That was profound. For all the insane facts and stats on Sir Paul McCartney and you can take your pick: 18 Grammys, songwriter of over 30 different US/UK #1 hits, total record sales in-excess of one billion, the most successful pop songwriter of all time etc., it ultimately all comes down to how those songs make you feel.

And for me and 30,000 other Kiwis Saturday night at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland, there were no less than 40 songs and exponentially more moments to make you feel.

Sir Paul McCartney performs at Mt Smart Stadium today. Photo / Chris Loufte
Sir Paul McCartney performs at Mt Smart Stadium today. Photo / Chris Loufte

Like the feeling when a raucous Back In The USSR ended and was replaced by McCartney at his trademark rainbow-coloured piano hitting the opening notes to the greatest secular gospel song there ever was, Let It Be. Somehow the fact we've heard this song a million times gets forgotten when the man who wrote it is before you and hitting those keys with the soulful conviction of Ray Charles and the melodic chops of Burt Bacharach.

Let It Be was as deeply moving in Auckland in 2017 as it would've been in Australia a week ago, in Japan 25 years ago and on any set of speakers you could find in any home in the world when it came out almost 50 years ago.


"And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me, shine until tomorrow, let it be."

Geez Macca, you floored me. Songs like this are so ubiquitous it's hard to imagine a time on this planet when they didn't exist. And yet once there was a Planet Earth with no Hey Jude, no Band On The Run, no Love Me Do and no Mull Of Kintyre.

I feel like I've spent my whole life defending my love of Mull Of Kintyre, like I'm somehow meant to be embarrassed for digging a bagpipe-heavy pop song with similar cadences and structure to Amazing Grace. And then you see it live by the 75-year old living legend who created it (with assistance Saturday night from the Auckland & District Pipe Band) and you find yourself with hairs on the back of your neck and raising your hands skyward like you've stumbled into some Hillsong event. More to the point, you see everybody else reacting in much the same way too.

Profound. Profoundly fun too. Like when a collective bouncing boogie enveloped the crowd during the third song of the night, Can't Buy Me Love. Or when Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da got the baby boomers and their (adult) kids dancing in the aisles. Or when Love Me Do reminded you that short of the Jackson 5's I Want You Back, this might just be the coolest, most assured debut single by a major act in music history.

There was a point in Saturday night's three-hour concert when I wondered if New Zealand audiences have ever been treated to a superior 30-40-minute run of songs. Specifically, from about 10:15pm to 10:55pm, McCartney rattled off Something (in tribute to George Harrison), A Day In The Life, Give Peace A Chance (honouring John Lennon), Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Band On the Run, Let It Be, Live And Let Die (complete with dancing fireworks) and Hey Jude. It felt like those na-na-nas could've gone all night and we wouldn't have minded.

Sure, the 75-year old version of Paul McCartney might not hit those upper-register notes with quite the ease of his younger self, but he still does a pretty strikingly good job. He is, after all, more than 10-years older than the old man he imagined he might one day be back on 1967's When I'm 64. Vocally he only got better on a night where he also showed his musical dexterity on acoustic guitar, electric guitar, his iconic bass, the piano and the ukulele.

There was an instant during the always gorgeous Blackbird when it was just McCartney and his acoustic guitar. Looking at him as a dot on the stage and then turning my eyes to the big screens, it hit me that the shape and silhouette of Sir Paul McCartney in the stage lights was just the same as it's been for all of my life. The shoulder-length hair, the lean legs and torso, even the way his guitar hangs on his frame, it's an unmistakable image of one of the most important figures of the 20th century and it somehow doesn't change with the passing of the years. Those of us who knew that missing Saturday night was simply not an option are unlikely to forget it anytime soon.

Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's The Two, Coast Soul on Coast and writes the music and travel blog