U.S.A. Live! 2002 (His Masters Choice HMC 018)
Part 1 01 Hello Goodbye 02 Jet 03 All My Lovin’ 04 Getting Better (Denver, Co) 05 Coming Up 06 Let Me Roll It 07 Lonely Road (Tampa, Fl) 08 Driving Rain (Chicago, Il) 09 Your Loving Flame 10 Blackbird 11 Every Night 12 We Can Work It Out 13 Mother Nature’s Son (Dallas, TX) 14 Vanilla Sky 15 You Never Give Me Your Money / Carry That Weight 16 Fool On The Hill 17 Something 18 Eleanor Rigby 19 Here There And Everywhere ( 70:24 )
Part 2 01 Band On The Run 02 Back In The U.S.S.R. 03 Maybe I’m Amazed 04 C Moon ( Washington, DC ) 05 My Love 06 Can’t Buy Me Love 07 Freedom 08 Live And Let Die 09 Let It Be 10 Hey Jude 11 The Long And Winding Road 12 Lady Madonna 13 I Saw Her Standing There 14 Yesterday 15 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) / The End. Bonus Track 16 Matchbox Blues ( 69:40 )
As the introductory piece from the gazette puts it “The Driving World Tour was Paul McCartney’s first concert tour of the 21st Century and of any kind since 1993’s New World Tour. For the first time in nearly a decade, McCartney returned to the road following the death of first wife Linda ( McCartney ), the death of George Harrison and 9/11. This was in promotion of his 2001 album Driving Rain” The result of Paul having found love once again ( An event that you might think that Paul would not want documenting after his near miss .. ) was that “Driving Rain” bore some of his best recent songs although, that his last original album had been released in 1997, it had given him a little chance to get it together and compose.
HMC have already released an excellent and successful soundboard from Macca’s 2005 tour and so have continued with another quality McCartney release but this time from an earlier tour. Touted as being a worthy companion piece to the official CD or DVD release the sound is, as we’ve come to expect, an awesome soundboard. As with HMC’s “Oddities” release that seemed to represent a working version of John Lennon’s “Anthology” boxed set, I have to assume that the label have scored a safety tape of mixes from the Back In The U.S. tour and this is what we have in this set. The tracks are a good few seconds to a minute and a half longer than their official counterparts including the full introductions.
Based around the current running order of the set, the songs are expertly ( sometimes! ) cross faded between each other. Whether this was done at the mixing stage or by HMC themselves it’s not clear but some of the tracks also feature offline introductions to the songs by Paul but as most of these would be cut out from the C.V. it doesn’t really matter.
As I mentioned in the Des Moines review, McCartney’s shows are strictly polished affairs, even after his lengthy lay off from being on the road, Macca and his crack band deliver the goods more than perfectly.
A storming “Hello, Goodbye”, one of the Beatle’s most cartoonishly technicolor sounding songs cranks up the set in a brilliant fashion followed by a robustly tub-thumping “Jet” that takes the rumbling electricity of rock up to 11 while giving Paul his first chance to throw open his vocal chords and howl.
“Getting Better” would find it’s premier on this tour, “Coming Up” was still to be opened towards it’s ‘Peter Gunn’ instrumental that was featured on the 2005 tour but still holds as much excitement and pomp as it would when featured in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s shows. Neither does “Let Me Roll It” have it’s Hendrix tribute bolted on to the end. Funny how you miss these things in retrospect.
Paul shows his atypical reservedness after “Coming Up” by exclaiming “I would say ‘are you having a good time?’ but I think it’s obvious.”
Some of the new tracks or rather some of the few tracks to be played from the new album include “Lonely Road”, “Driving Rain” ( to which Paul gives a little explanation of it’s genesis ) and the single “Your Loving Flame” ( Dedicated to Heather. Another piece of McCartney history that would no doubt be whitewashed nowadays. )
The acoustic section features a sweet “Blackbird”, one of Macca’s early solo hits “Every Night” and, with the biggest audience participation, “We Can Work It Out”.
Both “Mother Natures Son” and “Vanilla Sky” were dropped from the set after the tours first leg and in the instance of the latter, would not appear on the tour’s album so it makes it a welcome appearance here along with a long introduction.
As became standard on this tour and thereafter George’s “Something” appears but, for whatever reason, the Lennon tribute “Here Today” is missing.
Disk 2 is the hard rockin’ classics side kicking off with the expectant “Band On The Run” straight through “Back in the USSR” slowing down for 3 songs beginning with “Maybe I’m Amazed” and concluding with a dedication to Linda on “My Love”. From there on in it’s back to sprinting towards the finish with exuberant takes on The Fab’s “Can’t Buy Me Love”, Paul’s well-intentioned-but-lame 9/11 track “Freedom” and the firework popping extravaganza that is “Live And Let Die”.
The big guns are, unsurprisingly, brought out as “Let It Be”, “Hey Jude” and “I Saw Her Standing There” blaze a trail towards the end but as each track feels like it couldn’t top the last ultimately the set list ends on, what else, “The End” as now preceded by “Sgt. Peppers Reprise”
That’s usually where you would be making your way to the merchandise stall / your car / accident and emergency but HMC have included one final track to the end of their release and as the main set ends we’re treated to a bluesy take on “Matchbox” from an unidentified soundcheck – very possibly a left over from Audiofon’s ‘Things We Said in Denver’ disk. Obviously never intended to appear within the official set it’s a chance for the band to warm up and work loose – it’s just a shame that the sets themselves aren’t played by picking the song from a hat as this version of the rock’n’roll oldie is possibly more exciting to the hardcore fan than the rest of the songs on the other two disks and show just how hot a band McCartney has backing him. There’s no doubt that Paul can remember his own songs very well but to vary the set list would make Macca a hotter ticket than he already is.
As is now usual, the standard HMC package is the long Gazette styled digipack, packed with the usual info stolen from Wikipedia (!), an interview between Paul and Dave Marino from EarCandyMag, the tour dates for the first leg of the ‘Driving U.S.A. tour’, a fans write up on the Toronto show from April 13th and a puff piece on the feud between the songwriting ownership that the “Back in the U.S. / World” album kicked up along with the regular vegetarian paraphernalia that is included in each HMC McCartney release.
Another winner from the HMC stable who, while they’re not releasing titles from McCartney’s current tour, are mining some great ones from his ever present past.