More than four decades after his music helped turn the pop world on its ear, Paul McCartney can still pack them in like few others.

Tens of thousands gathered on the Halifax Common on Saturday night as McCartney performed his lone Canadian concert of the year.

From the opening chord of Drive My Car, the 67-year-old former Beatle had the crowd eating out of his hand.

Mixed crowd

Middle-aged couples, teens and children cheered as McCartney walked onto a massive stage erected in the giant green space in the centre of Halifax to play some of the most revered songs in all of pop and rock.

Angela Loughead, a lifelong Beatles fan from Truro, N.S., reminisced about listening to her older brother's albums of the pop foursome.

"I would have gone anywhere in Canada to see him," she said.

'It's the Beatles for heaven's sake.'—McCartney fan Jim Johnson

In the end, Loughead only had to travel an hour to Halifax to see McCartney in person — a fact that was still hard to grasp Saturday.

But without John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, she said McCartney's concert would be bittersweet.

"I never dreamed I would actually be able to see him," she said before the show. "It will be emotional because it's just him instead of all of them as it should be."

Hours before McCartney took the stage, thousands of fans lined up outside the park anxiously waiting for the gates to open.

Even people without tickets stopped to watch McCartney as he treated the crowd to a lengthy sound check that included Yesterday and Lady Madonna.

Marcia Ward, who secured one of the first spots at the front of the line, said she'd been waiting all her life to see McCartney.

"I was born on his ninth birthday and I've been a fan since I was 13 years old," said Ward, 58.

Ward said she flew in from Indiana on Thursday night and went straight to the concert site where she camped out for two nights. She said the ground was hard, but the uncomfortable nights were well worth it.

Wintersleep, Joel Plaskett opening acts

Before McCartney's performance, Halifax rockers Wintersleep warmed up the massive crowd under a cloudless sky.

They were followed by Nova Scotia singer-songwriter Joel Plaskett. As the hours wore on before McCartney's big entrance, fans shared their memories of the Beatles and spoke of their favourite songs.

Adele Johnson of Stellarton, N.S., said she vividly recalls watching the Beatles' first North American television appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, while an undergraduate living in residence.

Johnson said she and her husband, Jim, don't usually attend outdoor concerts, but they made an exception for McCartney.

"It's our generation, it's the Beatles for heaven's sake, what else can you say," said Jim Johnson. "I'm sure this place will just be rocking."