years later, Morgan is still a fan. He and his friend David France drove from Syracuse to see McCartney, singing their favorite songs along the way.

“I don’t remember my life without The Beatles,” said Gary Soccorso, who came up from Long Island with his wife, Teresa, and his 12-year-old daughter Erica for the concert.

Erica’s a fan, too. Her father took her to a McCartney concert in 2009 at Citi Field, where she sang all of the songs.

“That was my dream,” he said, “to have a child to see a Beatle.”

Hours before the concert began, fans showed up, some dressed in full Beatles regalia. Some fans, including LeGrande Serras, took in a pre-concert meal at Cafe Capriccio, just a few blocks from the TU Center.

Serras also remembers The Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” He was a senior in high school in Niskayuna, and his whole family gathered around the TV. Before The Beatles, it was mostly crooners and individual performers who had the top songs on the radio, Serras said. Music changed with The Beatles.

At Cafe Capriccio, concert goers walked in, either waited at the bar and ate or grabbed a table and ordered some wine and high-end Italian food.

“The Beatles are as American as ‘American Pie,’ even though they’re British,” Steve Bouchey said as he and his wife, Sue, sat with friends John and Stacey Millet for a meal before heading off to see McCartney.

Outside the TU Center, the scene was a lot more raucous. Bill Blais, from Long Island, sat down at an outdoor piano, part of a public art project in Albany, and started to play “Yesterday.”

As his fingers danced along the keys, the crowd of fans gathered around, singing as loud as they could, holding an impromptu concert of their own. One by one, those who were brave enough to do so, would sit down at the piano and the rest of the crowd would sing along.

When “Here, There, and Everywhere” was played, Lisa Barbero, who was with her husband, Michael, a fellow Beatles and McCartney fan, got misty-eyed while listening and singing along. The song was the first song at their wedding reception.

Lisa described the opportunity to see McCartney live as once in a lifetime. Although they both are only in their 30s, the couple still hold important places in their hearts for The Beatles and McCartney.

“They sing about all the different themes of human existence that make it beautiful,” Michael said.

Phil Griffith and his 15-year-old daughter, Madeline, took turns taking pictures next to a cardboard cutout of Sir Paul right outside the center. Her father had been a fan for 40 years, but it was Madeline who wanted to see Paul McCartney. She had a marker and a magazine with her, just in case she could get an autograph.

Categories: Entertainment, News

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