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Music Review: Paul McCartney – Good Evening New York City (2 CD/1 DVD Edition)

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A new live album from Paul McCartney is really nothing new at all anymore. Ever since he began playing the old Beatles tunes again, Macca's been cranking the live CD and DVD packages out at what seems to be a near annual rate.

What makes Good Evening New York City something special though, is probably more its historical value than anything else. That, plus the fact that in addition to the usual setlist with "Hey Jude," "Band on The Run," "Live And Let Die" and the rest, McCartney offers up some rarely played choice cuts, as well as versions of newer songs that rock more than they really have any right to.

The occasion of Good Evening New York City is last summer's three-night stand inaugurating New York's Citi Field, some 45 years after the Beatles played the site of the former Shea Stadium.

In this 2 CD/1 DVD package — it's also available in a deluxe edition with a bonus disc of Macca playing Let It Be style on the roof of the Ed Sullivan Theatre —  the eternally young McCartney and his crack band are captured in a nearly three-hour, 33-song set that is a trip down memory lane.

From the Beatles to Wings to the Fireman, no base was left uncovered on this night at the new ball park — not bad for a guy well into his sixties. I can't imagine anyone who was actually there leaving the stadium feeling they got anything less than their money's worth on what I'm quite sure was a pricey ticket.

Although the exact same setlist is captured on both the two CDs and the single DVD, there are some interesting differences here. The CDs feature none of the in-between song banter seen and heard on the DVD for one thing, so it plays more like a non-stop performance on the audio portion.

The DVD on the other hand plays like so many of McCartney's other live concert films do. There are nearly as many shots of audience members hugging, holding up signs, and dancing in the aisles as there are of the band playing — which on past DVDs has proved occasionally frustrating.

On The Space Within Us for example, nearly all of "Hey Jude" was cut to make room for an interview with a family of fans at about the mid-song point. Fortunately, "Hey Jude" gets a complete airing here, in all of its sing-along glory. And I don't care what anyone says, I could hear "Jude" on a thousand concert recordings, and it still gets me every single time.

On "I'm Down," the DVD also splices back and forth between the Citi Field performance, and the Beatles doing it 45 years ago at Shea. As much as that might sound like a potential disaster, they actually pull this trick off. On the CD however, they stick to the version from the 2009 concert.

Those who already own some of Macca's past live recordings, will want to get this one if for no reason than the ferocious version here of the rarely played "Day Tripper." Other highlights include surprisingly fresh takes on recent tracks from Memory Almost Full ("Only Mama Knows," "Dance Tonight") and The Fireman ("Highway," "Sing The Changes"). Billy Joel also shows up for "I Saw Her Standing There."

If most of the rest seems more than a bit familiar from McCartney's numerous other live albums — well, that's because it is. Even so, Good Evening New York City is probably the most well done of the lot to date. In stores Tuesday November 17.

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About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at The Rockologist, and at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.
  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    I think this is the exact set played at Coachella

  • http://everythingisamess.wordpress.com Tom Johnson

    “I’m Down” is included “intact” on the bonus DVD, but anyone buying this would probably be foolish not to buy it anyway – $19.99 at Best Buy next week? How could you pass that up?!

    I am a little annoyed, however, to read that they left out the banter on the CD. That’s just part of the show, and I want to hear it. Yes, every time I listen to it. I’ll buy it anyway, but I’ll shake my fist and grumble about it!

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    I get what you’re saying Tom, although it doesn’t bother me as much. The impression I got was that they were trying to go for a purer experience focusing strictly on the music. Anyway, the banter is all there on the DVD — and the bits about Harrison and the ukelele are priceless (I forgot to mention that in the review, so thanks for the opening there).

    -Glen

  • http://marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    they should put that sucker through protools again and remove all of that annoying applause .

    also, fix any other musical-type errors.

    yeesh.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    huh?

  • http://marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    just a comment on the removal of the between-song chatter…which i think is totally wrong.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    OK, Gotcha. I’ve been so focused on the magic of the disappearing and reappearing picture, you’ll have to forgive me if I seem distracted.

    -Glen

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Now ya see it, now ya don’t.

  • Carl Fitzgerald

    Hi,can you just put my mind at rest on one thing,are all the talking heads and fan interviews slotted in between the songs as on previous macca dvd’s?i really hope not,is the dvd a straight concert from start to finish,band chat while on stage is fine of course.Mccartneys previous dvd’s have been ruined by all the needless chat from fans,these should be in the extras area.I long for a macca dvd with just the music and an uninterupted concert experience.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Compared to the previous DVDs, you can more or less rest easy. None of the music is interrupted as on the others (note my comments on “Hey Jude”).

    It’s pretty much the straight concert experience, with the exception of the splicing on “I’m Down.” But even that kinda works in this case oddly enough.

    Lotsa crowd shots as usual yeah, but unlike others, not a note is missed.

    -Glen

  • Curt

    Macca is the greatest ever, thank god we still get anything from him much less a great record like electric arguments I treasure every second of sound we get from him , thanks Paul !!!!!!!!!!!

  • Carnen Roche

    I saw the same show at the Hardrock Cafe, with only 2500 people. Very intimate. I was a tennis court away. It is nice to see the DVD to see the mega delux screen, I was too close to Paul…. for the seond time.:)The concert was great and Paul looked happy, His ‘girlfriend’ was near me too.:) She was dancing away. Love the new DVD and CD set. But I liked “The Space Withus US” and hearing everyone’s and including Pres.Clinton 2 min. interveiws of how great Paul is. Hope he returns soon.
    Carmen, Las Vegas, NV

  • Gray

    Why is it autotuned?

  • Enoch

    Gray,
    Agreed. This is one of the more distracting auto-tune jobs I’ve heard. It sounds damn terrible and I couldn’t stand listening to 2 cds of it. It’s a real shame, because I love these songs. I’ve heard the same thing done to robert plant’s vocals recently. I can’t believe any engineer would have the audacity to disrespect a legendary voice like that.

  • Mark Carvell

    Lot of strnge vocabulary here: “protools” and now “auto-tune” which I get if it is about Drive My Car but I guess it is something else, maybe to do with correcting Paul if he dares to be out of tune at all? Hmm….it has been a long and winding road.