December 5, 2010 by Dan Swinhoe
A solo career after a big band break up can be an Albatross around the neck of any musician. Ozzy is still the ex-Black Sabbath frontman even after 40 years, and more amazing still, Victoria Beckham is still Posh spice.
So imagine the size of the bird around the neck of Paul McCartney; one of the main faces of the band that was bigger than Jesus. Any solo career is inevitably going to be lost in the shadow of it’s past.
Macca seems to acknowledge this with Good Evening New York City. The linear notes open by harking back the Beatles’ gig at the same venue nearly 50 years ago and then goes on to plug the new remasters.
But what Paul does well here is accept this fact. He doesn’t ignore his legacy, nor does he over indulge it. Of course there are more songs from the fab four but his Wings and solo catalog get their far share too.
Opening the set with a simple and cheeky ‘Good evening New York City’ he dives straight into Drive My Car, and makes bands half his ages look dull. The old scouser oozes confidence and the crowd respond in kind.
Paul’s voice has matured well over the years, giving him more of a rockers croak while still being soulful, and adding a new dimension to the older stuff, but he can still hit the melodic high notes when he needs to. the same can’t be said for his backing singers, and the magic harmonies of the old records is lost bait here.
That being said Macca still has a strong band behind him, they give the classics a modern rock injection. the band showing their skills by jamming into a few bars of Hendrix’s Foxy Lady after Let Me Roll It.
The orchestra gives the songs extra depth, newer song Dance Tonight is one of the highlights. but overall they don’t add as much as they should, especially on Got To Get You Into My Life
One thing that strikes you is how fresh the songs still sound. Blackbird, Jet, Eleanor Rigby, almost all of them have aged as well as the man which wrote them. And the ones that do show their age, like Sing the Changesor I’m Down, they simply turn into a window to a different time in music.
This is not a classic live album, it’s too long and does drag in places. But the amount of classic songs being played so well make this a fine statement from one of the last living legends.