Paul McCartney, ‘Closed Soundcheck At Budokan 2017’
Budokan, Tokyo, Japan 25th April, 2017
1. Here, There And Everywhere #1 2. Guitar 3. Here, There And Everywhere #2 4. Drums, Keyboards 5. Piano #1 (electric) 6. Conversation #1 7. Piano #2 (acoustic) 8. Conversation #2 9. Session 10. Honey Don’t 11. Magical Mystery Tour #1 12. Magical Mystery Tour 13. Save Us #1 14. Save Us #2 15. Let ‘Em In 16. Love Me Do 17. Queenie Eye 18. Bluebird 19. Ram On 20. Under Pressure (76:45)
Macca’s return to Japan was catnip to concert goers. Judging from all the recordings that started appearing after the shows it appeared that going out to see Paul was akin to stopping in and watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan – the streets of Tokyo must have been bare. Standard for the shows, Macca and his band took part in an extended sound check / mess around prior to the show itself. These are usually paid for affairs with the purchase of a golden ticket – for this soundcheck though, Paul seems to be joined by a by a sound technician going by the name of Phil who’s IEM feed I presume that we’re plugged in to but if anyone believes differently, please feel free to state below.
The IEM is saturated lightly with static which appears and disappears throughout the set – It’s harmless enough not to be that noticeable for the main part but when I was listening through my ear-buds was horrifically saturating. A good pair of headphones or speakers will eliminate it for the best part.
The set begins with a laborious trudge through “Here, There and Everywhere”. Straight to the point – It’s f*cking boring. Rather than suggesting that you might listen to it only once, skip it all together this goes for tracks 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8 as all you really get after this long winded piano noodle is a pretty pointless guitar amble and crew laughing at cartoons in the back ground, with some extraneous level checking in the back ground. . You can find much better things to do with 11 minutes of your life like making a sandwich or painting a panel on the fence and beginning to watch it dry. In fact, paint two or three panels or prepare a lasagne as listening to an off mic McCartney isn’t much fun either and you probably got more from the Apple lawyers tape.
‘Session’ is where things get a little better, an off the cuff jam. Listening to a musical master bounce about with his workmates for fun can be hit and miss but this is essentially a none-offensive moment when you feel there’s no forced training, just an easy, breezy, lost in the moment warm up. Maybe Macca might include it on his new album – remember where you heard it first!
Things speed up a little after this as the jam falls in to a jumpy little version of ‘Honey Don’t’ after which Macca thanks the “Lone audience member”. There then follows a disjointed run through of ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, there is a full run through of the song along with horribly out of tune harmonies then Paul practices a little bass (!) over a playback for the CV as the band practice and test their levels.
‘Save Us’ from the last album is played out twice but be aware that Abe’s tambourine dashing may send you mad as it is way up in the mix and after a while becomes infuriatingly incessant. The first take completes then makes way for a short discordant jam. Paul makes a joke about the bass sound before the second take which breaks down naturally around half way through, happy that they’ve caught the sound.
Macca’s “David” joke before ‘Let ‘Em In” seems to be directed to someone who has just walked in but it leads nicely in to the song itself. A pretty standard run through this one after which, the band mess about a little again, with a couple of drum splashes and Wix imitating the sound of a British fire engine with his keyboard.
‘Love Me Do’ has Macca return to the front of the stage. His voice sounds a little more worn here, stepping close to but not close enough to the notes that he used to hit. He also seems to be the only person singing which might account for this lack of his muscle. Paul then asks Pat if he needs to hear anymore, the reply returns in the negative but Macca then clarifies that what he means is if they need to raise any instruments volume, again, Phil thinks what he has is sufficient.
“Queenie Eye” is another standardised run-through, though the monotone backing vocals appear again, crunching the end of the track and making it sound flat. Paul has an issue with the “Hey” responses to his own calls and asks the band to adjust accordingly but there’s no need to practice that again as they quickly move on to a noisy version of ‘Bluebird’ with heavy sax and wood percussion and Macca’s vocals seem to get quieter.
Finally the band end up on a short rattle through ‘Ram On’ and a very brief version of Queen and David Bowie’s ‘Under Pressure’. Both are brief consequentials as they begin to wind down. Paul’s certainly not taking it seriously as he knows that Phil won’t like him playing something that they have no intentions of playing in the main set. Abe seem’s to hear Aerosmith’s ‘Love In An Elevator’ though and plays the beat for that instead.
A game of two half this one – Most of the disk is painfully boring to listen to, the rest is actually quite cool were it not for the static in the quiet parts. The completist in your life will no doubt love this and file it away safely. The rest of us, don’t bother, stick to the concert instead.