You don't often get the chance to see Paul McCartney perform in a venue that holds only a few hundred people, and those lucky enough to get into McCartney's "secret show" at New York's Highline Ballroom Wednesday night were treated to a lively show with a party atmosphere.
McCartney is promoting his new album, "Memory Almost Full," his first album for coffee retailer Starbucks Corp., and during the more than 90-minute set he played several tracks from the album, along with Beatles classics, solo favorites and some surprises.
"Memory Almost Full" debuted on Billboard's albums chart at No. 3 — his highest ranking since the No. 2 start for "Flaming Pie" in 1997 — and McCartney mentioned his album's rank after performing his single, "Dance Tonight."
The former Beatle celebrates his 65th birthday Monday, and the audience members didn't forget it as they serenaded Sir Paul with "Happy Birthday."
Much of the set featured up-tempo numbers that had the packed audience dancing and grooving along, but a poignant moment came when McCartney performed the ballad "Here Today" and dedicated it to "our fallen heroes, John, George and Linda," who, of course, needed no further identification.
His moving performance drew lengthy applause, and he noted that "It's nice to do this song in New York because it's where John lived and Linda was born." He didn't dwell on a somber note, switching immediately to a rousing version of "Back in the USSR."
McCartney bantered and played with the audience throughout the show. He sang the ending of "I'll Follow the Sun" four times before finally finishing the song, and performed a cover of rockabilly legend Carl Perkins' song "Matchbox" that was so infectiously energetic that even he was stomping his foot to it.
Shortly after that, he went to the piano and joked that it was the part of the night when it felt like a party and you get a little silly, and he pounded out the standard "Baby Face."
McCartney was joined by his usual band: guitarist Rusty Anderson, guitarist/bassist Brian Ray and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr., but keyboardist "Wix" Wickens was missing. He was replaced by a musician McCartney introduced as Dave. McCartney told the crowd that Wickens couldn't be there because he was rehearsing for a show for the queen. He feigned being insulted and said, "He's booked above my head."
At the end of the set, McCartney accepted flowers from audience members, and when he and the band returned for the encore, they all had rosebuds between their teeth. Just before launching into the last song "I Saw Her Standing There," McCartney told the crowd, "I hope you had a good time."
The fans roared their approval.
Here was the set list:
"Drive My Car"
"Only Mama Knows"
"The Long And Winding Road"
"I'll Follow The Sun"
"That Was Me"
"Back in the USSR"
"Nod Your Head"
"House Of Wax"
"I've Got A Feeling"
"Let It Be"
"I Saw Her Standing There"