Paul McCartney – Rock The Citi Field 2009 (Piccadilly Circus 2009 PCCD-070/071)

Rock The Citi Field 2009 (Piccadilly Circus 2009 PCCD-070/071)

Citi Field, New York, NY – July 18th, 2009

Disc 1 (77:56):  Drive My Car, Jet, Only Mama Knows, Flaming Pie, Got To Get you Into My Life, Let Me Roll It, Highway, The Long And Winding Road, My Love, Blackbird, Here Today, Dance Tonight, Calico Skies, Mrs. Vanderbilt, Eleanor Rigby, Sing The Changes, Band On The Run, Back In The USSR

Disc 2 (78:24):  I’m Down, Something, I’ve Got A Feeling, Paperback Writer, A Day In The Life – Give Peace A Chance, Let It Be, Live And Let Die, Hey Jude, Day Tripper, Lady Madonna, I Saw Her Standing There, Yesterday, Helter Skelter, Get Back, Sgt. Pepper Reprise – The End.  Bonus track, Citi Field, New York, NY – July 17, 2009:  I Saw Her Standing There (with special guest Billy Joel).  Citi Field Concert Promotional Spot

‘Rock the Citi Field 2009’ is a very good somewhat distant audience recording whose fidelity improves a bit deeper into the show. The high end fades in and out on “Jet” and the bass leaves a bit to be desired. McCartney addresses the crowd: “Good evening New York City. Welcome to the new Shea”. “Only Mama Knows” continues to grow on me after each successive listen and received warm applause. McCartney reflected about playing at Shea for the first time with The Beatles.

There is a rather annoying audible rumbling sound that surfaces intermittently. It’s as if the recording level was pinned on red. The highs, so far, also fade in and out making me wonder if the taper was holding a portable microphone while constantly in motion or simply breathing on the microphone at times. It’s a tough and frustrating listen at the start. The rumbling sound even surfaces between tracks.

I took copious notes as I was listening to the show from start to finish in one sitting while taking in the exhilarating US Open match between Melanie Oudin and Nadia Petrova on Labor Day. I was frustrated with the constraints of this audience feed and began to feel critical of McCartney. I noted that I felt that there generally wasn’t much variation in the musicianship with his recent shows and that I found myself, however, looking forward to finding nuggets that McCartney would unearth with his subsequent set lists or locking into any sequencing variations with the set lists.

McCartney, after the “Let Me Roll It” nod to Hendrix, reminisced about how Hendrix played “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” soon after The Beatles recorded it and that he heard Hendrix perform it live. Another one of McCartney’s new ‘Fireman’ tracks, “Highway”, has continued to grow on me and was played faithfully here. “The Long And Winding Road” received the most enthusiastic welcome of the evening up to this point. I was thinking that the draw with McCartney is being able to see him perform these tracks live.

The stage banter tends to repeat itself between shows but he is a ham and very capable of going off script to surprising results when least expected to. But first and foremost, he is the consummate entertainer and delivers the goods performance after performance. He received deserving applause for “My Love”. McCartney has also taken the trouble to communicate with his audience(s) in sort of “unplugged” fashion with intermittent historical anecdotes of late. He delivered a poignant “Blackbird’ maintaining the momentum of this concert. His voice broke down several times during his tribute to John Lennon, “Here Today”. I have never heard him break down to that extent during a performance. This is turning out to be quite a show and the performances are not letting up.

There was an interesting variation during “Dance Tonight” where I picked up on a brief “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” refrain. Great stuff. The primarily acoustic sounding renderings beginning with “The Long And Winding Road” continued with “Calico Skies”. There was a great transition to a powerful 4:32 minute “Mrs. Vanderbilt”. We need a soundboard recording here… McCartney, however, continues to hold his own through “Eleanor Rigby” in fine vocal form generating sustained crowd applause. He remarked about having to keep up with trying to remember the words and chords and trying to put it all together: “And you see the signs and your mind says not to look at them and then you see one – Marry me Paul – No!” which absolutely fired up the audience. “Sing The Changes” from the recent ‘Fireman’ album is a great track and delivered on the mark. His voice was piercing and so effective. The performance was strong. A frenzied sounding 5:12 minute “Band On The Run” followed. Disc 1 closes with an inspired “Back In The USSR”.

At the beginning of Disc 2, McCartney resurrected a blistering “I’m Down” that was also played during The Beatles first performance at Shea. A searing “Something” followed. This band has evolved and perfected this gem as evident with this tremendous version. They received quite the applause. McCartney made a point of drawing a reference to Frank Sinatra’s comment about “Something” being his favorite Lennon/McCartney track… Listen to the mesmerizing 5:44 minute “I’ve Got A Feeling” as they bring their performance level up another notch. McCartney, after this track, made another reference to the new Citi Field Stadium.

An interesting sequencing from “I’ve Got A Feeling” to an invigorating “Paperback Writer”. The transition between “A Day In The Life” and “Give Peace A Chance”, thankfully, was fluid and without a hitch. For those of you, myself included, who hold out for McCartney to properly finish “A Day In The Life” live, there is hope. He recently joined Neil Young on stage for Young’s 8: 24 minute harrowing rendition of “A Day In The Life” in Hyde Park on June 27, 2009. Check it out on You Tube. it is utterly fascinating to see those 2 collaborating there and, of course, to witness McCartney at least taking an active part in the climactic closure of “A Day In The Life”.

Back to the show. The band played an inspired and compelling “Let It Be” with the band sounding more relaxed and innovative. On “Live And Let Die” a flurry of perfectly timed fireworks exploded. Amazing. What a crowd response. A 7:18 “Hey Jude” featured some deeper and most welcome bass lines. The fidelity of this recording was upgraded here. The first and only cut came after “Hey Jude” and before “Day Tripper”. The band is really on for “Day Tripper”. Another fresh rendering follows with “Lady Madonna”. McCartney stated: Hey Saturday night. New York City. Citi Field”. The band is smoking through “I Saw Her Standing There”. McCartney gave a heartfelt “Thank you so much” leading into a perfectly timed and moving “Yesterday”. A few cat calls ensued and then the blistering guitar lead volleying of “Helter Skelter”. McCartney never ceases to amaze me.

I can’t quite fathom how this band, especially McCartney, continued to raise the bar track after track after track for this epic and momentous concert. In the middle of “Get Back”, McCartney asked the audience, as he always does: “Do you want to get back – Do you want to get back – Me too”. Afterwards he stated: “I have very fond memories of the first night and I have fond memories of tonight…There comes a time when we have gotta come home and actually you’ve gotta go home too”. Crew and Band Introductions briefly followed. Fittingly, the band close the show with “Sgt. Pepper Reprise – The End”, a great 4:30 minute jam. I didn’t anticipate  the 7-17-09 Bonus Track with Billy Joel, on a tight “I Saw Her Standing There”. The recording quality there, ironically, featured an overabundance of bass. The final track is a superbly recorded Citi Field Promotional Spot for the upcoming McCartney concert(s) reviewed up above. PCCD-070/071 is packaged with the label’s usual colorful thick inserts.  Wow!

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