"Andy Warhol predicted we'd all be famous for fifteen minutes. This was it." - Paul McCartney, from the side of a semi truck in the middle of Times Square, like somebody's charming, historical grandfather.
Paul McCartney, greatest living Beatle, just performed a fifteen minute surprise set of material from his upcoming album NEW in Times Square. He announced it himself through Twitter about a half-hour before he was scheduled to start, giving just enough time for a theoretical music blogger living in Williamsburg to get on the train and secure a spot about fifteen feet away. If you are going for short notice and maximum impact, probably the place to do it, hipness be damned. There were no oldies, no "Hey Jude" or even "Jet", but in this situation it's the height of entitlement to walk out grumbling. Confirming the flesh and blood humanity of a cultural icon is enough. It was a true kick! He could die next year, and we'd all be so sad. :(
I'd wager a lot of money that his current band—no spring chickens, but probably each about fifteen years younger than Paul—were serious power-pop heads in the 70s, raised on pop forms that McCartney helped establish. The Beatles are maybe the only act in pop history so universal that if someone tells you they don't like them, you can safely assume they are being a disingenuous asshole. The new album's songs, which I honestly still have no real burning desire to hear on record, were crisp and fun and super melodic. I'd say "Beatles-esque" if it wasn't douchey. Wings-esque?
For maybe the first time ever, I felt sorry for the people on those double-decker tourist buses. They edged behind the closed side of the truck, taking pictures of a crowd taking pictures, and will probably only figure out what they were missing once they Google it later. Pretty much everyone there tried to take pictures, and most succeeded only in taking them of other people's outstretched arms, taking pictures. If my phone wasn't out of battery I would have done the same, in the name of journalism! (More accurately, in the name of not knowing what to do with my arms most of the time.) If a meteor struck the middle of midtown, people would probably Tweet some amazing pictures of it before impact, fiery oblivion.
Bad news: That thing where people hold up their iPads to record live concerts? I don't think it's going away.
Pics and a setlist at Brooklyn Vegan.