What Paul McCartney on the Ed Sullivan Theater Marquee Roof Sounded Like From the Ground


Paul McCartney
Ed Sullivan Theater Marquee Roof
Wednesday, July 15

Like everybody else, the helicopters await Paul. First one, chopping ambiently over Broadway, then two more. When the 67-year old ex-Beatle finally comes onto the marquee roof of the David Letterman-occupied Ed Sullivan Theater a little before 5:30, he waves at them fondly, rooftop crowds, and everybody else. High-pitched screams roll with each move, Beatlemania rendered as comedy.

From half-block, the Jowly One transforms back into the Cute One, just like he was in his last performances at the Sullivan Theater, 45 years ago. He says something like “hello,” the avenue canyon muffling his voice to a Liverpudlian blur. The echoes, too, smooth his band’s session dude perfection into something like analog vitality and when they lay into “Get Back,” the street full of Midwestern tourists and midtown office-ites veritably hops, electrified. One visitor–“we just sort of followed the crowd,” he says–holds his binoculars up to his cell phone camera, man-purse bulging with street maps. Some flash devil horns as Letterman’s camera swoops.

McCartney plays the tease during the half-hour set, hitting his new Fireman single (“Sing The Changes,” translated to Tom Petty jangles by the echo) and some equally screamed-for Wings epics (“Band on the Run”) before he, uh, gets back to the whole Beatles thing. Sir Cuteness rips through “Helter Skelter”–40th anniversary of Manson, too–and a number “for a country that doesn’t exist anymore,” the random phrase floating out of the PA as “Back in the USSR” starts. In every way, it’s pretty cool.