SANDY — Another British invasion hit Utah Tuesday night. Sir Paul McCartney, also known as "the cute one," stormed the Rio Tinto Stadium stage and cranked out a set that not only spanned his 45-year music career but also included songs that formed the soundtrack to the lives of his fans in the sold-out venue.
Of course, there were Beatles hits such as "Drive My Car" and "All My Loving," but also he performed solo works such as "Jet" and "Letting Go."
McCartney sang each song with the same determination and passion he has always had. His voice even cracked in the trademark rasp that fans have become so familiar with.
Not only was this McCartney's first concert in Utah, but it also marked the 200th gig he and his current band lineup have played together.
His band — drummer Abe LaBoriel Jr., keyboardist Paul Wickens and guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray — played like a well-oiled machine. They played off each other and forced each other to their musical limits.
It was also hot. "Usually I keep my jacket on a little longer," said McCartney, who started the show wearing a black mod suit. "But now it's coming off." And with a smile he added, "and that's all that's coming off."
The mix was tight and crisp, and the audience could hear everything from the acoustic picking of "And I Love Her" to the pyrotechnics driving "Live and Let Die."
McCartney also played an acoustic set that featured the civil rights anthem "Blackbird" and "Here Today," which he wrote for his late Beatles bandmate, John Lennon.
He also paid tribute to another fallen bandmate, George Harrison, with a ukulele version of "Something." That song blossomed into a full electric jam.
Throughout the night the band's energy spread from the stage to the far reaches of the audience, and when McCartney smiled, everyone smiled with him.
Twenty-five thousand fans poured into the stadium for the sold-out show, including longtime Beatles aficionado Russell Rushton and his sons Jason, 29, and Aaron, 24.
"I grew up in Arizona and they never came there, so I never thought I would see him," Russell Rushton said. "This is a once in a lifetime. He's my favorite Beatle, so it's extra special."
Rushton can cite the exact moment he first saw the Beatles perform and became an avid fan — the band's TV appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show," Feb. 9, 1964. "It was a huge hit for the boys and the girls; I fell in love right then. It was instantaneous."
Since then, Rushton said his love for McCartney and the Beatles has only grown.
"I have all their albums on vinyl, I got my sons interested in them when they were younger by playing all the music for them while they were growing up," he said. "I couldn't miss this concert, this is awesome."
Roy residents Pat Vaughn and Evelyn Cox are two devoted fans who spent years dreaming of the day McCartney would come to Utah.
After arriving at Rio Tinto at 4 p.m., Cox and Vaughn said they hit a snag when they were informed that the third-party website they used to purchase their tickets had no record of their transaction.
After telling their story to the box office, they were able to snag floor seats on the 28th row from someone unable to attend.
Cox and Vaughn said they've been fans since they were 14 years old and even traveled to Denver in 2002 because they never thought McCartney, 68, would make a stop in Utah.32 comments on this story
"We never thought he would come to Salt Lake because we had waited for years and years and years."
When the duo first learned McCartney was coming to Utah, Cox said she knew residents were going to go crazy.
"We thought, 'Finally, after all these years, he is coming to Salt Lake,' " Cox said, "and I think after all these years he will be surprised at how much support and how many fans he has here. He should have come a long time ago."