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Review: Paul McCartney’s Good Evening New York City live CD/DVD set

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Paul McCartney’s new live CD/DVD, Good Evening New York City, was released on November 17. It features performances recorded at New York’s Citi Field on July 17, 18 and 21, 2009. McCartney’s shows were the first concerts ever held at the new Citi Field, which replaces Shea Stadium.

If you want to feel like you’re really at a live show watching the legendary ex-Beatle do what he does best, make sure you definitely watch the Good Evening New York City DVD first, BEFORE you listen to the CDs. On the DVD, you get to hear Paul tell a few stories in-between songs, like his experience hearing Jimi Hendrix play “Sgt. Pepper” only two days after it was released back in 1967. You also get to hear how Paul came up with the melody to “Blackbird.”

And most striking to this longtime Beatles fan was when McCartney sings “Here Today”, his tribute to the late John Lennon, and gets extremely choked up during the performance. As many times as I’ve seen Paul in concert or watched previous live performances, I can’t recall ever seeing him get this emotional during this touching song. “As you can tell, sometimes that song catches me out,” Paul explains to the audience afterwards.

But, warning, you don’t necessarily get the same experience on the live McCartney CDs. To me, the purpose of a live concert recording is to be able to re-live over and over the magic that was created that one special night. However, it seems like Paul doesn’t see it that way. On the CDs, all his comments in-between songs have been deleted. At the beginning, he declares, “Good Evening New York City,” and that’s the extent of his spoken words throughout the recording, except when he shouts out “Billy Joel” after their duet on “I Saw Her Standing There.”. This is not the first time he’s done this on a live CD. For the 2002 release of Back in the US, Paul did the same thing and deleted all his comments in-between songs on the live CD.

Not only that, but there are instances where a different vocal recording appears on the CD compared to the one that was used on the DVD. For example, the vocal used on the DVD for “Here Today”, in which I just mentioned that McCartney gets noticeably choked up, is a different performance on the CD where there is no crack in Paul’s voice whatsoever. As a result, while the live CDs are a great performance of McCartney’s solo and Beatles hits, they sound way too smooth and polished to offer the true, authentic live concert experience.

And in the end… the DVD (not the CDs) really recreates the magic of seeing Paul McCartney in concert. At the age of 67, he still puts on a great live show. There’s no mistaking that the man loves what he does. My recommendation is that you get the deluxe edition of the set (available exclusively at Best Buy) which also includes a second DVD featuring Paul’s news-making performance from July 2009 on top of the Late Show with David Letterman’s marquee in Manhattan.

TV alert: A Paul McCartney Thanksgiving special will air on ABC at 10 pm on November 26 featuring excerpts from “Good Evening New York City” as well as original footage from The Beatles Shea Stadium concert.

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2 thoughts on “Review: Paul McCartney’s Good Evening New York City live CD/DVD set

  1. Found your post because of “Here Today”. I just watched the DVD, and listened to the CD and was surprised of the difference.
    BTW, McCartney did choke in “Back in the US” DVD when the crew members surprised him with some kind of tribute during one of the songs (don’t remember the exact details).

  2. Listening to anything from this genius always makes for a happier day