The long and winding road took Paul McCartney back to Madison Square Garden, where the Beatles legend proved he hasn’t lost a bit of his magic.
Performing his first full concert at the famed New York City arena since 2005, McCartney, 75, captivated the sold-out audience with a blend of Fab Four classics, his biggest Wings hits and even a few contemporary numbers.
And if that wasn’t enough, McCartney closed out the three-hour, 40-song performance by bringing Bruce Springsteen onstage to perform during his encore in what was one of the major highlights of the night.
Clearly, it was worth the 12-year wait.
McCartney got the mostly adult audience on its feet and rocking from the get-go, kicking things off with one of his first Beatles hits, “A Hard Day’s Night,” before running through fan favorites like “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Jet” and “All My Loving” early on in the set.
It was a sign of things to come.
Paul McCartney performed 40 songs that included a mix of Beatles classics, Wings hits and a few newer solo numbers.
(David Wexler/For New York Daily News)
“Good evening, New York City,” McCartney proclaimed to the cheering crowd two songs in. “It’s so good to be back!”
McCartney gave the people exactly what they wanted – a performance packed with Beatles songs, with many of his other recognizable works weaved in throughout. He had the audience engaged throughout. They sang along during the ultra-catchy “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and “Back in the USSR.” They watched in awe as pyrotechnics synced up to “Live and Let Die” filled the stage. They held their cellphone flashlights high during “Let It Be.”
It further proved what everyone already knew: McCartney knows how to put on a show.
Much of the night felt more like a conversation with the crowd than a concert. Every few songs, he’d share an anecdote from his rock ‘n’ roll past with the audience, or read from a sign in the audience. In one particularly charming moment, he pointed out a fan holding a sign saying he’d been to 112 McCartney concerts.
“It’s an obsession, isn’t it?” McCartney joked.
Bruce Springsteen (left) and Paul McCartney backstage at the 2012 Grammys in Los Angeles. McCartney got a little help from the Boss at his return show at the Garden on Sept. 15, 2017.
There were somber moments, too. McCartney paid tribute to his late bandmate, John Lennon, by playing “Here Today,” the emotional song he wrote after his co-founding bandmates 1980 death. He then honored George Harrison playing the former Beatles’ seminal hit “Something” on the ukulele, before grabbing a guitar and turning it into a full band performance.
And McCartney sounded good, too. He delighted the crowd with a few solo performances – just him and his guitar – when he played “Blackbird” and “Here Today,” and showed he can still hit the high notes during “Something.
Many of his Wings and solo hits were crowd-pleasers, like “Band on the Run” and “Maybe I’m Amazed.” But for the most part, his Beatles hits were what thrust the Garden into a helter skelter.”
His performance of “Hey Jude” got the whole crowd singing in unison for over five minutes. His rendering of “Yesterday” earned a massive ovation.
He also managed to slide a not-so-subtle joke about President Trump into his dialogue, referring to the 1960s rumors that The Beatles and Rolling Stones were bitter rivals as “fake news.”
Paul McCartney played the first of his two shows at Madison Square Garden, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017.
(David Wexler/For New York Daily News)
McCartney’s energy was exceptional throughout the night, and he continually switched guitars and popped back and forth between two pianos, depending on which song he was playing.
And when Springsteen emerged during McCartney’s encore to perform “I Saw Her Standing There” – not once, but twice – the crowd absolutely erupted. The audience audibly groaned when McCartney said it was time to go home.
No doubt the Madison Square Garden faithful was happy to have the iconic Beatle back at “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”
Friday’s show – which is part of McCartney’s ongoing “One on One” tour – was his first show at any venue in New York this year. He performed two concerts at Newark’s Prudential Center earlier this week.
He’s set to perform once again at the Garden on Sunday, before heading to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center next Tuesday and Thursday. He wraps up the New York leg of his tour with back-to-back gigs in Uniondale on Sept. 26 and 27.