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Dreams come true for Paul McCartney fans

It took a half-century, but Debbie Hagen’s dream finally came true Thursday night.

She was going to see Paul McCartney perform his music in concert.

Hagen, 62, of Lockport was 13 in August 1966 when the Beatles performed in Toronto. She had begged her parents to take her, but they didn’t like the Beatles’ music, or their long hair.

“I remember sitting in the car with my little transistor radio with my little old-school ear thing, listening to all the preconcert stuff going on just crying my eyes out,” she said.

Hagen was crying again Thursday night, just before entering First Niagara Center with her husband, Jack, for McCartney’s sold-out show, his first appearance in Buffalo. But these were tears of joy.

“I can’t believe it,” she said softly.

“She’s crying already,” replied her smiling husband.

McCartney’s more than five decades of music, beginning with the Beatles, has played a big role in her life, especially as a youngster at home.

“They helped me through a lot of rough times in my life growing up with domestic violence,” she said. “They didn’t call it that then. That kind of music got me through the rough times and it helped me through the good times, so what more could you ask for?”

“Silly Love Songs” was stuck in her head for 20 hours when she was in labor with her first son. “So now whenever I hear that, I think I’m a new mom with my baby,” she said.

And her second son picked the Beatles’ classic “In My Life” for their mother-son dance at his wedding.

She was beginning to think she’d have to travel to Toronto or Pittsburgh for a chance at finally seeing McCartney, one of two Beatles still living. The couple saw Ringo Starr at Artpark last year. So she jumped at the chance for tickets when McCartney’s show was announced in August.

“The fact that it’s right here in Buffalo, it’s like, ‘Forget it. We’re getting the best seats,’ ” she said.

Their seats were in Section 116. Hagen said she had no expectations.

“I hope he comes up and gives me a hug,” she said. “That’s what I want. Any song will do. Anything, anything, anything.”

Many other McCartney first-timers had similar stories about near-miss opportunities to see him in person.

Carl Camardo, 44, of East Amherst, had a ticket to see McCartney in Toronto in 1993, but he was called in to work at what was then Pilot Field.

“They needed my help so I gave up my ticket and thought I’ll see him the next year or the year after, but never got a chance until today,” he said.

After 22 years, he said, “It’s finally coming off the bucket list.” Camardo said he hoped to hear “the classics” but mostly he was impressed McCartney is still on the road touring at 73.

“I’m still in awe that the guy is that age and here he is doing a full tour and still doing it after all these years,” he said. “That’s what I’m expecting to see – what I’m in awe of – is to see him put on this show.”

He was also impressed by the concertgoers’ wide range of ages. “You see the different ages here,” he said. “People like good music no matter when they grew up.”

That younger generation included Millie Topper, 13, of East Amherst, who was brought to the concert by her parents, Jon and Jessica.

“We introduced our daughter to the Beatles pretty much from the minute she was born and she’s been a fan ever since,” said Jon, who also manages Buffalo band moe.

Although right-handed, Millie is teaching herself to play guitar left-handed, like Paul. “He’s an inspiration,” said Jessica.

Millie was asked what song she most wanted to hear and said “Live and Let Die,” the theme song from the 1973 James Bond film.

Her father was asked the same question and said, “I want her to hear ‘Live and Let Die,’ if that’s what she wants to hear.”

Mike Worden of the Town of Tonawanda and his mother, Carolyn, were first in line at First Niagara Center before doors opened for their first McCartney show. He was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the Beatles logo and the Union Jack.

Worden said he would like to hear the Wings’ classic “Band on the Run.”

But, no doubt like many grown men in the arena Thursday night, he was mainly hoping “not to make a complete fool out of myself jumping up and down like some teenage girl screaming for a boy band. I’m trying to be strong.”

email: jpopiolkowski@buffnews.com

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