Sunday, January 03, 2010

Paul McCartney: Good Evening New York City

When I heard that McCartney was releasing a CD/DVD of his NYC run of shows last summer I thought that this was probably one too many live releases. After all, Paul’s pattern lately has been tour after releasing a studio album (or, as he’s started doing lately, do a mini-tour) and then release a DVD of the show. He has been using the same band since the 2001 tour to support Driving Rain, his first album after his wife Linda passed away and he’s released four DVDs with this band (not even counting the shorter things like the Memory Almost Full Deluxe Edition or the third disc of the McCartney Years.) So I did not rush right out to buy this one. However, a friend told me that Meijer had Good Evening New York City for $10.99 – that’s for 2 CDs and a DVD – and I couldn’t resist it so I asked Laura to get it for me for Christmas and that’s what happened – it sat waiting for me for as a present along with other DVDs this Christmas.

So I’ve been watching it over the past few days about a half hour at a time and I’ve come to believe that this is perhaps the best live McCartney DVD yet. Here are my reasons:

  • Paul’s in great form – he and the band are playing and singing great. (There has been some Internet complaining about his use of auto-tune but, frankly, I don’t hear it.) They’ve been playing together for nearly a decade and it shows. They’re tight and playful in their playing. I’ve never noticed that Brian Ray is a fine bassist before – a nice bonus for when Paul plays guitar or piano.
  • He does excellent versions of songs he’s done before with some nice twists like jams at the end of “I’ve Got a Feeling” and in the middle of “Paperback Writer.” The version of “Something” is like the one on the Concert for George, where Paul starts with the ukulele but then the band comes in part way through – very nicely done.
  • The set list is very good. Lot so Beatles, of course – nearly the entire second half of the concert is Beatles – but also a very nice selection of solo stuff taken from a large number of his albums. Band on the Run is, of course, well represented with four selections but one of those is the seldom-played “Mrs Vanderbilt.” There are also a few songs from McCartney’s recent Fireman album Electric Arguments as well as Memory Almost Full. Even the Beatles songs have some surprises like “I’m Down” and “A Day in the Life” ended with Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance.” (Credited just to Lennon, by the way, even though the original was officially listed as a Lennon/McCartney song.)
  • This is one of the first DVDs of Paul’s shows that actually just shows the concert rather than having lots of intercut interviews, etc. And this time the focus is on the band rather than showing how much the fans are loving it, unlike some of his other videos. Another annoyance in some of the early videos is the frenetic editing – you never get more than a few seconds on any one band member. This time the pace is about right.

In nearly every way this video is superior to others that he has released lately. Even if, like me, you have many of his videos in your collection, this one is worth getting and if you don’t have any then this is the one you should consider getting, especially considering the price.