Did the New York Daily News intentionally allow homo references to creep into a Paul McCartney review? Read about PM’s robust and creamy instrument, about his stripped down performance as well as his taught and tight unit.
NY- Let’s hear it for flaws – even small ones.
At Paul McCartney’s long and inspiring show at The Garden Friday night, tiny signs of age showed in what remains the singer’s robust and creamy instrument. When the nearly 64-year-old star performed songs like “Maybe I’m Amazed,” he had to strain to sustain the longer notes. When he waded into the spiraling melody of “Long and Winding Road,” more wobble hobbled his tone.
Yet any technical chinks in McCartney’s vocal armor only made him mine more honest emotion to compensate. And the strategy wound up adding a humanity and vulnerability that helped make this show a more immediate, deep, and satisfying display than the star’s more rote road shows.
On recent tours, McCartney could come off like a human jukebox, cranking out the classics with a skilled but dutiful distance. He was Robo-Paul, doing it all for you, but leaving the core of himself back at the hotel. At the Garden, several factors helped McCartney seem more stoked and engaged.
For one, it’s a more stripped-down show than we’ve seen the ex-Beatle give. An uncommon portion of the two-hour-and-35-minute performance was given over to acoustic, solo pieces. No fewer than 16 of the night’s astonishing 37 numbers found McCartney strumming the guitar or plunking the piano by himself – or aided by minimal accompaniment from the band.
The pared-down set worked particularly well in songs like “I Will” or “I’ll Follow The Sun,” where McCartney’s voice made the most of the intimacy. His slightly less full tone made those songs seem like paternal lullabies. Though McCartney made fun of “‘Til There Was You,” as a “smoochy number,” his delivery could make you swoon.
McCartney’s numbers with the full band worked equally well. He’s got a taut and tight unit, with just four players backing the star bassist. They’re the perfect power pop combo for charging numbers like “Jet,” “Band On The Run,” or an especially rhythmic “I’ve Got A Feeling.”
While McCartney offered no fewer than 24 Beatles classics, he also included four numbers from his new CD, “Chaos and Creation In The Backyard,” his best-reviewed work in years. The flinty “Jenny Wren” fared best, but even an aural crumpet like “English Tea” had its charms.
As usual, McCartney didn’t mess around with the arrangements of his songs, or allow much instrumental embellishment, except in the hard rock jam that ended the “Abbey Road” segment.
That meant the only way the songs could seem fresh was for the singer to be more present in the performances. Given McCartney’s often blandly happy demeanor, that’s no small feat. He can’t lean on the edginess, coolness, or myth of other towering ’60s figures, like Dylan or Keith Richards.
Yet here McCartney won us over by giving something more than his usual, technically perfect performance. Finally, he seemed to be giving himself.