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Paul McCartney plays Queens high school

Paul McCartney promotes his forthcoming album

Paul McCartney promotes his forthcoming album "New" with a secret show at the Frank Sinatra School of Performing Arts Wednesday. (Oct. 9, 2013) Photo Credit: MJ KIM/MPL Communications

Paul McCartney faced a crowd of screaming teens in Queens again.

But unlike the first time — nearly 50 years ago, when 3,000 of them skipped school to greet The Beatles at John F. Kennedy Airport — Wednesday's event was part of the curriculum. McCartney was the special guest at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, as the school's founder Tony Bennett watched from the wings, for a special concert and Q&A session with the students.

The event was recorded and filmed for a special that will air on Clear Channel radio stations and stream on Yahoo at 9 p.m. Monday, the night before McCartney's album "New" is released.

"This beats going to class," McCartney told the students, after playing "Eight Days a Week" to open the show. "I know. It's supposed to be like going to class."

And the high school students made the most of the learning experience, quizzing Macca about his artistic process and the power of fame.

"The thing that fame does is give you freedom," he told the students, adding that he found that once The Beatles were successful the band didn't want to fall into a formula. He said fame allowed him to give fans "something that they don't know they want to hear just yet."

The Sinatra school students became among the first in the world to hear three songs from "New" live -- including the title track, which McCartney dedicated to his wife, Nancy Shevell, for their second wedding anniversary Wednesday.

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And, on what would have been John Lennon's 73rd birthday, McCartney paid tribute to him by playing "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite," which he recalled was written in Lennon's bedroom, and by telling a student that the only thing he would change in his life was stopping "the loss of your loved ones."

Everything else, he'd keep the same. "I've been so lucky musically," he said.

SETLIST: Eight Days a Week / Save Us / Jet / New / Lady Madonna / We Can Work It Out / Everybody Out There / Blackbird / Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite / Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da / Band on the Run / Back in the USSR / Hey Jude
 

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