Thu Jul 16 2009
Photograph: MPL Communications Ltd
Citi Field; Fri 17, Sat 18, Tue 21
In 1965, the Beatles played a chaotic 12-song set in the newly opened Shea Stadium, the first rock concert to be staged at a big open-air sports ground. From somewhere near second base, the quartet performed to more than 55,000 fans, seemingly all of whom were shrieking, possibly because the sound was so excruciatingly earsplitting. Though the band played into a blur, the show set various records in terms of money and attendance, ushering in an era in which the world’s most successful musicians perform in arenas designed for athletes.
The realities of this new model ultimately helped to push the Beatles off the road. Yet Paul McCartney, the man of a thousand melodies but not a drop of angst, feels no such qualms: This week he becomes the first singer to headline the Mets’ new home. His old band’s Shea performances were full of the hope, infancy and mystery intrinsic to their era, right down to the city’s new ball club. These concerts, steeped in long-ago glories and a yearning for vanished youth, take place in a ritzy stadium named for a busted bank. McCartney has nothing to prove—his legacy is forever bronzed as a Beatle—and, as a consequence, his muse went missing years ago. Yet he remains a sturdy and amiable live performer, constantly eager to please his crowd, an anxious party host with British manners. After all these years, what Paul McCartney desires is a Queens ballpark full of fans, applauding his golden tunes.—Jay Ruttenberg