You know, Paul McCartney–who wrote “Love Me Do” at 15 and “Yesterday” not much later, is now astonishingly youthful 69. He’s five years past his song “When I’m 64.” It doesn’t seem possible. But just to prove that he looks and sounds better than ever, the former and always Beatle played a packed, sold out Yankee Stadium on Friday night. The main celebrity guest was Mayor Mike Bloomberg, but also thought to be in the audience were former Wings musician Denny Laine (also of the Moody Blues) and Chevy Chase. McCartney is man of great contradictions. He seems to love his talented band but doesn’t introduce them by name or give them their due. He wears beautifully tailored clothes, but uses snap on suspenders (braces). There are two TelePrompters hooked up in the audience on which someone is closed-captioning the show with McCartney’s famous lyrics. It’s weird.
But just when McCartney seems confounding, he sings “I Will” from the White Album, or the first instance in concert of “The Night Before” from the Help! album, and it’s magic. He also tells a lot of stories, some of which he thinks will not even interest the audience. His shows have become chatty and autobiographical, which is nice if you’re a long time fan. He wants to tell us stuff, but he’s not sure if it’s good. Trust me, Paul, it is. He also has his failings. Why sing the god awful “Let ‘Em In” when he could be giving us “Another Day” or “Daytime Nighttime Suffering”?
Sometimes he is not his best editor. “Mrs. Vanderbilt” begins abruptly. “Band on the Run” is nearly thrown away. “Jet” could stand a mini retirement. Where are “Too Many People,” “My Love,” and “My Brave Face”? Where is any reference to highly praised albums like “Flaming Pie,” “Chaos and Creation,” the song “My Ever Present Past”? And why, oh why, isn’t “A Day in the Life” performed all the way through, instead of being jack hammered with “Give Peace a Chance”? Mysteries.
But that’s Paul. Lots of mysteries. He’s the surviving Beatle, the one with the songs. He runs hot and cold, but when he’s hot, it’s a treat. He looks tired at the end of almost three hours, but no more so than a man half his age. And when he starts the run to the end — “Let it Be,” “Live and Let Die,” “Hey Jude,” “Yesterday” — he is simply unmatched. And PS– Yankee Stadium, home of the hot dog, was turned veggie last night from top to bottom in every luxury suite. Somewhere in heaven, Linda McCartney was smiling.