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Sir Paul McCartney thrills fans with unforgettable concert at UM
Under the direction of the legendary Sir Paul McCartney, the largest sing-along in Montana’s history took place on a hot August night inside Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
At one point during the concert, more than 25,000 electrified fans—larger than the population of all but six cities in Montana—belted out Hey Jude in perfect unison. It was something to behold for those lucky enough to be in the stadium—as well as the folks dotting the M Trail up Mount Sentinel, which was renamed “Mount McCartney” for the day.
“Sweet,” U.S. Senator Jon Tester says of McCartney’s performance. “I think sweet sums it up. What an incredible concert.”
McCartney played Missoula as part of his Out There tour, and the seventy-two-year-old Beatle didn’t disappoint the crowd [which included Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament and Eddie Vedder] at the largest concert ever held in Montana. He and his band played thirty-nine songs during the three-hour show.
“This is so cool,” McCartney said after a few songs. “I need to take a minute and drink this in myself.”
The stage was set up in the south end zone of the stadium, and towering screens on each side projected scenes from the concert. The set list included his own tunes, both old and new, and classics from The Beatles and Wings. He opened with Eight Days a Week, and other songs included Paperback Writer—which he played using the guitar from the original recording—Blackbird, Let It Be, and Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da—another popular sing-along. Live and Let Die featured an amazing pyrotechnic display.
Near the end of the show, McCartney brought a mother and daughter on stage after reading the mother’s sign, which said “Please sign my daughter.” He obliged and autographed the shoulder of each woman. He said they planned on getting matching tattoos of the signature.
“We were honored to have Sir Paul McCartney select Missoula as a venue on his tour,” UM President Royce Engstrom says. “He performed with tremendous energy and feeling. My favorite was probably Hey Jude.”
To put on a show of this magnitude, it took cooperation from all areas of campus, from the UM Police Department to UM Dining, Griz Athletics, Facilities Services and everyone in between. More than 600 people were employed for the show, and UM worked with Seattle-based promoter AEG Live for four months to plan the event.
“The concert was a great success for UM and for Montana because of the hard work of many, many people,” Engstrom says. “I was so proud of UM.”
Adams Center Executive Director Brad Murphy says the tour was thrilled to be in Missoula and really enjoyed the stop, and, likewise, the people of Missoula were obviously thrilled to host McCartney.
Murphy says that along with the economic impact—hotels, restaurants, and bars were packed—McCartney’s show was a boon to UM’s reputation for hosting large concerts.
“It really puts us on the map for these types of events,” he says.
John Heaney is the editor-in chief of the Montanan. An Anaconda native, John graduated from UM in 2002 and took the helm of the Montanan in 2010. In between, he worked for the Missoulian, the Spokesman-Review, the Coeur d'Alene Press, and the Anaconda Leader.
Todd Goodrich is the University of Montana's photographer. He graduated from UM's School of Journalism in 1988, and has captured images on campus for more than twenty years.