Paul McCartney hasn't significantly altered his approach to live shows in the last twenty years. When he toured in the '70s with Wings, he either avoided Beatles songs altogether or limited them to a very minor part of the set list. His first live album, 1977's Wings Over America, featured a mere five Beatles tunes. Beginning in 1989, his first tour of that decade, he loaded the set with Beatles music. A handful of choice Wings-era hits and album tracks added some balance, and a few brand new songs were thrown in just to prove it wasn't strictly an oldies show. Of course, a large percentage of the audience hadn't bought whatever new album he was ostensibly promoting. For all intents and purposes, it was more or less about nostalgia.
Flash forward to 2009 and the release of Good Evening New York City: Deluxe Edition, a 2-CD/2-DVD extravaganza, and longtime fans may find themselves disappointed. Does anyone really need a fifth live recording of "Live and Let Die?" The vast majority of the songs found here have appeared on or more of his previous five concert albums. Seeing McCartney perform in person is a great thrill even though he goes through most of the same paces, such as the singalong concluding "Hey Jude," night after night. When you're right there in the stadium, with thousands of people joining in, it works every time. Hearing it on CD is another story, especially when comparing the newest live version to the all-too-similar previous one.
For my money the only essential McCartney live releases are the aforementioned Wings Over America and 1991's Unplugged. The former documents a time when he could base an entire set around solo material and not disappoint anyone (not to mention still being at the peak of his vocal powers). The latter takes him out of his comfort zone and forces him to scale everything back to a casual, intimate level. The rest of the bunch only serve to emphasize how utterly predictable the man is in concert. No one would walk out of the stadium if he launched into "Junior's Farm" or "Helen Wheels," in fact more than a few diehard fans (myself included) would be tickled pink. Yet he insists on cramming in as many of the same Beatles' chestnuts as possible.