Last night, to celebrate breaking 20 million subscribers, Sirius XM got Paul McCartney to play the Apollo Theater in Harlem for the first time ever. He was pretty geeked! Paul: “I know it’s special to you New Yorkers. To us British boys, it’s really special.” As a tribute to the venue, in the middle of the set McCartney and his crack backup band went into Marvin Gaye’s “Hitch Hike.” It was going pretty well for a bit: A minute into the song, a backdrop was raised and attractive ladies in sixties nightclub outfits performing cartoonish choreography were revealed, but then the vocals went out and a massive squeal of feedback came on, and everyone on the stage freaked out. Paul played it off, though, graciously waiting for the tech team to figure it out while riffing effectively, “Are there any comedians in the room? Anyone who can come up and do five minutes?”
Rampant banter and loose vibes were present throughout the two-hour, 27-song set that had McCartney skipping between bass, electric and acoustic guitars, the piano, and a ukulele. Before playing “One After 909,” he explained that it dated back to when “Me and John used to get together and write songs at my house. This one was written in the front parlor at my old house at Forthlin Road.” Then, afterward: “That takes me back. Long ago, in Bethlehem. [Pause.] Not quite Bethlehem.” Later, after hitting a wrong note in the intro to “Maybe I’m Amazed”: “Now see if you can spot the deliberate mistakes … I know this. I wrote this.” And after wrapping up “Yesterday,” acoustic and solo, he nodded to his Fallon appearance: “Now the original version: Scrambled eggs / Oh my baby how I love your legs / but not as much as I love scrambled eggs.” Best of all, though, was the set’s surprise inclusion of his cheesy holiday jam “Wonderful Christmastime.” “Oh, it’s Christmas, it’s New York, it’s the Apollo,” Paul said by way of explanation.
The show wraps up a week of New York activity for McCartney, including SNL and Late Night, before heading back for some U.K. shows. Hopefully he had time to see Times Square!