July 14

Paul McCartney rocks Infinite Energy Arena


By: Curt Yeomans

Published: July 13, 2017

Members of Johns Creek Christian Church weren’t going to let the opportunity to see Paul McCartney performing about 15 minutes from their homes pass by without making a celebration of it Thursday.

They carried waving fans with signs on them, such as “McCartney Fan,” to the concert at the Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth. Their spread of food also carried whimsical names, such as “Let it Brie,” “Pizza in the Sky with Diamonds” or “Here Come the Sunchips.”

Some of them even showed up in entertaining outfits, such as hippie-chic bandanas and colorful sequined hats with multi-colored prism lens goggles.

“It would be big for Atlanta, so for it to be in Gwinnett is just even more so,” one church member, Lynn Renshaw, said.

“It’s just totally unexpected to ever get to see him this close to home,” another church member, Sherri Lawson said.

“We jumped on this,” Renshaw said.

McCartney’s first-ever concert in Gwinnett drew a packed house of fans from around metro Atlanta, as well as other states. As the show began, the legendary musician strutted out on stage in a shiny blue blazer with guitar in hand and quickly jumped into a rendition of “Hard Day’s Night.”

“This is going to be so cool,” McCartney told the audience after a few songs. “In fact, I need a moment to take it all in.”

He played hits, ranging from “Love Me Do” and “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Temporary Secretary,” “Here Today,” “Queenie Eye” and “My Valentine.”

For Monroe residents Sandra and Steve Sheppard, seeing McCartney perform in Gwinnett County is something they, at one time, wouldn’t have imagined happening. They lived in Grayson for about 20 years, before moving to Walton County four years ago. Sandra Sheppard still works in Lawrenceville, though, in the county government.

“I think it’s wonderful (to have McCartney perform in Duluth),” she said. “We come to a lot of events here, and we really enjoy it.”

Johns Creek residents Anna and Luis Fuster joked that they felt like they lived at the arena because they came to the James Taylor concert at the venue earlier in the week as well. McCartney was a pretty big draw for them though.

“We saw him once in Miami, and we always wanted to see him again,” Luis Fuster said.

“And this venue is awesome,” Anna said. “It’s small enough that you can appreciate anywhere you sit.”

At one point, McCartney asked the audience to yell if they were from Duluth, and then if they were form the surrounding area, or further out. Many of them were not from Duluth.

“OK then,” he said. “Well, on behalf of the tourist board for Duluth, we welcome you.”

For several concert goers, it wasn’t their first time seeing the former Beatle performing in the Atlanta area.

Alpharetta resident Bob Wilkins said he was at McCartney’s concert at Omni in 1976, and he and his wife, Sarah, have seen plenty more of McCartney since then.

“Sarah and I have been, I don’t know, probably four or five other times,” Bob said. “Then we were down in Turks and Caicos a few years ago and he was there with his family, and we ended up eating dinner with him, for just two hours, just me and her.”

Sarah said one of the reasons why she was interested in coming to another McCartney concert is because it was held at the Infinite Energy Arena. She said coming to Duluth, and avoiding Atlanta traffic, to see him perform in a smaller venue was a draw.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t have come if it had not been here because we’ve seen him so many times, if it had been downtown at Phillips, I would not have spent the money, and I would not have gone,” she said.