Paul McCartney’s first-ever Happy Valley show: A Long and Winding Road for fans

Paul McCartney performs on the “Out There” tour 2014 in New Orleans.
Paul McCartney performs on the “Out There” tour 2014 in New Orleans. Photo provided

Paul McCartney is a busy guy — but he still has time for central Pennsylvania.

Since launching in 2013, McCartney’s “Out There” tour has spanned more than 80 shows that have carried him through Europe, Japan, South Korea, the United States and on Oct. 15, directly onto the stage at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Retail tickets went on sale Aug. 31 and the arena’s 15,000 seats sold out rapidly, though seats are still available through resale vendors at a significant mark-up.

In anticipation of the artist’s first-ever performance in State College, we talked to a few of the lucky fans who were able to get their hands on tickets to the concert to find out what McCartney means to them, what they are most looking forward to, and how they are planning to share the experience with friends and family.

Lifelong fan

Mark Stevenson of Lock Haven isn’t quite sure how many Paul McCartney concerts he’s been to over the course of his lifetime — it’s either four or five — but one of them was most definitely a 1976 performance at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The jumbotron was MIA and the view from the cheap seats left a little something to be desired, but Stevenson didn’t need visual confirmation to know that he was watching the real deal.

“You couldn’t see him real well but you could hear him,” Stevenson said.

That was enough for the lifelong McCartney fan, who caught The Beatles’ televised American debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show” when he was 10 years old. Seldom has a day gone by since that a song by the performer has not been playing on his radio or in his head.

Still, seeing is believing.

Stevenson and his wife will be sitting within five rows of McCartney on Oct. 15 at the Bryce Jordan Center, part of a top-rate VIP package that also gives them access to the sound check and a reception with a menu suggested by the artist himself.

The tickets were gifted to Stevenson by his wife in honor of his 61st birthday on Oct. 18 and immediately trumped the floor seats he had already purchased for the concert.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” Stevenson said.

Every McCartney show that Stevenson has attended has a been a suprise, like hearing a new recording of an old favorite.

“You kind of relive it again, especially when you see it live,” Stevenson said.

Bringing Paul to Paul

State College resident Desiree Howell will brave the crowds at the BJC so that she can take her 8-year-old son Paul to hear his namesake perform live and in concert.

The things parents will do for their children.

Howell has been a fan of McCartney’s since high school, but more than anything the BJC show is an opportunity for her to share in the milestone of her son’s first concert.

“I don’t think he knows what to expect,” Howell said.

Howell has seen McCartney perform live before and was impressed by his stage presence.

“He had so much energy and it was a three-hour show,” Howell said.

She went online 8:55 a.m. the morning that the tickets went on sale and spent 25 minutes refreshing the page before settling for the best seats available.

Howell still remembers the excitement she felt at the age of 16 when she traveled from Indiana to Detroit to hear Davy Jones and the Monkees perform, and Howell is hoping that the atmosphere of McCartney’s State College show provides Paul with a similar charge.

“I know he’s only 8 but it would be great if he could pick up on the passion and the energy,” Howell said.

Family reunion

There might as well be a banner outside of the BJC on Oct. 15 that reads “McManus Family Reunion.”

Deb McManus, of State College, will reunite with three out of her four adult children for the concert, a quick time out from grandkids, jobs and the other demands of everyday life.

“We try and do something together as a family at least once a year,” McManus said.

One of her sons is located in Buffalo, N.Y., where McCartney is scheduled to appear following his performance at the BJC. McManus suggested that they rendezvous in State College for one simple reason — the parking is better.

The family is full of Beatles fans and McManus in particular responds to the positivity surrounding the former band.

“There’s nothing negative about The Beatles,” McManus said.

McCartney and his music go all the way back to her childhood and she’s excited about seeing some of that history unfold onstage.

“It’s about seeing a legend,” McManus said.