Music Review: Paul McCartney's "Good Evening New York City" CD

12/02/2009 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Sarah Vaynerman

If Paul McCartney's goal was to invoke copious amounts of nostalgia in 120,000 raring fans over this summer's three-night concert at Citi Field, which is the New York Mets' new ballpark, consider it a massive success. Those who weren't fortunate enough to witness "Good Evening New York City" live on July 17, 18, and 21 can get a taste of the 33-track experience through the 2-CD/DVD set released two weeks ago. It features an extremely well-rounded collection from McCartney's career, ranging from Beatles chestnuts like "Hey Jude" and "Let it Be" to Wings classics "Jet" and "Live and Let Die" to such solo numbers as a roaring rendition of "Sing the Changes" to close out Disc 1 as "The Fireman."

The 67-year old McCartney exceeded ageist expectations by rocking out onstage harder than most men half his age could in their wildest dreams, showing nary a sign of fatigue. Those of us who have seen Bob Dylan live in the last couple of years, for example, know that even the greatest icons are susceptible to losing their shine toward the end of an otherwise legendary career. But not McCartney. Jumping around the stage with his guitar, vocals strong as ever, he is nothing if not a crowd-pleaser at his best--even in the pouring rain.

It's important to note that this CD stands out against his five other live releases for its location, timing, and sentimental value--the Beatles' groundbreaking performance at Shea Stadium 44 years prior, at the height of Beatlemania, set a precedent for outdoor stadium concerts. This time out, Sir Paul honored both his mop-top bandmates and devoted fans by playing the first show at the new Citi Field. The big difference between the CDs and the DVD (other than the obvious, rich visuals) is that viewers of the DVD are privy to Macca's intertrack-track commentary and anecdotes whereas the CDs are limited to the music. Watch the DVD in its entirety for the experience before making judgments on the tracks themselves--it was a live show, after all, and should be treated like one.

For some, the show may have relied too heavily on catalog hits with the same ol' songs he's done at live shows in the past, but McCartney sprinkled the set with enough intimate and more obscure tracks to quiet those critics. To complement the obvious favorites that concertgoers were expecting to hear during the shows, McCartney treats us to a few pleasant surprises such as "Day Tripper," which had been dormant since the '60s, and included "I'm Down" as the only throwback from the Shea Stadium show. He kills "Helter Skelter," a number never before featured on an authorized live album, and brings back the Wings' "Mrs. Vandebilt." Tributes to his lost loved ones had weeping fans singing along to "Here Today" and "A Day in the Life/Give Peace a Chance" as they remembered John Lennon, and he honored George Harrison by playing his own Ukulele to "Something." He dedicates "My Love" to the one or two romantics left in New York City, a song he wrote for his late wife and Wings bandmate Linda.

McCartney's crack band deserves significant praise for supporting him flawlessly throughout the three-night extravaganza, and Billy Joel made a special appearance for "I Saw Her Standing There" to reciprocate McCartney's help in closing out Shea Stadium the summer before.

There's a dull rumble on the Internets accusing the album of being too auto-tuned, but those are the audio-snobs talking. There's no use in faulting McCartney for the producers' obliging to commercial demand and in "Good Evening New York City"'s case, it is not even recognizable to an ear that hasn't been classically trained. This isn't T-Payne we are talking about--it's Sir Paul effin McCartney and we can all agree that he has incredible musical talent.

"Good Evening New York City" is an outstanding live album whose set list runs the gamut of tracks spanning nearly 50 years. Any non-cynical fan will enjoy it.

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  1. Annie Daly said...

    Yes! PMC may be an older man in a younger man's game, but talent trumps all. Always. All men were NOT created equal!

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