McCartney Month: In 2005, Paul McCartney tumbled in Tampa, but bounced right back
(Welcome to McCartney Month on Soundcheck! We're counting down to Paul McCartney's July 10 concert at Amalie Arena by shining a light on Sir Paul and the Beatles every day.)
Remember that time Paul McCartney nearly kicked the bucket in Tampa?
Okay, fine, maybe the "Paul is dead" thing didn't come THAT close to fruition when McCartney performed at the St. Pete Times Forum on Sept. 17, 2005, the singer's most recent trip to town.
Emphasis on the word trip.
Before performing Fine Line, a song from his 2005 album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, McCartney tumbled into a pit holding his piano as fans gasped in horror.
"Okay, there’s a big hole in the stage, and I just fell into it," McCartney said. "We’ve been expecting this to happen, and it happened in Tampa!”
Wrote Curtis Ross in the next day's Tampa Tribune: "If McCartney missed an opportunity all night it was here -- he could have moved up Fixing a Hole from its slot later in the set."
The fall attracted media attention around the world, and turned out to be the thing most people remembered from the show. As Ross wrote: "The thing about a show this precise and so guaranteed to please is the little gaffes make it even more memorable. Like McCartney flubbing a chord change in I Will -- 'It's a long time since I wrote this,' he protested with mock defensiveness.'"
This show sold out within minutes of going on sale, and attracted 18,095 fans of all ages.
One highlight was hearing McCartney dig a little deeper into the Beatles catalog than he had in tours past -- something that's continued in the years since. He played songs like I'll Get You, For No One, I'll Follow the Sun, I've Got a Feeling, Till There Was You and, incredibly, the rare Quarrymen track In Spite of All the Danger.
"This is from before we were the Beatles," he said.
"He played the sappy ditty on an acoustic guitar, an intimate moment that proved McCartney wasn't interested in a by-the-numbers show," wrote Sean Daly in the St. Petersburg Times. "He followed that with a strummy version of wedding fave I Will (which he flubbed up but laughed off) and gorgeous new weeper Jenny Wren, which holds up remarkably well next to similar-sounding classic Blackbird, which he'd later perform after a poignant story about playing classical guitar with late friend George Harrison. (Who knew Blackbird was inspired by Bach?)
"A show like this makes you want to blather out all the hits like a fanboy: For No One (!), Fixing a Hole (!!), Eleanor Rigby (!!!). They really don't write songs like Band on the Run anymore; the song's first two minutes should be taught in every high-school music class. Cameras panned the audience during the Wings classic, and finding someone who wasn't mouth agape and singing along was harder than a game of Where's Waldo?"
It would be McCartney's last performance in Tampa for a dozen years, although he did play Orlando twice in 2013. Finally, he returns to Amalie Arena on Monday. This time around, he'll surely keep an extra eye on the stage.
-- Jay Cridlin