There is a moment on this great DVD that sums up the way many of us who grew up with Paul McCartney and the Beatles feel. As a family spanning three generations prepares to go to the concert, "Dad" comments on how McCartney's music has been an influence on his life matched only by that of his family and his religion.
And, for the most part, that's how it is for those of us who grew up with the Beatles. My own life experience is defined in much the same way as the "Dad" on this DVD. From the moment I saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show at the tender age of seven, their music had such a profound effect on me, it would impact me for the rest of my life. It continues to do so to this day.
It's often been said the music you grow up with becomes the soundtrack of your life. But in the case of the Beatles, this rings truer than perhaps with any music ever made. The Beatles' music literally was that soundtrack for anybody who grew up in the sixties. It not only provided the backdrop to the events of that tumultuous decade, but in many ways it defined them. For myself growing up at that time, the Beatles music defined who I would become in my adult life every bit as much as my belief in God and family did.
As much as I love people like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, for example, and as much as I both respect and revere the contribution their songs have made to modern culture, I don't think there is anyone living or dead who can lay claim to an impact matching that of the Beatles.
So "Dad" was definitely onto something in his assessment as far as I am concerned.
But the other thing about that is the songs themselves are so timeless they span generations. Watching this DVD, with it's many crowd shots, this becomes especially apparent. You see middle-aged couples hugging each other, and kids singing along who know every single word to the songs just as surely as their Moms and Dads do.
With both John Lennon and George Harrison now gone, Paul McCartney is really our last link to the promise that the music of the Beatles gave us. And that is not to disrespect Ringo Starr – because lets face it, the guy's backbeat is simply unmatched in music. But it was the songs, mostly written by McCartney and John Lennon, that convinced us that the world could really be a better place. Thank God that Paul McCartney is performing so many of them live now.
This is quite simply one great DVD.
When I saw the US Tour show in Seattle last year, hearing these songs — many of which I honestly never expected to see ever performed live — literally brought tears to my eyes. They took me back to when I first heard them in a way I simply did not expect. Watching this DVD, and seeing the similar reactions of many in the audience — hugging, kissing, and crying with each other to the music — brought those memories flooding right back.
Of course you've got the hits. From "Magical Mystery Tour," to "Drive My Car," to "Eleanor Rigby," they are all meticulously reproduced here. But what made the US tour truly special was the more obscure material McCartney brought out. Who could have imagined, for example, ever hearing something like "I'll Get You" (first released as the B-side to the single version of "She Loves You") performed on a concert stage in 2006? Or how about forgotten chestnuts like "Till There Was You," "Please Please Me" and "Fixing A Hole"? Those great songs and more are all here.
The other thing I most remember from seeing McCartney live on the US tour last year was the incredible lighting and staging. When Paul takes the stage to "Magical Mystery Tour" here, the lights generated by the hundreds of LCD screens behind him are simply stunning.
Since much of this DVD was shot in Los Angeles, it's also interesting to see how celebrities from Jay Z and Beyonce to Bono and Steven Tyler line up to meet and greet Paul backstage in the same way every day fans like you and I would. During "Helter Skelter" you can even spot Jack Nicholson in the crowd throwing his hands in the air like he just don't care.
There are also personal insights on the impact of Paul McCartney and the Beatles offered up by notables ranging from Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder to President Bill Clinton (who comes across as a major fan). If I have any complaint at all about this DVD, it is that "Hey Jude" and "Let It Be," two of the most powerful songs McCartney performs in concert, are basically cut short by the behind the scenes vignettes.
But that's small potatoes in the greater scheme of things. Simply put, this is a great DVD.
You can view a trailer from it by going to Warner Music's website. Or better yet, just go get it.