PAUL McCARTNEY: BACK IN THE U. S.
Review by Mark Wiechman
Stars: Paul McCartney
Director: Mark Haefeli
Audio: Dolby Surround 2.0 and 5.1, DTS
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Features: See Review
Studio: EMI Distribution
Length: 180 minutes
Release date: November 26, 2002
“Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they're here to stay
Oh, I believe in yesterday…”
I, for one, am very disappointed in our new millennium so
far. No hover cars, computers still crash, many diseases elude cure, and war has
returned instead of retreated. But
fortunately, some things have not changed. Paul McCartney can strum a guitar and
sing Yesterday, and the song is still as moving now as it was almost
thirty years ago. There is not a dry eye in the house when he intones this
anthem of unrequited longing. Rock stars often forget how much these songs mean
to us. They not only capture a moment in time, but also express things we long
to express, and bring forth emotions we may have long since forgotten we had.
Every time I hear a Beatles song, I remember playing it for hours and never
wanting. You can take away
everything a person has to call their own, but leave him his music, and he will
It is hard to believe that George and John are gone, and
Sir Paul McCartney will be 64 soon. We will still need him, and hopefully
someone will still feed him. Who else is there, really? Every once in a while
the best composer is also the most commercially successful, and no one else is
close to the gracefully aging composer of Yesterday, Here There and
Everywhere, Let it Be, Hey Jude, Silly Love Songs---do I really have to go
This concert sounds fantastic and will satisfy most fans,
however, it has some technical shortcomings (see below) and cannot make up its
mind whether the show should be the focus or the backstage.
Something that caught my eye right away, and which Paul
comments on at the very beginning of the program, is how many young fans are
coming to see him. Their screams and signs pledging their undying devotion to
the man look like Beatlemania all over again. These young girls do not even
remember the John Lennon assassination because they were not born yet! But
here is Paul performing his best solo tunes and his best Beatles compositions,
many of which neither he nor the Beatles ever performed. As he said in a recent
interview, everyone was waiting to see what the next big thing after Beatles
would be, and it turned out to be---the Beatles #1 collection.
While his voice is darker and the high notes a little tough, it is still
a great performance.
One of the most touching moments is toward the end of the
concert, all the tears welling up in the eyes of the audience---and me---to hear
the finest composer of modern times sing the best-selling and most-recorded song
ever, Yesterday. The song he heard in a dream in 1965 is still just as
moving to millions as it was then. It could also be said that the song's success
meant McCartney's true ascent in the Beatles and ended their perception of
themselves as a white R & B combo.
Hello/Goodbye, Jet, All My Loving, Live & Let Die, Coming Up,
Blackbird, We Can Work it Out, Here, There, & Everywhere, Eleanor Rigby,
Matchbox, Loving Flame, Fool on the Hill, Getting Better, Here Today/Something,
Band on the Run, Let Me Roll it, Back in the USSR, My Love, Maybe I'm Amazed,
Freedom, Let it Be, Hey Jude, Can't Buy Me Love, Lady Madonna, Long &
Winding Road, Yesterday, Sgt. Pepper's (reprise)/The End, I Saw Her Standing
It is hard to believe how poor the video quality is,
especially in shots of the audience where the light is poor. It does not ruin
the whole show of course, it is just hard to imagine why McCartney---the
executive producer-would allow such poor production. When watched after such
gorgeously filmed concerts such as the Yes Symphonic or the House of
Yes DVDs, you will notice the huge difference. Even the Woodstock DVD
looks better! I can only hope this
was done on purpose to give it a "vintage" look.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS presentations are loud and
the mix of the instruments and vocals are excellent. The musicians all sing backup wonderfully.
Not four stars because some of the tunes sound like they are only in
stereo, and this may have been caused by the constant interruption of the show
with more backstage footage, some of which is shown simultaneously with the
concert, to the detriment of both.
Most of the back stage stuff will only be interesting to
die hard fans. Haven't we seen all
this before in a dozen other music DVDs? The
"secret website" which you can access through DVD-ROM is interesting
because it has more songs, but why didn't they just put them on the DVD?
And you have to choose "special features" to pick which songs
you want. Why make this difficult?
And of course we have Paul introducing each section of the DVD, an
annoying feature of many concerts.