Good Evening New York City
First Appeared in The Music Box, February 2010, Volume 17, #2
Written by John Metzger
Wed February 10, 2010, 06:30 AM CST
Apparently, Paul McCartney has discovered the mythical fountain of youth. Despite the curveballs that life has thrown his way in recent years — the death of his first wife as well as a bitter divorce from her successor — he has looked younger and exhibited greater energy every time he has taken to the road. For McCartney, time appears to be marching in reverse.
Good Evening New York City, McCartney’s latest adventure, dutifully documents his three-night engagement in mid-July at the newly opened Citi Field. The venue is situated just a hop, skip, and jump from Shea Stadium where he and the rest of The Beatles turned rock concerts into mammoth spectacles. In 2008, McCartney had helped Billy Joel close Shea Stadium. Not surprisingly, by the time that he ventured into Citi Field, his emotions were running on overdrive. Barely able to contain himself, McCartney nearly broke down in the midst of delivering Here Today, his ode to John Lennon. When Joel joined McCartney this time to add piano and vocals to I Saw Her Standing There, the mood became intensely joyous. Fueled by its inherent slate of memories as well as an obvious dose of introspection, Good Evening New York City is most certainly the strongest live album of McCartney’s career.
Of course, McCartney is no stranger to performing lengthy concerts or, for that matter, committing them to tape. After all, not only is Good Evening New York City the sixth live album that he has issued since he resumed touring in 1989, but also the triple-LP set Wings over America and its companion concert film Rockshow — both of which emphasized material from his mid-’70s jaunt around the globe — have long been staples in his canon. Not surprisingly, there is some redundancy among these efforts. Once again, Good Evening New York City returns to familiar ground by replaying several tunes that have held prominent positions in McCartney’s shows over the years — Hey Jude, Get Back, Band on the Run, and Yesterday, among them. Yet, the only time when the pacing of the show suffered was when McCartney lingered at his piano too long by following The Long and Winding Road with My Love.
Sparked by his first-rate backing band — most notably drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr. — McCartney delivered everything with the fiery flair of his youth. There is no doubt that the shows at Citi Field were highly rehearsed and heavily scripted, and for the most part, the songs’ arrangements adhered closely to their studio counterparts. Yet, the way in which McCartney carried himself on stage — chatting with the crowd, interacting with his collaborators, and using an instrumental rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s Foxy Lady as the coda to Let Me Roll It — leant his performance the illusion of spontaneity. The nod to Hendrix also helped to fuel the excitement when he later raged through Day Tripper and Helter Skelter as well as the concert’s crunchy finale, which paired Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with The End. This is a neat trick to have pulled off, especially from someone who very easily could have waltzed through the concerts without exerting himself and still sent many people home quite satisfied.
With albums like Memory Almost Full and his recent endeavor Electric Arguments, which resurrected his side project The Fireman, McCartney has regained his focus in the recording studio. Nevertheless, armed with the knowledge that most of his fans are present to hear him perform familiar songs, McCartney leaned only sparingly on his new material. Having too many hit singles to tackle in one night is a luxury most performers would love to have. Throughout the show, McCartney continuously tapped into his seemingly endless bag of tricks, dusting off the jaunty Mrs. Vanderbilt, fusing A Day in the Life with Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance, and basking in the warm, spiritual hue of Let It Be.
The rapid-fire, MTV-style editing as well as the heavy emphasis on various members of the audience during the video portion of Good Evening New York City ought to be annoying. Initially, these issues seem to mar the proceedings. In the end, though, the effect of these various intrusions ultimately bolsters the strength and magnanimousness of McCartney’s performance. In capturing the exhilarating yet carefree experience of the concert, home viewers are left with the feeling that they actually were part of the celebration.
Of Further Interest...
Good Evening New York City is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
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