Assorted Thoughts on Paul McCartney at Citi Field

28500774-28500779-slargeOlder bands and musicians tend to be hit-or-miss: Witnessing The Rolling Stones’ lackluster performance in 2005 started me thinking this way. Accordingly, I came into last night’s (July 18) Paul McCartney concert (my first McCartney concert) a bit skeptical. I shouldn’t have been: The concert was excellent. You can see a traditional review and the set list here. Now, some of my own observations:

-The set list went from disappointing (only three of the first nine songs were Beatles’ songs) to great. In the end, 19 of the 33 songs (a long set indeed) were Beatles’ songs. Wings’ hits like “Live and Let Die” and “Jet” were performed excellently as well. Of the Beatles’ songs, there was a solid mix. The first encore got us back to earlier stuff such as “Day Tripper” (the first Beatles’ song I really loved) and “I Saw Her Standing There.” The “A Day in the Life/Give Peace a Chance” combination was phenomenal, but perhaps the best performance compared to its album version was “Back in the U.S.S.R”: It was extremely upbeat and McCartney’s vocals particularly stood out. In fact, throughout the night McCartney’s vocals were incredible. The fact he could sing all-out on “Helter Skelter”—the 31st song performed—was amazing.

-McCartney has a unique stage presence. I’ve always had a distaste for Steven Tyler’s or Mick Jagger’s ostentatious stage antics: For them, it seems as if running around and making a fuss is just as big a part of the show as the actual music. For McCartney, his facial expressions and stage presence are all related to the music. He boyishly bobs his head to “Lady Madonna,” shakes his hands frantically after especially taxing songs, and puts his hand on his heart for the particularly emotional ones. It’s all about the music.

I don’t generally like fireworks, but they were employed in the most optimal way I’ve ever seen at this concert. After the first bunch of “live and let dies” (at 38 seconds in the video below) during the “Live and Let Die” performance, fireworks start in conjunction with the shift to the instrumentals.

-Blind audience repetition of bands and musicians is disturbing. I’m fine with a song like “Hey Jude” where audience members recite the “Na Na Nas” independently out of passion for the song. But, multiple times during the concert, McCartney would say things like “Oh yeah” or make odd doglike sounds and the audience would blindly repeat after him. Just as I don’t like how the Pledge reflects conformity, I don’t like the mentality of mass obedience this sort of behavior represents. Suffice it to say, “Mrs. Vanderbilt” is not one of my favorite McCartney songs.

-Following McCartney’s appearance with Billy Joel at Shea Stadium last year, McCartney brought Joel on for a cameo this time around. While it was nice to see Joel, I was glad that McCartney utilized him as little as possible (Joel just played piano and had barely audible vocals for “I Saw Her Standing There”).

-You really could sense the dynamism of McCartney during this concert. He went from the ballad “Yesterday” to the hard rock “Helter Skelter” with little difficulty. Contrasting songs like “Blackbird” with “Live and Let Die” and “Paperback Writer” demonstrates the incredible range of music that McCartney wrote.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Dan on July 18, 2009 at 4:38 PM

    He’s been doing the fireworks with Live and Let Die for years, as well as the audience involvement in the na-na-na’s in Hey Jude (which when I was younger, I always thought was fun – “he’s talking to me and telling me to sing”).

    The “oh yea’s” bit was new.


  2. […] We blogged about Paul McCartney this week and, so, it’s fitting to reccomend this fascinating interview with the Beatles’ sound engineer Geoff Emerick. His memoir/account of his time with the Beatles, Here, There, and Everywhere, is highly reccomended. […]


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