The genius of Paul McCartney's songwriting is in making complicated emotions and situations sound simple. The genius of his live show is how he makes the mundane sound fresh – not just in his music, but in his banter with the audience.
During a bit at last night's show, at Yankee Stadium, where he talks about how hard it is for him not to read the signs the audience holds up while he sings because they often distract him, McCartney came across a sign that said, “Hey Paul! I'm Jude!” Without missing a beat, he offered as dryly as possible, “Hey Jude!”
That's comedy gold. (So was his venue-appropriate joke: “By the way, who's this Derek Jeter guy? Someone said he has more hits than me!”)
But that's nothing to the way the 69-year-old rock veteran freshens up his well-worn catalog in concert. While he's always been careful not to tinker too much with his classics to make them unrecognizable to fans, McCartney never fails to show off his considerable musical chops or those of his impressive band.
McCartney turned “Helter Skelter” into rock so heavy Soundgarden couldn't lift it. He turned “I've Just Seen a Face” into sprightly alt-country. And he turned up the Eastern European influence of “Mrs. Vandebilt,” which he said they loved in the Ukraine.
Well, who wouldn't? Nearly everything in the 165-minute show was lovable and, in a true testament to his beyond-superstar status, McCartney could do an equally gripping, equally lengthy show with a whole different set of his songs.
Maybe he will tonight when he returns for his second night.
SETLIST: Hello, Goodbye / Junior's Farm / All My Loving / Jet / Drive My Car / Sing the Changes / The Night Before / Let Me Roll It/Foxy Lady / Paperback Writer / The Long and Winding Road / Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five / Let 'Em In / Maybe I'm Amazed / I've Just Seen a Face / I Will / Blackbird / Here Today / Dance Tonight / Mrs. Vandebilt / Eleanor Rigby / Something / Band on the Run / Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da / Back in the U.S.S.R / I've Got a Feeling / A Day in the Life / Give Peace a Chance / Let It Be / Hey Jude // ENCORE: Lady Madonna / Day Tripper / Get Back // ENCORE 2: Yesterday / Helter Skelter / Medley: Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End
CELEBRITIES SPOTTED: Mayor Michael Bloomberg, McCartney's fiancee Nancy Shevell, and Alec Baldwin said he was on his way, though we didn't actually see him