Paul McCartney - Good Evening New York City

2010-07-06 16:18
Good Evening New York City

"I went over to my friend George's house" (yaaaaaayyyy)... "I wrote this for Linda" (yaaaaaayyyyy) ... "You know this song I wrote about John" (yaaaaaayyy)... "We released Pepper on Friday, and on Sunday we all went to see Jimi." (yaaaaaayyyy).

Indeed, is it really defensible to criticise a guy who single-handedly wrote more popular music than any other living person? The short answer is no.

But the long answer is that if you get paid for finding flaws, you will. And so it’s best to get the downside out the way first...

The most disappointing aspect of the whole deal is the band. Macca has stuck with compact five-piece outfit, relegating classic orchestrations and such to what sounds like either programmed or synthesised replacements. It works a lot of the time, but not always. For example, "The Long and Winding Road" is good enough, but "My Love" strangely isn't.

Furthermore, somebody should have fronted for a few backup singers. With respect to Macca’s band of competent musicians, the vocal requirements of his heyday seem a bit beyond a murder of rock n rollers in their thirties and forties (in Mac's case, he occasionally does get up there, despite being in his sixties).

As it turns out, the concert looks rather like that of a band that didn’t have the time to make a huge go of it, and got up there to play before they realised that a gajillion people were going to show up. Which they did. The band just came to play the tunes, and so they do. Not badly, but not for a stadium of tens of thousands.

And then, suddenly, it all turns around. The concert kicks into gear in the second half, starting with "I'm Down" which features a bizarre cross-cut between The Beatles at Shea in '65 and Macca today. It is bizarre because it doesn't happen anywhere else in the concert, and just seems like an oddity, placed in the middle of nowhere to catch you off-guard. No matter, it really works and will no doubt be a favourite part of the DVD for many.

Actually, the song more than suggests that Paul McCartney is still just a lad who loves rock n' roll. The up-tempo rockers are his obvious delight – cue “Back in the USSR”, “Helter Skelter”, and a superb "I Saw Her Standing There", featuring a walk-on Billy Joel, obviously taking a break from the backstage jol.

But the highlight by far is a rendition of Paul's Bond song "Live and Let Die". It’s the one point of the show that looks like money's been spent on it, delivering energetic performance, a crap load of pyro, and a suitably shocked (and singed) front row.

Elsewhere, McCartney does pepper the 2 and a half-hour show with Beatles classics (see what I did there?) - notably those that he mostly wrote, "A Day in the Life" excepted. These songs are not surprisingly the most singable of that famous repertoire.

And on that subject, most interesting are the latter-day Beatles tracks like "Got to Get You into My Life" and the aforementioned "Long and Winding Road", which are so essentially Macca, that they don't miss John, George and Ringo... at all.

For his part, especially when he’s on those classics, Macca looks like he's thinking about another time, another place a million miles away, but that's ok. If you remember these songs, you probably will be too.

Macca, arguably the greatest popular songwriter of the modern age, is by and large beyond criticism. Any artist who can entertain stadium crowds with anecdotes about his friends, calling them only by their first names and getting complete recognition in return, has deserved his place in musicology.

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Preshen Govender 2010/07/07 4:22 PM
  • Rating:
I loved the part where he stage dived
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