Live: Paul McCartney, New York City
New York City is arguably the world’s biggest stage for any music artist, and when a legend like Paul McCartney wants to kick off a tour in the Big Apple he needs an outta-site venue, the best of the best. So McCartney took over brand-new Yankee Stadium for a two-night stand over the weekend and launched his “On The Run” tour, which right now has scheduled stops in only four more U.S. cities.
We caught Sir Paul’s second night in NYC, and the 69-year-old former Beatle turned in a musical marathon performance that would make Bruce Springsteen proud. McCartney played Beatles classics, Wings favorites and some choice selections from his recent past, doing about 36 songs during a three-hour show. Opening with “Magical Mystery Tour,” McCartney was in fine voice and only three songs in, he rekindled Beatlemania with a rousing version of “All My Loving,” from 1963.
Jesus, are these songs really about a half century old? That didn’t stop the audience – including an awful lot of kids born after Wings, not to mention the Beatles – from singing along. McCartney pulled out “The Night Before,” from Help!, which he explained he hasn’t performed live until this tour.
“Paperback Writer” rocked, and even the Wings warhorse “Let Me Roll It” spiraled into a short instrumental cover of “Foxey Lady,” which McCartney dedicated to Jimi Hendrix.
Sir Paul also didn’t forget to remember his fallen bandmates, following a sublime “Eleanor Rigby” with George Harrison’s “Something,” which got one of the biggest ovations of the night. McCartney also remembered his dear friend John Lennon with “Here Today” and a rousing “A Day In The Life,” morphing into “Give Peace A Chance.”
If there was a surprise for the night, to me it was the five songs from the Beatles’ White Album: “Back In The U.S.S.R.,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “I Will,” “Helter Skelter” and “Blackbird,” which McCartney explained was written in response to the U.S. civil rights movement during the 1960s. He also did five more from another album, Band On The Run: the title song, “Let Me Roll It,” “Jet,” “Mrs. Vanderbilt” and “Nineteen Hundred Eighty Four.”
The encore guest shot by Billy Joel on “I Saw Her Standing There” was a surprise only if you believed the beer-line rumors of appearances by Elton John, Bono and the Edge or even Bruce Springsteen. Wishful thinking, but McCartney didn’t need any help.
Armed with easily the greatest catalog in the history of rock, McCartney could have sleepwalked through this show and still given everyone their money’s worth. But he came out rocking, never leaving the stage even while his younger bandmates took a few breaks, playing a dizzying variety of instruments and hitting pretty much every note like it was 1969 all over again. In fact, I thought he was in much better voice than he exhibited on the 2009 live CD/DVD Good Evening New York City – simply amazing.
By the time the full moon started to peek over the upper bleachers of Yankee Stadium, McCartney’s show was nearing its third hour with the standards “Let It Be,” “Hey Jude,” “Get Back” and the fireworks exploding around “Live And Let Die.”
With the final song lyrics “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make” still echoing in our ears, we hit the subway to go from the Bronx back to Manhattan. And there in the Herald Square subway station, playing their hearts out after midnight, was a live band doing “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” A nice end to a great night of rock and roll.
YouTube: “Maybe I’m Amazed” from Yankee Stadium
YouTube: “I Saw Her Standing There” with Billy Joel