Live: Paul McCartney Lets It Be (and/or Lives and Lets Die) at Not-Shea-Stadium


No Billie Joel cameo this time, which is fine, fine, fine

Paul McCartney
Citi Field
Tuesday, July 21

I’d like to publicly thank the usher in section 314 for physically blocking my path to the bathroom during the opening strains of “Live and Let Die” because he didn’t want me to miss the fireworks. I suppose I should also apologize for the solid 15 seconds wherein I had no idea what he was talking about.

“You don’t want to do that.”
“You don’t want to do that.”
“I don’t want to go to the bathroom?”
“You’ll miss the fireworks.”
“The what?”
“The fireworks.”
[Longish interval.] “Oh.”

And verily was there hella pyro during “Live and Let Die,” pentecostal flames at the foot of the stage and several home runs’ worth of airborne screamers, certainly a chaste display compared to, like, Metallica or something but a notable anomaly for Sir Paul, who generally opts for goofy video-screen action (roller coasters for “Helter Skelter”! Richard Prince nurses during “Paperback Writer”!) and leaves it at that. In this ever-changing world in which we live in, his only real visual innovation these days is tantalizing Beatles: Rock Band footage.

So you should probably see Paul McCartney once in your life: the most appealing super-corny musician of all time, a bubbling fount of goofy guilelessness even at 67, slipping just a few tunes from that new Fireman record (“Sing the Changes” is unexpectedly stirring) in amongst the hits, the hits, the hits. Obvious crowd favorite: “Back in the U.S.S.R.” Less obvious crowd favorite: Wings’ “Let Me Roll It,” wherein an immediate blast of second-hand smoke in section 314 leads me to believe I’ve been badly misinterpreting that song all this time. Tear-jerker: the Lennon tribute “Here Today.” Notable absence: a Michael Jackson tribute. Sample stage banter: “Are you havin’ fun? So are we!” Cheesiest juxtaposition: “A Day in the Life” into “Give Peace a Chance.”

You might even ask for more such cheesiness: Leading an arena-minded but underpowered five-piece band, the exuberant horn blasts of “Got to Get You Into My Life” all relegated to one dude with a synthesizer, this ain’t exactly a Fiery Furnaces concert in terms of radical innovation: Only his longtime ukulele tribute to George on “Something” stands out (my one companion loved it; my two others derided it as “the Don Ho version.”) But if anyone can still thrill you by singing exactly what you’d expect exactly how you’d expect him to, it’s the guy who does “Blackbird,” “Yesterday,” “Hey Jude,” etc. etc. etc. “Let It Be” kills me every time, unapologetic in its earnest grandeur, with no need for fireworks to get it over, an no need for a benevolent usher to convince me to stick around.