Live photos/review: Paul McCartney at Yankee Stadium
Tue Jul 19 2011
Photograph: Jon Klemm
"Who is this Derek Jeter guy?" Paul McCartney asked a throng numbering in the tens of thousands at Yankee Stadium on Friday night. "Somebody said he's got more hits than me."
If there's anyone in the entire pop-music world who needn't stoop to self-deprecating humor, it's surely Sir Paul: at 69 among the planet's most revered living singers and songwriters, and an enviably trim, tousled and vivacious stage presence of enduring appeal. Among the tributes that could be laid at McCartney's feet by the end of a show roughly three hours in duration is that he never phoned in a single moment. (He repeated the feat on Saturday night, during which show Jon Klemm snapped the vivid photos posted above.) Nearly everything McCartney did felt genuine, and all of it seemed to be about as much fun for him as it was for his band and audience.
Complete review and set list after the jump.
That band included the same four punchy players who joined McCartney for his last stadium romps at Citi Field (and a more intimate show at the Apollo Theater): guitarists Brian Ray and Rusty Anderson, keyboardist Paul Wickens and the indisputable MVP: drummer, backing singer and all-around spark plug Abe Laboriel Jr. Presumably the audience included a large contingent present at Citi Field, too; somewhere, hidden among the throngs on the stadium floor and flanked by a cadre of security guards and police officers, was Mayor Bloomberg, glimpsed briefly as he made his escape during the second encore—not a bad show of marathon endurance.
The generous set touched all the usual bases, including Beatles hits, Wings singles, solo tracks and a bit from McCartney's pseudonymous indie stint as the Fireman. Still, there were surprises. "The Night Before," McCartney claimed, was a song he'd never performed live before, ever. (A murmur at being present for history, even relatively trivial, could be heard among audience members.) Also newly restored to the set was "Maybe I'm Amazed," still one of McCartney's most gripping post-Beatles creations, given a performance that seemed ageless.
Nor was McCartney's stage show without refreshing quirks beyond the de rigueur (and hella impressive) flashpots and fireworks during "Live and Let Die." Barely discernible on an overhead screen during the Fireman cut "Sing the Changes" was a weirdly psychedelicized portrait of President Obama, while "Paperback Writer" came accompanied by oversize projections of Richard Prince's nurse series. In "Lady Madonna," McCartney's gallery of distaff icons ranged from the Mona Lisa, Mother Teresa and Jackie O. to Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe and the Queen Mum.
The most touching moments during the show came in instances when McCartney indulged in personal reminiscences. He introduced "Here Today," a tribute to John Lennon, as an imaginary conversation with his fallen friend. "Something" started as a humble ukulele ballad on an instrument given to McCartney by George Harrison, before morphing into a full-blown band performance. And as at Citi Field (and thus preserved on record and DVD), "Let Me Roll It" culminated in a "Purple Haze" tag, followed with a ramshackle remebrance of Jimi Hendrix, who, McCartney related, learned the title cut from "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band" the week the LP was released, and played it onstage that weekend—badly out of tune, but so what?
Yankee Stadium, unlike Citi Field, didn't get that particular song. Still, Beatles fans left satisfied—not least with a rendition of "Eleanor Rigby" during which, if only for a moment, high times and frivoloity were forced aside by the sheer gravity of McCartney's stature. Moments like that were fleeting, but added profoundly to what was otherwise the friendliest, hookiest lark in town.
All My Loving
Drive My Car
Sing the Changes
The Night Before
Let Me Roll It > Purple Haze
The Long and Winding Road
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
Let 'Em 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