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The Paul McCartney Concert

August 20, 2009
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The Drive

It took us two hours to get to the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, which is much longer than I thought it would.  But I really should have known.  We went through downtown Dallas at rush-hour, which took about an hour to get through.  And then when we got to Arlington, the Rangers were scheduled to play at 7.  The Rangers were tied with the Red Sox in the race for the wildcard slot at 67 games each, so every game counts.  Obviously, there were a lot of baseball fans.  Dallas Cowboys Stadium is right next to Ameriquest Field.

The roads to DCS are also the roads to the Ballpark

The roads to DCS are also the roads to the Ballpark

Unfortunately I had taken an exit that made us drive through the Rangers traffic.

I had pre-purchased a parking pass to lot 13 so we wouldn’t have to worry about parking.  Or so I thought.

DCS Parking

When we drove into lot 13, all the regular parking spots were taken, cars were parked in the grass around the entire periphery of the lot, and there were dozens of cars in line with us to park!  The parking attendant said that they had run out of spots.  Run out?  How the heck to you run out of parking spots?  Don’t they know the capacity of the lot?  If the lot only holds, say, 100 cars, why would you sell 150 parking passes?  Oh right, Jerry Jones’ greed, I forgot to factor that in.  Fortunately for us they figured a way to park a few more cars in the aisles, and we got a spot.  I don’t know what the poor people behind us did.

The Stadium

This was my first trip to the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium.  DCS is an amazing structure.  It’s held up, I’m not kidding, with flying buttresses that would make Notre Dame whimper (the cathedral not the football team, well maybe the football team too).

CIMG0021 CIMG0023

The inside is, well, the largest room I’ve ever seen.  And the worlds largest HD television.

Big screen TV.

Big screen TV.

Our seats were in the tenth row of section C139, close to the stage, but to the side.

McCartney seats

Our tickets said “limited view”, which we learned referred to the fact that a large LED display blocked part of the stage from our view.

The opening act.

The opening act.

Still we could see the front of the stage just fine, and we were pretty close.

Live Blogging

My Palm Pre really shined during this whole experience.  I tried to push it to the limit, and it did well.  On the way to the DCS, while my wife drove, I was able to simultaneously navigate using a GPS ap with real time traffic data, play music over the car stereo, send and receive email, and Tweet.  Because the Pre can multitask, when you switch apps, say from a GPS map ap to a Twitter ap, the Pre keeps the GPS ap running in the background so that when you switch back to the GPS ap, the map ap hasn’t lost your place.  Meanwhile the device can play music without interruption while you are doing  these things, and you’ll be notified of any incoming email.

Take that iPhone.

I live blogged the whole show using Twitter.  Even with about 50,000 cell phones in the same room I was still able to get a 3G EVDO connection most of the time.  The pictures above were taken with the Pre’s 3 megapixel camera. (Hey Palm, jitter compensation would be nice.)

The Show

The show was fantastic.  Paul’s voice is still good, although I noticed that the playlist didn’t include some of the songs that really used to showcase his voice, such as “So Bad”.  He chose a good mix of Beatles tunes, Wings, and his later material, some of which I wasn’t familiar with.

A friend of mine had posted Paul’s expected playlist that he had heard on a radio show (The Ticket) that I think was pretty accurate:

Drive My Car


Only Mama Knows

Flaming Pie

Got to Get You Into My Life

Let Me Roll It/Foxy Lady


The Long and Winding Road

My Love


Here Today

Dance Tonight

Calico Skies

Mrs. Vanderbilt

Eleanor Rigby

See the Changes

Band on the Run

Back in the U.S.S.R.

I’m Down


I’ve Got a Feeling

Paperback Writer

A Day in the Life / Give Peace a Chance

Let It Be

Live and Let Die

Hey Jude

Day Tripper

Lady Madonna

I Saw Her Standing There


Helter Skelter

Get Back

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band / The End

H/T Greg O.

Paul added Buddy Holly’s “It’s so Easy” as a tribute to Texas, since that’s where Holly was from.

My biggest complaint is that the sound quality in our seats was not very good.  I think this was due to tradeoffs that the sound system engineers made when setting up the speakers.  They probably did the best they could to provide as good a sound as they could for the greatest number of people and they just didn’t optimize for seats off to the side of the stage.

The problem is simply one of space.  Sound travels about 340 meters per second.  I estimate that the speakers farthest from us, behind the opposite end zone, were about 0.2 seconds from us at the speed of sound, but still loud enough to hear from our distance, so the sound of the music was sort of smeared out over a fifth of a second, and therefore not at all crisp.  This problem could have been avoided by putting all the speakers at one location, probably the stage, but that introduces a different problem: the speakers have to be so loud in order to reach the far seats, that the front row people would get ear damage.  While teenagers like that sort of thing, the average McCartney fan is eligible for Medicare.  The only real solution is to just perform in smaller venues.

The limited view did turn out to be a problem during the songs Paul performed at the piano, which was further back on the stage than the microphone stands and was completely blocked by the LED panel.

During “Live and Let Die” they put on a pyrotechnic show that included the largest indoor explosions I’ve ever seen.

This was not the big explosion.  This was the tiny explosion I was able to capture after recovering from the shell shock of the initial blast.

This was not the big explosion. This was the tiny explosion I was able to capture after recovering from the shell shock of the initial blast.

For most of the show they didn’t use the world’s largest HD TV overhead, which was good, because that would have been a distraction, but they did turn it on for the finale.

Video of a sunrise shown during the final song "The End" symbolizing that the end is also the beginning.

Video of a sunrise shown during the final song "The End" symbolizing that the end is also the beginning.

Overall, I think this was the best concert I’ve ever been to.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Flex727 permalink
    August 21, 2009 12:09 am

    I’m disappointed that you fell back so easily on the lazy assumption that your lack of parking was due to JJ’s greed rather than error with a brand new stadium that hasn’t had all the kinks worked out yet.

    Okay, that’s the only possible negative comment on your otherwise excellent post on the concert. Very nice summary and nice documentation, photographic and otherwise.

    Regarding the iPhone/Pre competition. Until the concert started, I struggled mightily to get connectivity. I did not have 3G, and Edge was extremely spotty at best. Clearly this is an AT&T problem and not iPhone, but it’s worth noting. Also, the photo I posted on Facebook looked pretty good, but I was unable to get anything worth looking at during the concert due to the high dynamic range of the set blowing out the picture. I salute the Pre’s camera, or rather the intelligent exposure capability. Your posted pictures look great.

    Finally, I deserve a h/t for motivating you to get your butt in the car as early as you did.

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