Paul McCartney’s “One on One” tour is a rare concert outing that is not tied to a new album or a specific anniversary. When McCartney arrives for shows at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday, Sept. 26, and Wednesday, Sept. 27, he will play songs from throughout his legendary career, which now spans six decades.
Though the former Beatle obviously focuses more on material from early in his career, his excellence extends to his more recent work. Here’s a look at Macca’s most memorable songs by decade:
Maybe the most stunning of all The Beatles’ earthshaking accomplishments is that they accomplished all of it in slightly more than a decade, their musical skills growing perhaps even faster than their popularity.
YESTERDAY (1965, “Help!”) The simplicity of this wrenching ballad has made it one of a handful of songs truly known all around the world, its universal feeling of loss and longing ringing as true today for 75-year-old McCartney as it did when he wrote it at 22.
PENNY LANE (1967, “Magical Mystery Tour”) The rich, detailed tour of McCartney’s Liverpool is a gorgeous tribute to his upbringing, giving his working-class characters a fanfare worthy of a royal.
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HELTER SKELTER (1968, “The Beatles”) Though McCartney was best known for his ballads in The Beatles, this raucous bit of heavy metal is like a punch in the face that has only grown more impressive in his live shows over the years.
McCartney moved quickly from the Beatles’ breakup to solo artist to founding Wings, his changing surroundings providing plenty of inspiration.
LET IT BE (1970, “Let It Be”) While The Beatles were falling apart, McCartney was writing rock’s anthem for acceptance and faith in the future, a sentiment that still resonates.
MAYBE, I’M AMAZED (1970, “McCartney”) In yet another bit of irony, McCartney crafted one of rock’s best love songs all by himself for his first solo album.
BAND ON THE RUN (1973, “Band on the Run”) The epic tale of escape from authorities and eventual freedom spans multiple musical styles, still standing as an effortless example of McCartney ambition.
After disbanding Wings, McCartney went solo again in 1981, though he began collaborating with other music superstars, including Michael Jackson, Elvis Costello and Stevie Wonder.
COMING UP (1980, “McCartney II”) The quirky, good-time pop song with the heavily processed vocals didn’t just warm plenty of fans’ hearts, it also reportedly inspired John Lennon to start recording again because it was so good.
TAKE IT AWAY (1982, “Tug of War”) The stylish, lilting charmer brought McCartney and wife Linda back together with Ringo Starr and Beatles producer George Martin, who helped mold together various musical bits into something seamlessly sweet.
MY BRAVE FACE (1989, “Flowers in the Dirt”) The best of the many collaborations between McCartney and Costello lets sunny harmonies and upbeat jangling put a brave face on a song about pretending to be OK after a breakup.
McCartney entered his more experimental phase, composing three albums of classical music and more avant-garde rock as The Fireman, in addition to continuing as a solo artist.
HOPE OF DELIVERANCE (1993, “Off the Ground”) McCartney doesn’t generally wear his influences so obviously, but this upbeat Latin-tinged anthem is just brimming with optimism for global “deliverance.”
THE WORLD TONIGHT (1997, “Flaming Pie”) Produced by Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne, McCartney sounds unusually timely on this rocker as he sings about “looking to the future.”
RUN DEVIL RUN (1999, “Run Devil Run”) McCartney was so inspired by the rockabilly and early rock and roll covers on the rest of the album, including Elvis Presley’s “All Shook Up” and Chuck Berry’s “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” that he wrote a rip-roaring rocker for himself.
McCartney settled into his role as rock’s senior statesman, while still pushing the musical envelope. It’s the era when he played the last song at Shea Stadium before it was torn down, with Billy Joel and his band backing him up, and then opened its replacement, Citi Field, with concerts of his own.
FREEDOM (2001, “Driving Rain”) After watching the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center unfold on 9/11, McCartney was inspired to help organize the Concert for New York City benefit and write this anthem, which he released to aid firefighters’ families.
FRIENDS TO GO (2005, “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard”) McCartney said he felt that the late George Harrison helped him write the straightforward rocker, which sounds like it could have come from Harrison’s “Cloud Nine” album.
DANCE TONIGHT (2007, “Memory Almost Full”) The charming little song was inspired by McCartney’s then-3-year-old daughter, Beatrice, who would dance whenever he played the mandolin. The song sounds exactly like one a father would write to keep his daughter dancing.
McCartney has once again turned his focus to new things, crafting “Ocean’s Kingdom” for the New York City Ballet, performing with the surviving members of Nirvana and collaborating with Kanye West.
MY VALENTINE (2012, “Kisses on the Bottom”) McCartney’s super-sweet love song for wife Nancy Shevell shows that he still knows his way around a ballad.
NEW (2013, “New”) He reworks some Beatlesque orchestration into an optimistic belief in limitless potential, a powerful statement for someone who has already accomplished so much.
FOURFIVESECONDS (2015, single) Come on, even the idea of Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney being “four, five seconds from wilding” is really enough to blow minds.
WHO Paul McCartney
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26, and Wednesday, Sept. 27, Nassau Coliseum
INFO $29.50-$350; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com
‘ONE ON ONE’ COVERAGE
Though Paul McCartney’s songs are some of the most familiar in the world, he wanted to put them in a new context for his “One on One” tour.
To accomplish that, McCartney turned to LeRoy Bennett, who has also worked on the current tours of Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars and serves as the production and lighting designer for his new tour.
“He just brings so much joy,” Bennett says. “He is the reason I do what I do. He is trying to use the concert to transport people into another world, where they can forget everything around them. He wants to give them a positive thing to remember.”
Bennett says the new tour features a set of songs where McCartney is lifted above the stage on a platform. “It’s a way to take him off of the stage and into his own little world,” says Bennett, who is also proud of a set that looks like a bayou shack, where it looks like McCartney is playing a small outdoor club, adding, “It makes it look very intimate.”
McCartney’s songs are like world treasures, says Bennett, who tries to add to the experience on tour without distracting from the music. “They mean so much to so many,” he says. “I’ve seen people in China singing along with him. . . .The emotions of his songs have crossed so many boundaries to people from his generation to young kids.”
There is one song, though, that hardly ever changes — the stunning, fire-breathing spectacle that comes with Wings’ “Live and Let Die.”
“We don’t use pyro anywhere else in the show,” says Bennett, laughing. “That is the song. It is the classic pyro song and is connected with how people see it. It is an iconic piece.” — GLENN GAMBOA