Sir Paul opened his breathless show with “Eight Days a Week,” a jaunty, Fab Four classic he somehow neglected to sneak onto the set list since it first appeared way back in 1964.
It was just one of a handful of pieces McCartney had long left molting that finally earned a live airing for this tour, dubbed “Out There.” Others included the foppish “Your Mother Should Know,” the sing-along “All Together Now” and the dreamy “Lovely Rita.”
It’s amazing that, with a catalogue more exposed and beloved than any of the last 50 years, McCartney could find something fresh to give fans. It’s equally unlikely, and pleasing, that, as he approaches age 71 (on June 18), he could deliver these songs with such verve and verisimilitude.
That last word proves crucial to understanding a modern Paul McCartney show. It’s an event nearly devoid of personal exploration or artistic stretching. Instead, McCartney puts himself entirely at the audience’s service, dutifully exercising his role as the sole credible conduit to songs that tap the collective memory of nearly everyone on the planet — even the very young.
As usual, McCartney’s show Saturday mixed Fab Four songs with material from Paul’s solo career, as well as his days with Wings. Thankfully, he was careful about the latter. He centered those selections on his greatest post-Beatles work, from 1974’s “Band On the Run,” or hits like “Junior’s Farm.” His take on the latter had all the pep of the power pop original. He proved as adept at harder Beatles songs, like “Paperback Writer” or “We Can Work It Out” as in languorous ballads like “The Long and Winding Road,” or “And I Love Her.”
It helped that McCartney has developed such rapport with his long term backing band, which includes the muscular drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. and spirited guitarist Rusty Anderson. The whole band had the chance to let loose in a segment melding the Wings hit “Let Me Roll It” with Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady.” They delivered the nonstop run of hits with the rigor and clarity of studio recordings. Showing just the barest signs of age, McCartney’s voice remained winningly boyish.
Such faithfulness could have had a sad consequence. It might have made the performers seem like a living diorama, a cold museum instillation. But the clear joy McCartney takes in his beloved catalogue, and the force with which he delivered it, brought this thick slice of history alive.
Paul McCartney's set list:
Eight Days a Week
All My Lovin’
Listen To What the Man Says
Let Me Roll It
Nineteen Hundred And Eighty-Five
The Long and Winding Road
Maybe I’m Amazed
Things We Said Today
We Can Work It Out
Another Day (dedicated to producer Phil Ramone)
And I Love Her
Here Today (dedicated to John Lennon)
Your Mother Should Know
All Together Now
Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite
Something (dedicated to George Harrison)
Band on The Run
Back In the U.S.S.R.
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Hi, Hi, Hi
Carry That Weight
By Jim Farber firstname.lastname@example.org