Nearly two years after his sold out, two-night concert set at CitiField in Queens, Liverpool’s favorite son, Sir Paul McCartney, made his triumphant return to the Big Apple this past weekend for another two-night set, this time at Yankee Stadium.
McCartney, now a spry 69 year old, stood in front of a crowd of 40,000 plus in the Bronx last Friday with his famous Hofner bass in hand. As he waved to the crowd, comprised of adults, teenagers, and even young children experiencing their first ‘Macca’ concert, his very presence on stage seemed surreal.
Even at his age, McCartney played with the flair of a teenager and sang his lyrics in the same heartfelt tone he did 46 years ago during his first trip to the United States with The Beatles. Whether he played one of his many guitars, his famous bass, a ukulele, or a mandolin, McCartney was marvelous throughout. Thirty-five songs later fans were left stunned by the seemingly endless energy of Sir Paul.
Without saying a word, McCartney and his band began the show under the setting sun with “Hello, Goodbye,” the hit Beatles track, before diving right into “Junior’s Farm,” one of the many hits produced during his time with the band Wings.
“Who is this Derek Jeter guy,” McCartney said in jest following in between the first and second songs. “Somebody said he’s got more hits than me.”
McCartney belted out “All My Loving,” one of his first hit singles with The Beatles, then rocked out to “Jet” and “Drive My Car” before taking a minor break.
“This next song is one we have never played live before,” McCartney noted much to the delight of the crowd, “and it’s an old one I think you’ll like. First time ever, just for you, New York. With a quick little skiffle riff, McCartney and his band began “The Night Before,” one of the Beatles’ more underappreciated tunes from the early years.
McCartney’s set included many of his usual live songs, including “Let It Be,” “Lady Madonna,” “Paperback Writer,” “Yesterday,” and of course possibly his most popular hit, “Hey Jude,” which concluded with a three-minute crowd sing-along of the famous “na-na-na-na, Hey Jude” chorus.
In two of the night’s truly touching moments, Paul paid homage to his two friends John Lennon and George Harrison.
First, he sang “Here Today,” a tune he wrote after the passing of Lennon in 1980. The song, written in the style of a conversation McCartney never had the pleasure of having with Lennon before his death, was touching.
A visibly upset McCartney held back tears as he sang the most heart-wrenching tune he ever wrote. “And if I said I really loved you and was glad you came along,” sang McCartney, “you were here today, because you were in my song.”
Not long after, Sir Paul paid tribute to his boyhood friend George Harrison by singing one of George’s own songs and a Beatle classic: “Something.” Starting out on ukulele and finally concluding with a full band rendition, McCartney sang the tune with the same honest, passionate tone as Harrison had until his death in 2001, as pictures of he and George from their years with The Beatles flashed on the video screen on the stage.
McCartney struck the last notes of the night with “The End” a beautifully philosophical way: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
McCartney’s boundless energy and raw songwriting talents will be cherished long after he is gone. At 69 years young, Paul McCartney still has the ability to melt hearts and capture imaginations like no other, making songs recorded over 50 years ago seem as relevant as they ever could be.
There are not many musicians alive who can mix talent, fun, and warmth into their concerts the way Paul McCartney can, and for that reason alone, a Paul McCartney concert is not just an event, but the experience of a lifetime.
John Lopiano can be reached at email@example.com.