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.