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Paul McCartney’s secret NYC show.

Many of you know that last night that our beloved tunesmith played an even smaller engagement last night in NYC than the one he did last week in England.  I would have given my left eye to have been there and experienced it in its full glory.  The Midwest be damned I say.  I need to move to NY. 

McCartney Plays Rare Gig to Promote Album

We heard that this show was nothing short of stunning. The setlist was quite similar to the recent “secret gig” in London, but it was tweaked a little bit.  Here’s the setlist from last night’s festivities.

Highline Ballroom
431 West 16th Street
New York, New York


  • Drive My Car
  • Only Mama Knows after which some of the audience sang happy birthday
  • Dance Tonight
  • C Moon
  • The Long and Winding Road
  • I’ll Follow the Sun
  • Calico Skies
  • That Was Me
  • Blackbird
  • Here Today
  • Back in the USSR
  • Nod Your Head
  • House of Wax
  • I’ve Got a Feeling
  • Matchbox
  • Get Back
  • Baby Face
  • Hey Jude
  • Let It Be
  • Lady Madonna
  • I Saw Her Standing There

It is my personal goal to see “House of Wax” performed live.  It is my new favorite McCartney tune.

Here’s what we’ve read.

“I love you, Paul,” someone shouted, halfway through Paul McCartney’s “secret” set at the Highline Ballroom on Wednesday night. Well, more than one: A lot of people were shouting that. They couldn’t help themselves. He was right in front of them.

“I love you, too,” Mr. McCartney answered, but almost as a defensive block: he put on a Tony Soprano accent, and he kept a straight face. “It’s the beauty of these intimate shows, you know,” he followed, dryly. “You get to have intimate conversations with the audience. ‘How ya doin’?’ ‘You’re the man!’ ‘Naw, you’re the man!’ ”

Cheery, but essentially trying to get his work done, Mr. McCartney struck a formal facsimile of intimacy: 90 minutes on stage in a 700-capacity room full of reporters, assorted V.I.P.s, contest winners and stand-in-line-for-a-long-timers who heard about the show only a day or two before.

The gig was a promotion for his new album, “Memory Almost Full” (Hear Music), and he put on the same show at the Electric Ballroom, a slightly larger club in London, last week. (He has not announced plans for a proper tour.)

It’s not unusual these days for big acts to play a promotional show at a club they’ve outgrown. The same night in New York, Franz Ferdinand played a “secret” gig at the Bowery Ballroom, and likewise with Interpol last week.

For Mr. McCartney, however, who can sell out stadiums at hundreds of dollars a ticket, this was unusual. He used no pyrotechnics or video backdrop, and the audience stood close enough to its hero that it could hold non-conversations with him. He played beautifully, in tight control of his voice (even in high range) and his musicianship, through a clutch of new songs and some of the oldest Beatles repertory.

But much of what was special about hearing someone like Mr. McCartney in a place like this was counteracted by the glibness of his touring band, almost the same crew that backed him on his stadium tour last year. These musicians-two guitarists, a keyboards and drums – were accurate, reliable, in the pocket and kind of flavorless.

Mr. McCartney is a fascinating alloy of raw and slick, eccentricity and efficiency. When you hear the tracks on “Memory Almost Full” in which he plays all the instruments – his drumming one step ahead of primitive, his bass lines so melodically inventive they’re almost evil – you wish he could just multiply himself for performances.

When the band replicated old parts, touching on the tiniest details of Beatles songs like “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” “Lady Madonna,” and “Hey Jude,” the show felt something like an homage to composition and production, rather than the great thing that performances can be: two-way rituals between band and audience.

But something about the joy and simplicity of the new songs made the set more special. There were five of them, including “Dance Tonight,” a naively sweet call for fun, with Mr. McCartney’s mandolin-strumming as the through-line; “Nod Your Head,” a slow, chugging rock song; and “That Was Me,” full of spry astonishment at looking back on a strange and notable life. (It went over big in the V.I.P. section, where people may be prone to similar thoughts.)

The onlooker’s stupid reflex, after decades of Beatlesology and Paul-versus-John studies, is to scrutinize Mr. McCartney for honesty, whatever that is. But all he had to do was play a few songs alone with guitar-“Blackbird” and “I’ll Follow the Sun”- and he seemed as guileless as the next guy. Later, alone at the piano, he sang “Here Today,” an elegiac song he wrote after John Lennon’s death, and dedicated it to “our fallen heroes: John, George and Linda.”

When he finished, he stopped the flow of his own efficiency, and thought out loud. “It’s good to play that song in the town John loved,” he said. “And where Linda was born in. And where we played the Ed Sullivan show.”

Source: NY Times


10 Responses

  1. man do i wish paul would tour on this album…..these shows need to be recorded and shown on pbs……these shows remind me of his december 1999 show at the cavern promoting run devil run…he rocked then and he rocks now….i saw her standing there was played at the cavern too….

  2. OH MY GOD!what a wonderful show!reading this article i noticed that sir Paul worked for arriving to the perfection!and it was so!i noticed also that in the songs list there were also other beautiful songs that he never playied and singing onstage!that’s really good!(i always thought that he likes singing and playing just i saw her standing there,hey Jude,back in the U.S.S.R. and nothing else!)but at the end of this article something given me some thrills!reading those sentences about John,George and Linda!that is absolutely great!”Maybe i’m amazed” as he said in one of his songs,but once again he won!

  3. I was at the NYC gig and it was nothing short of spectacular. I saw him in concert in 2005, which was impressive, but his performance at the Highline Ballroom was sheer perfection. I was amazed at how great his voice sounded. It sounded better than ever! You could close your eyes and picture the younger Paul of the Beatles and Wings and hear the great range in his voice. He really belted out some songs like Hey Jude and Back in the USSR. He was so charming on stage and was really enjoying himself. He even broke out into singing “Baby Face” (a really old tune) on the piano. He said he couldn’t help himself and was having so much fun. The man just gets better with time. I agree with a previous post, I really hope they make a DVD out of these performances.

  4. I just managed to obtain audio of the NYC secret gig. I’ll find some way to share it!

  5. for Matt:sir Matt,please can you take even the song:”here today” with what he told about John,George and Linda?please!

  6. on the space within us dvd paul does here today from his 2005 tour, which i am so glad to have been a part of…..

  7. for awc1967:really?wow!and how was it?did you enjoy it?oh,i would like to be there…… 😦

  8. […] video posted on Paul McCartney’s website.  Here’s some of the official video from his secret gig performance in NYC earlier this […]

  9. ulla, i saw paul in dallas in november 2005, it was great…….i was in the high seats, but paul was awesome…..paul did do here today in his 2002 concerts as well….i almost forgot that. as soon as paul started singing here today, my eyes became this river….. i saw paul both nights in may 2002, it was a dream come true…..back in the u.s. is the name of paul’s 2002 live album……it features here today….

  10. for awc1967:i can imagine a river under your feet!well,it is really fantastic,above all for me in particular:”here today”!when i hear it,it makes me cry,i don’t know,but it’s difficult to explain!so,i can imagine very well your reaction!

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