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McCartney belts out hits at Yankee Stadium

Paul McCartney performs in concert at Yankee Stadium

Paul McCartney performs in concert at Yankee Stadium in New York. (July 15, 2011) Credit: AP

If rock 'n' roll were Major League Baseball, there's no doubt Paul McCartney would be its New York Yankees.

Sure, there's his track record as rock's biggest and most dependable artist for nearly five decades. Yeah, he still proves rockers can age gracefully and grow even when they have nothing left to prove. And, oh right, there's all those hits.

Maybe that's why McCartney looked so at home at Friday night's show at Yankee Stadium, which was the third area ballpark he has christened for music, following the legendary Beatles event at Shea Stadium in 1965, as well as playing the first Citi Field concert in 2009. (He plays Yankee Stadium again Saturday.)

The sold-out crowd responded by chanting his name stadium-style. McCartney responded with baseball humor.

"By the way, who's this Derek Jeter guy?" McCartney asked. "Someone said he has more hits than me!"

His sprawling set balanced those hits with some surprises, including what he said was the first public performance of The Beatles' chestnut "The Night Before," tacking on a bit of Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" onto "Let Me Roll It" and adding John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" to "A Day in the Life."

Of course, McCartney never fails to please with the raucous "Live and Let Die," complete with fireworks over the stadium, and the set-closing sing-along "Hey Jude," which also ended with fireworks.

But McCartney's shows continue to show his personal and musical growth. He offered gracious tributes to Lennon and George Harrison, including a sweet ukulele version of "Something." He also turned the end of "I've Got a Feeling" into a James Brown throwdown and offered up a bit from his experimental albums as The Fireman.

That's what keeps people coming back -- the mix of the familiar and the surprising.

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