Buice column — A once in a lifetime experience

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 2, 2022

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As cliché as it might sound, seeing Paul McCarthy live and in person, especially in Winston-Salem at Wake Forest’s Truist Field, was truly “a once in a lifetime experience.”

I’ve never considered myself to be a big Beatles fan, but I’ve always admired the talent of Sir Paul, and his “Got Back” tour performance was more than “maybe” amazing.

For me, it was the capper on a wonderful nearly week-long experience in May of music and baseball (more on that later).
Finally getting to see a Beatle — and always my favorite among the foursome when I was a young lad — in the flesh for the first time was certainly worth the high price of admission.

Having seen many football games in Wake Forest’s stadium, I’ve never seen a crowd like the one that filled the stands and all the rows of seats set up on the field on that Saturday night.

McCartney, who turns 80 this month but hardly looks or acts his age, played 30-plus songs over nearly three hours with a brilliant mix of old and new. Along with being a terrific song writer for more than six decades, his ability to sing and carry the notes like someone much younger while jumping around to play multiple instruments was incredible.

There were too many highlights to mention, but the set before the encore, which included “Band On The Run,” followed by “Let It Be” and then “Live And Let Die” with an impressive pyrotechnics display, and the sing-along at the end of “Hey Jude,” really stood out.

Needless to say, I’m so glad I went to see a legend perform on stage in my hometown.

The night before, I made the trip to Greensboro and the dazzling Tanger Center to take in a concert by one of my all-time favorite groups — Chicago.

Actually, it was originally scheduled in May 2020 as one of the opening acts in the 3,000-seat downtown facility, but that got canceled because of COVID-19 and then rescheduled a couple of times because of the continuing pandemic.

But it was worth the more than two-year wait. Like McCartney, Chicago has more than stood the test of time — celebrating 55 years as a group.

Known as a “rock and roll band with horns,” I’ve always especially appreciated the brass section, including two of the founding members who are well into their 70s and still blowing those horns at a high level. I don’t know how they keep doing it.

I’ve seen Chicago many times over the years, and it never gets old hearing all of their famous hits and singing along. And the new venue in Greensboro was a magnificent place to see a concert.

• • • • •

Earlier in the week, I had planned a quick trip up north for some baseball.

First on deck was a couple of games in Altoona, Pennsylvania, which is located in the Allegheny Mountains 100 miles east of Pittsburgh and serves as the Double-A minor-league affiliate of the Pirates.

I wanted to go up and check out many of the top prospects who played last year for the Greensboro Grasshoppers, a High-A affiliate, and had moved up a level and hopefully closer to a dream of playing in the big leagues.

I enjoyed seeing the games but experienced something that had never happened in my life. I got a foul ball in the night game followed less than 24 hours later by grabbing another ball in the day game. Two balls in two days. What are the odds of that happening?

I had to make sure I kept them straight on which one came on which day to add to my display on my bookcase with other keepsakes from the past.

I know, grow up old man, but there’s still a little bit of a kid left in me.

From there, it was off to Baltimore that night to see a Major League game between the Orioles and Yankees in Oriole Park at Camden Yards. I think there were about as many Yankees fans there as those pulling for the hometown team.

It’s a beautiful park and a neat place to see a game with an old warehouse sitting just beyond the right-field wall and all the activity around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

I didn’t realize this was the 30th year for a stadium that has been used as a prototype for other ballparks that have been built since with that appealing retro look and feel.

And like McCartney and Chicago, it has also held up well over the years and remains a spectacular place to take in a game.

Ironically, upon my entrance I saw a banner hanging between the stadium over the walkway to the warehouse promoting McCartney’s “Got Back” tour coming soon to Baltimore.

As much as I enjoyed seeing him in Winston-Salem, I think I’ll pass after a week that included three baseball games in two days — and being on the road for 1,020 miles — followed a day later by the back-to-back concerts.

I need some rest.