Paul McCartney churned out a Beatles-laden song list to a pumped-up crowd gathered Sunday for a free concert as part of Quebec City’s 400th anniversary celebration.
McCartney opened the show with the Wings song “Jet” after which he greeted the crowd in French. The audience erupted and the band then started into the Beatles’ 1965 classic “Drive My Car.”
Organizers expected some 200,000 people at the outdoor show on the city’s Plains of Abraham.
“C’est ma premiere visite a Quebec, and it’s a great place,” McCartney said, saying it was his first time there and stirring a roar from fans in response.
Tens of thousands of music fans began congregating early Sunday in hopes of grabbing a good view.
Fan Leo Rodrigue sported a red Montreal Canadiens hockey jersey with the name “McCartney” emblazoned across the back above the number one.
Carol Cleeland traveled from New Jersey with her sister, Elizabeth, for the concert.
“We’ve been fans of the Beatles and Paul McCartney since the beginning,” said Cleeland. “We love Paul McCartney’s music and everything about him.”
Journalists yelled questions at him from a distance as he got out of his car. When one asked: “Are you happy to be in Quebec City?” He gave a thumbs-up and shouted, “Oui.”
The much-anticipated show, McCartney’s only scheduled performance in North America this year, drew ire from some in the province who have questioned his participation in the weekend birthday celebrations of French-speaking Quebec City because of his British roots.
They claim his presence evokes painful memories of Britain’s conquest of New France in 1760.
In an interview with Radio-Canada earlier this week, the 66-year-old bassist brushed off the nationalists’ claims.
“I think it’s time to smoke the pipes of peace and to just, you know, put away your hatchet because I think it’s a show of friendship,” McCartney said.