Paul McCartney played a highly entertaining 2 1/2 hour set Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, showing why he has had the staying power to flourish for five decades. Whether he played Beatles classics or Wings favorites, he made the audience very happy.
Never stopping -- even to take a break for a drink of water on stage -- McCartney shifted between keyboards, bass and electric and acoustic guitars.
What really stood out was the high quality of his singing voice all night long.
It didn't matter whether he was screaming Helter Skelter or pounding out Back in the USSR, Live and Let Die, Day Tripper, and Lady Madonna or crooning My Valentine, Your Mother Should Know and And I Love Her. He shifted to acoustic guitar for Yesterday and Blackbird and the crowd was with him on every chord change.
McCarntey sounded terrific on The Long and Winding Road, Let It Be, and Hey Jude. He closed the show with the medley from side two of Abbey Road, driving the audience wild and finishing on a high note. His terrific band -- which has by now played with longer than John, George and Ringo did as The Beatles -- soared on every song. He didn't miss a note.
Abe Laboriel Jr., the lively drummer, is a pleasure to watch because he has a lot of natural skill and boundless enthusiasm. Brian Ray and Rusty Anderson shine on the guitar solos and Wix Wickens can transform his keybaords into any kind of sond necessary.
As much as anything else, McCartney is the ultimate crowd-pleaser. He played many songs in New York for the first time, including Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!, All Together Now and Lovely Rita (my personal favorite moment of the show).
The opening song Eight Days a Week, segued into Junior's Farm and All My Loving.
It may sound like heresy but I actually preferred the post-Beatles songs because McCartney appeared to give those tunes a little more oomph. It was as if Paul knew his audience would go crazy over any Beatles song but he would have to work more to get the post-J, P, G & R songs across.
Maybe it was like how parents regard a child with special affection when they know that the kid isn't quite the equal of his or her remarkable siblings. Paul seemed to get a lot of pleasure out of singing Mrs. Vanderbilt (the Russian people's favorite Macca song, he said), Let Me Roll It, Listen to What the Man Said (another highlight), Another Day (a wonderful surprise) and the timeless classic Maybe I'm Amazed.
So many songs. So many fab moments.
Paul McCarntey has no peer when it comes to making an audience very happy.