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Music DVD Review: Paul McCartney – Good Evening New York City

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We've all seen footage of the Beatles historic 1965 performance at Shea Stadium, where, at the height of Beatlemania, they played the first ever rock concert in a major stadium, in front of 55,600 frantic fans. In October 2008, demolition began of this historic 44-year old stadium to allow for more parking space for the successor stadium built next door, Citi Field. On July 17th, 2009, Paul McCartney played the first of his three concerts to christen this brand-new stadium in front of a combined 109,397 people who were lucky enough to attend these three sold-out shows. Fortunately for us unlucky ones, most of the magic was captured on this superb new DVD, Good Evening New York City.

Good Evening New York City is the fourth new DVD of a major concert tour that Paul McCartney has released this last decade. 2003's Back In the U.S. was the first one and it was a mind-blower to see McCartney and his excellent new band knocking Beatles, Wings, and solo numbers out of the park. McCartney had not exactly embraced his Beatles' past up until this point, so it was a real treat to see so many Beatles classics performed by the man himself.

The one thing that has plagued all of McCartney's past concert DVDs, including Paul McCartney In Red Square, from 2005, and The Space Within US, from 2006, has been the terrible camera editing, that focused more on the crowd than the band, and continuously violated rule #1 of my Do-Not-Do list – interrupt a song performance midstream with interview and backstage footage. Especially when they are some of the GREATEST SONGS EVER WRITTEN! Well, I am happy to report that for this DVD, McCartney finally hired a director with a clue, and the results, although not perfect, are far better than any of his previous DVDs.

For this tour, McCartney took on a pretty challenging setlist that covers every aspect of his brilliant career, from the earliest of Beatles' hits, like "I Saw Her Standing There", all the way up to songs from his most recent solo album, Memory Almost Full, with the tracks "Dance Tonight" and "Only Mamma Knows." Probably the biggest surprise was McCartney's inclusion of two songs from his most recent album with The Fireman, 2008's Electric Arguments, where he busted out some exceptional versions of "Highway" and "Sing The Changes."

Performance highlights included a smokin' version of "I'm Down," which during the main feature cuts back and forth between the Beatles' Shea Stadium performance, but is also provided in it's uninterrupted entirety as a bonus feature. Deep cuts like "Got To Get You Into My Life," and "Get Back" were also a real treat for me. McCartney pays tribute to both of his departed Beatles' mates, first to George Harrison with a solo Ukulele interpretation of "Something" before inviting the full band to join in for a spirited rendition, and then to John Lennon when "A Day In The Life" melted right into "Give Peace A Chance."

The reason this DVD does not get the very highest of ratings from me is because of the whole "been there, done that" factor of having seen so many of these songs performed on McCartney's other DVDs already. I realize that McCartney is required to play the holy trinity of "Hey Jude," "Yesterday," and "Let It Be," at every show, but at this point they make me want to stick a knitting needle in my ear drum, I've heard them so many times. It would be easy for any Beatles/McCartney fan to pick apart this setlist, but it would also be futile. When you have such an epic catalog as this guy, you are always going to find fault with what was chosen to play and what was overlooked.

I would have loved to see him break out stuff like "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey," "With A Little Luck," "Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five," or "Venus and Mars/Rock Show," instead of "Let Me Roll It" and "Jet" for the umpteenth time, but I'll defer to my previous statement. I give McCartney a lot of credit for still mixing in a lot of his newer material, when he could have easily turned this into an exclusively Beatles nostalgia trip instead. Having "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)" and "The End" in your arsenal to close out the show is certainly the ultimate way to send off a crowd.

DVD 2 of the deluxe edition features McCartney's July 15, 2009 appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, where he and his band performed seven songs, "Get Back," Sing The Changes," "Coming Up," "Band On The Run," "Let Me Roll It," "Helter Skelter," and "Back In The USSR" from atop the Ed Sullivan Theater marquee in front of several thousand people that lined the Manhattan streets to see it. This performance alone was worth the price of the DVD for me. I never would have thought that "Coming Up" could sound so awesome. Also included is the audience documentary film "Good Evening People," as well as the full performance of "I'm Down."

Production-wise there is not too much to complain about this time around. I have the 2CD/2DVD deluxe edition, which comes in a sturdy hardbound case that includes a ton of pictures and a lengthy review/commentary by music journalist Michael Azerrad. DTS is the only 5.1 surround audio track provided, but an excellent Dolby Digital 2.0 mix is also provided for you unfortunate ones without a home theater setup. The DTS mix was very good, but the guitars could have been louder.

I'm still kicking myself in the ass for missing this tour when McCartney played Washington DC's FedEx Field last summer – I already had tickets to the Progressive Nation Tour w/Dream Theater when his concert was announced. I can't stand going to football stadium concerts anyways. Pick yourself up a copy of Good Evening New York City and get the best seat in the place.

Track List
01. Drive My Car
02. Jet
03. Only Mamma Knows
04. Flaming Pie
05. Got To Get You Into My Life
06. Let Me Roll It
07. Highway
08. The Long And Winding Road
09. My Love
10. Blackbird
11. Here Today
12. Dance Tonight
13. Calico Skies
14. Mrs. Vanderbilt
15. Eleanor Rigby
16. Sing The Changes
17. Band On The Run
18. Back In The USSR
19. I'm Down
20. Something
21. I've Got A Feeling
22. Paperback Writer
23. A Day In The Life/Give Peace A Chance
24. Let It Be
25. Live And Let Die
26. Hey Jude
27. Day Tripper
28. Lady Madonna
29. I Saw Her Standing There
30. Yesterday
31. Helter Skelter
32. Get Back
33. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/The End

Ratings:
Performance – 8/10
Production – 9/10

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