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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
A&E >  Entertainment

How Spokane passed its Paul McCartney audition

Feb. 23, 2022 Updated Wed., Feb. 23, 2022 at 3:42 a.m.

“I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we’ve passed the audition,” John Lennon cracked after the Beatles finished “Get Back” and the band’s career as live performers in public.

The Beatles were well past auditions after concluding a 42-minute show on the roof of their London-based Apple Corps headquarters in 1970.

The late Lennon’s songwriting mate Paul McCartney isn’t trying to land anyone’s approval, but Spokane unwittingly was auditioning for the former Beatles bassist. During the week before Christmas, Spokane showcased for the chance to host a performance in McCartney’s upcoming Got Back tour.

When Matt Meyer, Spokane Facilities District director of entertainment, learned in mid-December that Spokane was a possible destination for a McCartney concert, the red carpet was rolled out for the legendary Beatles’ production manager Mark “Springo” Spring.

McCartney’s righthand man trekked to town and stayed in the Presidential Suite at the Davenport and was wined and dined at Mizuna. When Springo wasn’t feted, he scrutinized the city.

“Springo asked how Spokane was doing financially and how we were doing with COVID,” Meyer said. “Then he decided to see how things were going, and he walked up Riverside and, well, everywhere downtown. He was blown away by how many people were walking downtown even with COVID numbers going up at the time.

“He was impressed by how many businesses were still open. He said out of all of the cities he visited, Spokane had the least amount of closed businesses. He loved that you could walk from (Riverfront) the park to the Arena. He said that Paul loves parks.”

He was particularly impressed with the Davenport.

“He’s a super down-to-earth guy who, when he saw where he was staying, said, ‘It’s too fancy for me here. Why did you put me in such a room? Did you think I was going to throw a high school party?’ I said ‘I’m going to show you where Paul will be sleeping.’ He said, ‘If we do come to Spokane and this is the room where Paul will be, will you please tune the piano for Paul because it’s out of tune?’ ”

The following day, the Tuesday before Christmas, Springo walked from the Davenport to the Spokane Arena where Meyer and 20 employees ranging from marketing to box office personnel met with the eyes and ears of McCartney.

“We discussed the production and talked about other details, and I asked where we stood, and Springo said he was down to three cities for the tour and the potential to open the tour, and he was not impressed with the other two cities. Springo said, ‘I think we found the place where we need to start the tour. You won me over.’ ”

There was little contact with the McCartney camp until late January. “I heard from them, and they said, ‘We need this and that,’ and it looked like it was going to happen.”

The McCartney April 28 date at the Spokane Arena was confirmed in early February. “I was like, ‘I’m not going to believe that Paul McCartney is coming to the Spokane Arena until I announce it,’ ” Meyer said.

Well, Meyer did just that Friday, and he’s still buzzing. “We’re so humbled and honored to have Paul McCartney play in our building,” Meyer said. “This is going to be a ride no one on our staff will ever forget. I’m 38, and I can say that I booked a Beatle at our venue.

“You and I have talked about who might be booked here in the future, but I never thought this could happen. This isn’t just incredibly cool for us, it’s very cool for the entire city of Spokane. It’s just so huge for everyone, and I couldn’t be more excited.”

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