Friday, July 15
Better than: Watching Let It Be.
“Who’s this Derek Jeter guy?” Paul McCartney said after “Jet,” the fourth song the opening night (of two) at Yankee Stadium. “I hear he’s got more hits than me.” That’s debatable, as Macca put in a rather astounding amount of work proving. Dude is 70 years old, almost twice my age, and although his voice got a little scratchy toward the end, that fucker can belt, and in the physical-grace department, my blind guess of his age might have been more like a very agile 50. I could barely stand in front of my center field seat, which proved necessary pretty much the entire time.
Paul reminds people who can afford $275 tickets of their fabulous youth. That’s a lot of youth: the crowd was genuinely intergenerational, and if prices had skewed lower there’d probably have been more kids in our section. There were plenty anyway. Paul must know it, because he began with “Hello Goodbye,” oft-derided as one of his fluffier numbers but completely irresistible to me—a perfect opening storybook opening. He also threw in “Ob-la-di Ob-la-da” near the end of the main set—not counting a pair of three-song encores, he played between 35 and 40 numbers, depending on how you count.
The name of the tour, “On the Run,” has as much to do with the fact that Paul is spending the summer sprinting through stadiums as with the deluxe Band on the Run reissue that came out a few months ago. Band was represented heavily: “Jet,” “Let Me Roll It” (into an instrumental snippet of Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady,” after which Paul retold the oft-related story of Jimi performing “Sgt. Pepper’s” in concert mere days after the album’s release), “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five,” “Mrs. Vanderbilt,” and of course the title warhorse, as sure a showstopper as the man’s catalog contains. But no one was kidding anyone. As it has been for about twice as long as the Beatles were together, this was Beatles Night.
What that tends to mean is that what Paul chose to salt things with were telling, in that reading-his-solo-career kind of way. I admit that I’ve seldom had much interest in reading it—having heard all the albums up to the mid-’80s thanks to my best friend in high school, who loved the Beatles even more than I did (he became a musician, I became a listener), I was never all that enthralled. But give the guy credit for throwing in “Sing the Changes,” from his side project the Fireman (it would have been even cooler if they’d done something off 1993’s Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest, his foray into ambient), and for sticking with “Dance Tonight,” which opened 2007’s Memory Almost Full—a pretty good album, actually. Dude has a little bit left, you know?
Mostly, he seems to be enjoying himself. “I’ve never done this song live—evah!” he roared before diving into “The Night Before,” from Help! The backing visuals could be rote, but occasionally they were witty: for “Paperback Writer,” we got a bunch of Richard Prince’s nurse paintings. Yes, Paul is an ungodly ham at times (so is his drummer, Abe Laboriel, particularly when he spent most of “Dance Tonight” doing moves behind the kit), but for every “Let’s hear it for John!” (before the Lennon tribute “Here Today”) there was something endearing: “I love you, random citizen,” he responded to a call-out. Even if you looked askance at the ticket prices, for three hours, you could believe him.
Critical bias: Changed my life, etc.
Overheard: My companion: “A dude walked by with red velvet boat shoes on. They were amazing.”
Random notebook dump: The opening DJ for this show was pretty good—he played Beatles covers. The coolest part by far was when he dropped Radio Slave’s edit of “Temporary Secretary,” something I never thought I’d hear at Yankee Stadium.
All My Loving
Drive My Car
Sing the Changes
The Night Before [“I’ve never done this song live evah!”—P.M.]
Let Me Roll It / Foxy Lady
The Long and Winding Road
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
Let Him In
Maybe I’m Amazed
I’ve Just Seen a Face
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
I’ve Got a Feeling
A Day in the Life / Give Peace a Chance
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 18, 2011