Concert Review: Paul McCartney at the Joint in Las Vegas

 It’s not often that you get to see a mega-star like Paul McCartney in any venue smaller than a huge arena, but that’s what fans were treated to last Sunday night, when Sir Paul held court at the new Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The all-new Joint, which holds 4,000 people, is double the capacity of the old Joint, but it’s closer in size to the Cavern Club in Liverpool than it is to the soccer stadiums that McCartney typically plays.

The band hit the stage around 8:30 and opened with “Drive My Car.” Guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray were in fine form, nailing not just the parts but also the tones from all the tunes. Anderson didn’t play his Gibson Trini Lopez for this show, opting for a blonde 335 and a Les Paul for the bulk of the tunes. Ray chose his Gretsch White Falcon for several of the old tunes, and played a cherry red SG for some Wings numbers. The amps for Anderson and Ray were Divided by Thirteen, while McCartney stood in front of a Vox and Mesa/Boogie backline. McCartney, when he wasn’t playing his trademark Hofner bass, played a Les Paul on the electric tunes, a Martin for “Blackbird,” and his classic Epiphone Texan acoustic on “Yesterday.”

Although this gig didn’t have as many of the surprises that Paul pulled out on his last tour, where he did “Penny Lane,” “Fixing a Hole,” and “I’ve Got a Feeling,” there were still a few unexpected moments, like his rendition of “A Day in the Life” into “Give Peace a Chance.” Other highlights included “Paperback Writer” (with the killer guitar riff that was originally played by Paul), “Sgt. Pepper’s,” and “Band on the Run.”

It was simply a great show from start to finish. Granted, the newer tunes aren’t going to bump any Beatles songs off anyone’s list of favorites, but Paul can do whatever he wants. He can still sing like an angel, and he surrounds himself with brilliant musicians who obviously have a ton of respect for the music. If you’re a Beatles fan and you haven’t seen him, what are you waiting for? If you’re in Vegas and want to check out an amazingly fan- and music-friendly club, catch a show at the Joint, because that place rocks.

(Stay tuned for an in-depth review of the Joint, along with an interview with Hard Rock VP of Entertainment Paul Davis on and in the pages of Guitar Player Magazine.)