Since Liverpool is his hometown and it was a special show celebrating the city being Europe’s Capital of Culture this year, it wasn’t at all surprising that McCartney pulled out a couple of left-field choices in the June 1 show there, opening with the old Beatles Cavern standard “Hippy Hippy Shake” and doing the acoustic number “In Liverpool,” which previously was only ever heard on the DVD of the “Liverpool Oratorio.” Neither of those choices seemed like something that would stick as part of the tour set list over the long haul, and indeed both were dropped for Saturday’s show in Kiev. On the other hand, the inclusion of “A Day in the Life”/“Give Peace a Chance” in the encore as a tribute to John Lennon has the feel of a tour standard. (Macca paid tribute to George Harrison with the Concert for George arrangement of “Something,” in which he starts out doing it solo on ukulele and then is joined for the big guitar solo and the remainder of the number by the full band. And “My Love” was done “for Linda.”)
For the Kiev concert, which unlike Liverpool was a full-length show, Macca did essentially the same set, subtracting the numbers mentioned and adding a few other songs he’s done on tour before, plus “Only Mama Knows,” which along with “Dance Tonight” (done in Liverpool) makes two from last year’s “Memory Almost Full” album.
The surprise selection in Kiev was a tune McCartney never has done in concert before, “Mrs. Vanderbilt” (the “ho, hey-ho” song from “Band on the Run” for those of you who are rusty on your Wings album tracks). That song apparently was performed because it was the McCartney number most requested by fans on a Ukraine Web site (it appears to have been a particular favorite in the former USSR). But here’s hoping it won’t end up a site-specific choice like “In Liverpool,” because it’s a terrific tune that’s been ably arranged and works really well live, much like another obscure choice, “Too Many People,” on his last major tour. I’m hoping it’ll still be part of the set when Macca hits North America, providing a treat “for the Wings fans,” as Paul is wont to put it.
To see “Mrs. Vanderbilt” performed in Kiev, with a Macca introduction in Ukrainian (he says “We were asked to perform this song”), go to:
NEW TRACK: While on the subject of McCartney, he’s made available a previously unreleased track as a gift for those who contribute to Adopt-a-Minefield through his Web site. The offer originally was supposed to expire June 12 but has been extended through the 19th. The track, “Lifelong Passion (Sail Away),” is from a forthcoming album done under Macca’s Fireman pseudonym. But where the two previous Fireman albums were offbeat “trance” music strictly for the hardcore fans, the new track is a full McCartney vocal effort, a bit reminiscent of Enya. It opens and closes with harmonica, and in between there’s lots of synths and pipes soaring over Indian-influenced percussion in a sort of Indo-Celtic blend. The result is very soothing and has a memorable melody. Looks like it could be a very interesting album.
BROADCAST LOSSES: The sudden death of NBC Washington Bureau chief and “Meet the Press” moderator Tim Russert was a real shocker and leaves the Peacock Network scrambling to replace him in both jobs during a presidential campaign. Russert was a consummate pro and I appreciated his quiet, steady style though I was never a major fan and haven’t watched “Meet the Press” in decades. I was touched more by the recent death of longtime ABC sportscaster Jim McKay, whose affable, eloquent work over four decades made him a true broadcasting legend. Besides his many years introducing us to “the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat” on “Wide World of Sports,” McKay was the host of ABC’s Olympics coverage during the years when I really got caught up in the story lines of those athletes, particularly 1972 and 1976. And, of course, McKay was responsible for one of those burned-in-your-brain TV moments when he had to announce that none of the Israeli athletes kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Games had survived. The look on his face as he said, quietly, “They’re all gone,” summed up how the rest of the civilized world was feeling at that moment. The only McKay memory that I wish I hadn’t seen was on one of the more recent Olympics when NBC borrowed an aged, retired McKay and trotted him out for an embarrassingly rambling monologue. I winced watching it. I prefer to remember McKay at his peak when he was the very best in the game.
AT THE MOVIES: My daughter and I did see “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” and I thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly the interplay between Harrison Ford’s Indy and Shia LaBeouf’s Mutt, who (no real spoiler here) turns out to be Indy’s son by “Raiders of the Lost Ark” love interest Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). Having Marion, by far the best of the “Indy” women, back again also was a real treat, once you got past the initial shock of seeing what an actress in her mid-50s looks like without any cosmetic surgery. (Allen has been away from Hollywood for years, running a knitting business and acting in local theater in New England.) The extended chase was good (though no chase will ever match the one in “Raiders”). The climax was a bit predictable and the Commie bad guys are fortunately no better shots than the Nazis were in “Raiders” and “The Last Crusade,” but the Lucas-Spielberg creative team wrapped things up nicely at the end (with a hint to possible future adventures with Mutt taking over the fedora). Overall, I’d rank this one second in the series behind “Raiders.”
QUICKIES: It’s about time the media and business world told those rightwing nutjob bloggers and “commentators” like Michelle Malkin to take their lunatic ravings and go away. That whole flap with Dunkin Donuts pulling a Web commercial featuring Rachael Ray because Malkin and her ilk decided the black-and-white scarf she was wearing around her neck resembled the kaffiyeh, the traditional Muslim headwrap favored by the late Yasser Arafat, is just too ridiculous. First of all, I never saw Arafat or any other Muslim wearing anything with a PAISLEY design and FRINGE! Jeez, can we get the grownups back in charge? … A dispiriting sign of the times is that the BBC has dropped its second longest-running TV program, “What the Papers Say,” a weekly review of British newspapers, because, they concluded, many folks don’t bother to read newspapers any more. Which reminds me of our family’s mantra in steering our children away from the field their parents have labored in for decades: Friends don’t let friends major in journalism. … TV Shows on DVD, a Web news site, reports Time Life is working on the long-awaited release of “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” on DVD. Fans have been clamoring for these shows for years, but because of the difficulty in clearing all those musical performances, it’s been slow going. Time Life apparently isn’t going to do complete-season sets unfortunately, but instead will do “best of” compilations, beginning for some reason with the controversial third season that saw the brothers and CBS part ways over censorship issues. I wish they’d find a way to put out the whole series, but any “SmoBro” is better than none! … I always thought it was ludicrous that the record labels would send out promotional copies of their releases to reviewers and broadcasters but maintain that they retained “ownership” of the discs and you couldn’t re-sell them (a restriction that was, of course, widely ignored). The labels’ position was that they could ask for the discs to be returned at any time (not that I ever heard of them doing so). So it was interesting to see this past week that a U.S. District Court judge rejected the Universal Music Group’s efforts to stop an eBay trader from selling promo discs. The judge said the trader was protected by the “first sale” doctrine in copyright law, which says that once a copyright owner gives away a copy of a CD, DVD or book, the recipient is entitled to re-sell it. Universal will appeal, of course.
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