Paul McCartney: Good Evening New York City

RIYL: Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones

When Paul McCartney opined about the bliss of eventual retirement in “When I’m 64,” no one could have guessed at the time, that in actual fact he’d put that premise to the test and choose to ignore that option completely. Indeed, here he is at 67, showing no signs of slowing down while wailing away and glibly commanding the stage like a rocker half his age. McCartney’s sixth live set in the past 19 years – a remarkable feat in itself – finds the aging mop top dutifully spanning his entire career as always , but oozing out an emotional commitment that’s truly astonishing. Yes, the usual standards – “Let It Be,” “Yesterday,” Hey Jude,” “Live and Let Die” – make the cut for the umpteenth time, usurping slots that could have best been taken from the hundreds of other worthy contenders. (It’s worth noting that the entirety of McCartney and Flowers in the Dirt, unquestionably two of his best albums, have been booted entirely.) Still Paul, ever the crowd-pleaser, clearly doesn’t want to deny his fans the old stand-bys.

Recorded at the opening show of Paul’s three-night stand at Citi Field (a fitting choice, given its approximation to Shea Stadium), the two-CD/one-DVD Good Evening New York City spans nearly three dozen tracks, with the usual inclusion of newer material – the jocular “Dance Tonight,” the full tilt “Only Mama Knows,” the irresistible “Flaming Pie” – along with a handful of songs seldom revisited; an emotional ode to Lennon, “Here Today,” the ever-compelling duo “Paperback Writer” and “Day Tripper,” a jaunty “Mrs. Vanderbilt.” Tributes to former band mates via a ukulele-initiated “Something” and an unlikely medley of “A Day in the Life” (with Paul managing John’s part as well as his own) and “Give Peace a Chance” add a nice touch, but ultimately it only heightens the sense of nostalgia that can’t help but shadow every McCartney appearance. Ghosts of Shea haunt practically every facet of the proceedings, from the archival clips of that concert to animated images appropriated from the recent “Beatles: Rock Band” release to an effusive reprise of “I’m Down,” Shea’s rarely performed show-stopper. As much as Macca strives to remain freshly re-groomed, clearly he can never outrun the memories, causing even his best new efforts to eventually dim in comparison to his former band’s luster. After all, when it comes the Beatles, memories don’t easily cede the spotlight.

At times in fact, it seems like heresy hearing Paul’s backing band appropriating john, George and Ringo’s roles on the old Beatles chestnuts, or for that matter, finding Billy Joel offering up a cameo on “I Saw Her Standing There.” But then again, Paul’s four-piece backing band is as adept as it is streamlined, and given that the current set stretches nearly three hours as opposed to the 30 minutes granted to Shea’s screaming masses, there’s something to be said for updating the MO. Ultimately, it’s a good – make that, great – evening indeed. (Hear Music)

Paul McCartney website