Paul McCartney, Good Evening New York City
Macca hits a home run in Citi Field with this invigorating live album
The concerts from which Paul McCartney's seventh live album is derived catch pop's beloved elder at a particularly notable place and time. They occurred at New York's recently completed Citi Field, the ballpark built a home run away from what was Shea Stadium, where the Beatles kicked off a new era of rock spectacles with a record 1965 crowd of 55,600. McCartney's three Citi Field shows drew nearly twice that in July 2009, when anticipation for the 9/9/09 release of both Beatles Rock Band and the Fab Four's remastered catalog was high. McCartney's last solo album, Memory Almost Full, had become his biggest mainstream hit in years (and supplied him with the quartet featured here), while Electric Arguments, his rawest experimental collaboration with Youth as The Fireman, earned him underground kudos. Drawing from those albums, his solo and Wings hits, and monumental Beatles catalog, this two-hour set faithfully recaptures both the simplicity and magnitude of McCartney at the aughts' end.
His arrangements here are humble. The most youthful Beatle had just turned 67, and his voice reflects that. It's emotionally most powerful on the quietest Beatle ballads, like "The Long and Winding Road" and "Blackbird," where the impact of his years deepens the material's intimacy. That's also true of "Here Today," his poignant 1982 tribute to John Lennon's passing. Combining the first half of "A Day in the Life" with the climactic refrain of "Give Peace a Chance" seems like a second eulogy for Lennon and the ’60s in general, and yet a way to keep both alive.
The least expected choices bristle with vitality: Check McCartney's instrumental contribution to Band on the Run's carefree "Mrs Vanderbilt" for further confirmation of his bass guitar artistry. Let It Be's "I've Got a Feeling" fits the loose summer vibe, while "I'm Down" tightens things up. Canny sequencing throughout juxtaposes his softest songs against his hardest: Following "Yesterday" with "Helter Skelter" suggests Macca recognizes that the past wasn't always pretty. Shorn of studio effects, the newest tracks here — Electric Arguments' "Highway" and "Sing the Changes" — straightforwardly rock. McCartney's always had that spontaneous side, and once again it flatters him.