As one of the most prolific and popular musicians of his generation, in many ways Paul McCartney is ‘The Rockefeller of Rock’. Not counting his work with The Beatles, McCartney has released a total of 24 studio albums, 9 Live albums, 4 compilation albums, and 7 classical albums both as a solo artist and with his group Wings since The Beatles disbanded in 1970.
With concerts that sell out whenever they are announced, the next best thing to catching Sir Paul live in performance is the phenomenal McCartney Tribute show that musician Yuri Pool has assembled that is known as The McCartney Years, which is set to land at Saginaw’s Temple Theatre on Friday, January 12th at 7:30 PM.
Billed as ‘The Premier McCartney Concert Experience’ and hailed by original Beatles promoter Sid Bernstein as ‘The Best on the Scene’, The McCartney Years is a period-true, technically stunning and explosive live concert show that performs the music of Paul McCartney spanning two decades from The Beatles to Wings. Songs include hits like Hey Jude, Jet, Let It Be, Band on The Run, The Long and Winding Road, Live and Let Die, Lady Madonna, to name but a few; along with some of the deep cuts that McCartney wrote during the 1960’s and 1970’s - all performed to their original arrangements by a band that has entertained audiences worldwide and even has a personal accolade from former Wings guitarist Denny Laine.
Woven into a familiar musical mosaic that includes material from both his Beatles & Wings period, front man and producer Yuri George Jan Pool and the members of The McCartney Years have created an international touring production with a wealth of material presented within a 3-hour concert show. From the groups inception, every performance is perfectly tweaked to a vocal and musical arrangement that is a mirror reflection of the original score from a library of over 250 songs.
Recently I had the opportunity to interview Yuri about the long and winding road that prompted him to create this phenomenal Tribute presentation, which has also been featured on the BBC, CNN, Fox News, CBC and CTV, and earned the group a Fan Favorite at the 2009 Jack Richardson Music Awards.
Review: Please relate to me your own musical background - how did you develop your interest in music and how did you get the idea for developing this McCartney Tribute project.
Yuri Pool: I have always been a big fan of The Beatles, but McCartney foremost, even though it wasn’t McCartney that got me into music in the first place. That was Lennon, actually. I started my music ‘career’ at 11 when given a guitar by my mother for Christmas. The reason I wanted to play guitar goes back to reading the flip sides of the Beatles records that my dad owned: next to John Lennon, it said ‘Rhythm Guitar’. I thought ‘rhythm’ was such a cool word with all the consonants, so I thought ‘well, that’s a great job title’, and so a new musician was born! Just like The Beatles were inspired by their heroes such as Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly (we were in Lubbock, Texas, the birthplace of Buddy Holly just a few days ago ironically), I was inspired by mine; The Beatles.
I started really playing the music when I did an audition for a Beatles production in England in the summer of 2004. For me personally, it wasn’t so much about doing the audition, but more about connecting with like-minded people, as I had moved there just weeks before.
Not expecting anything, I got a call that same night that I had the job, but was required to learn to play roughly 40 songs in just over a week, as shows were already booked and they needed me on the road. As I never really played bass professionally in a band, I literally had to start from scratch and gave myself a crash-course in McCartney-ism! For days and nights, I watched videos, listened to every song meticulously, and copied not only Paul’s playing, but also his style in order to create a believable image of him on stage in the group. I think I pulled it off, because I toured with this band for over 3 years.
Being a fan of McCartney’s post work, I was always curious if a band existed that played that music much in the same way as the Beatles production I performed in. I couldn’t find anything, or anyone doing this, so I decided that if no one was going to take on this job, I would.
My final concert with The Beatles group was in Wales and just a few days later I stepped onto a plane to Canada. I arrived in Canada in the fall of 2007, and attended a bunch of jam sessions at a popular music club in London (the other London). I bounced around the idea of a McCartney/Wings oriented band there and soon I had 4 guys and a girl jump on board, and the band was born. We are celebrating our 10th anniversary this year, and it has been a tremendously fun trip so far!
Review: McCartney has a huge catalog of music spanning the expanse of his career, so what periods does this tribute show touch upon? Do you cover only his solo material, or also his work with The Beatles; and do you cover all the various periods of his solo career? Also, given the number of songs he has written, so do you switch the show up nightly?
Yuri Pool: I remember when I first started writing the song list for this show back in 2007, and decided that I would only play the hits. Well, I ended up with a 6-hour show, and although I would have loved to put that on stage, I think it would have been a pretty long show to attend unless one brought a bed!
It is always difficult, and it still is, to write song lists for every single show we do. McCartney wrote so much fantastic material over the decades that no matter what you perform, there will always be many hits that are left out, simply because there is not enough time. Over the years what we have done is to spread all the songs over a tour. We’re a busy group, and often enough we are on stage 4 to 10 times over the course of as many days, so we spread the songs over the shows of a tour. This way, we get to play a slightly different show every night (and remain sane), as well as the audience.
I keep records of every show we do, so when we return to an area, I change up the songs so that the people that saw us previously, get to hear a number of different hits. The show evolves and changes almost every day. It is what keeps us and the audience fresh, and has enabled us to perform this show for so long now.
The show covers a healthy mixture of hits from The Beatles and Wings. I’d say we perform probably more Beatles than Paul McCartney would have done back in the 1970’s - obviously because he was promoting his albums at the time - but still, large portions of the show are dedicated to the famed ‘Wings Over America’ tour, as well as at least a few songs of every album that McCartney sang on in The Beatles.
The McCartney Years is more like a concert-type experience; a show that recreates Paul McCartney’s live touring career of the 1970’s, regarded by many as the height of his career paying tribute to not only his music, but also to him as an energetic performer. That, in combination with a 6-piece band, makes this show an authentic, sonically explosive live show that has even gotten the attention of Denny Laine, Paul McCartney’s long-time collaborator in Wings who called it ‘Fantastic’.
Review: What do you feel are McCartney's biggest musical strengths? His bass work with the Beatles was very innovative and he has always been noted for his harmonic abilities and memorable melodic structures to his compositions, whereas his lyrical abilities have always suffered the greatest scrutiny from critics; but his versatility as a multi-talented instrumentalist have also often slipped under the radar of many critics. After dissecting his material so closely for this tribute presentation, what are your assessments of his musical talents?
Yuri Pool: His musical talents and composition are second to none. I think the quality of song-writing is all relative though. I mean, songs like Penny Lane, Maybe I’m Amazed, Eleanor Rigby, and She’s Leaving Home are lyrically all great songs and are in perfect tune with the melodies. And that’s just to name a few songs he penned as a 20-something in The Beatles. The quality of a song lies in how the words flow with the music and vise-versa, rather than just one aspect of a tune, and I think he did that well, really well actually just like the others.
Like McCartney, I am a multi-instrumentalist. You have to be in order to perform this music right. I love the piano. I always had an interest in playing piano even before I could play it. My sister had a piano given to her by my parents, and I would often tinker when no one was home (sorry sis). The great thing about piano is that all the notes are laid out in front of you, so it was fairly easy for me to find the notes, put them together and play a song.
I am self-taught. Learning McCartney’s piano tracks like Live and Let Die, Let It Be, or the more obscure Call Me Back Again, the rawness of his performance really shines, and I think that, in combination with his great vocal abilities, is what makes it so powerful. Like McCartney, I am too a tenor, and it has taken me over a decade to perfect all of the tasteful colours that his vocals have; from the sweet and soft Yesterday, to belting out the raw ‘Oh, Darling’.
Review: What is the most challenging component involved with bringing this type of Tribute project to fruition?
Yuri Pool: There wasn’t really one thing that stood out as the most challenging. Everything is. When performing McCartney on a live stage in front of over a hundred thousand people in any given year, the level of expectation is very high. I mean, every single person is a potential critic. They know the music at least as much as I do, and in some cases, even better. It is with that thought that we climb the stage every night.
Everything, but I mean everything must be right. The biggest fans usually have the loudest voices, and are usually the ones going out of their way to tell us. Going by what I am seeing on our social media pages, I think we’re doing quite alright. I am a fan myself, and nothing separates us from them. We love the music and we want to perform it as true as is physically possible, and that is what makes this show so much fun.
Review: What is your favourite McCartney album?
Yuri Pool: This is a tough one! There is just SO much material to choose from. I have to say that I love ‘Ram’ and ‘Venus And Mars’ very much. I know many fans out there would agree with me on that one. These albums really define McCartney as a versatile writer, composer and vocalist. After the break-up of The Beatles, Paul wanted to shake the ‘ex-Beatle’ image, just like the others (Lennon spoke of that on several occasions in the 70’s), and these albums really made Wings a band in its own write. And it is that excitement that Paul had about performing live again with a group and tour the world that we put back onto the stage today!
The McCartney Years is guaranteed to pull you out of your seat to clap, sing and dance to the music by one of the most prolific artists of all time in this authentic, timeless live concert experience. Tickets are reasonably priced at $21, $29, and $37 and are available by phoning 877-754-SHOW or going to templetheatre.com. The Temple Theatre is located at 201 N. Washington Ave. in Downtown Saginaw.
Additionally, if you mention Saginaw’s Major Chords for Minors at the point of sale, or select the non-profit pricing option while checking out online, you will receive 10% OFF your ticket purchase. Major Chords for Minors is the Temple’s non-profit partner on this event and a portion of the proceeds will go to support this worthwhile entity, which since 2011 has provided opportunities for youth to explore and cultivate their musical talent through private music instruction and building a better community.
16th November, 2023