The Rock 'n' Roll Curmudgeon Rides Again! Paul McCartney at 76

By Mike Jurkovic

 Paul McCartney at Esprit Arena 2016 in Dusseldorf, Germany (Courtesy -

Paul McCartney at Esprit Arena 2016 in Dusseldorf, Germany (Courtesy -

Author’s Note: I’m hoping that many in the Hudson Valley & NYC region will recall my maligned musical musings as the Rock n Roll Curmudgeon, a monthly column of cultural insight and rock n roll ridiculousness that ran in Rhythm and News Magazine from 1996-2003.

Paul McCartney at 76
As we close in on the 50th anniversary of "Hey Jude" and The White Album, imagine Paul McCartney bounding across the global stage and not playing any Beatles songs. He's done it before on the Reeperbaum and at the Cavern. The Jacaranda in Liverpool. St. John's Hall in Lancashire. The Star Club. The Stanley Abattoir Social Club Dance. The Casbah Coffee Club. The Tower Ballroom in Brighton.

I've been obsessing over the following hypothesis forever, but most stridently since Friday, July 17, 2009. It was opening night at Citi Field - a for-the-ages show I was truly fortunate to attend with Emily and our two great friends Jodie and Jeff. Even with a dicey mix along the first base line, there was a surging spirit from the stage that rainy, celebratory night. It was the gut level feeling of man looking to bask in his achievements, yet, at the same time, cast aside all stringent fan expectation. The roiling evidence were the twists and turns of a lacerating and scorching “Helter Skelter.” The shredding fierceness of “Paperback Writer.” The relentless “Let Me Roll It” and the exultant, childlike wonder of “Sing The Changes.”

For over fifty years, McCartney - great humanitarian that he is - has always held his adventurous, creative fluency in check, held his deeper musicality at bay in favor of the people's hits. Sullivan, Madison Square, The Concertgebow. Shea, Wembley, the Vatican. Always the hits. Always the charming grin and chatter to make the girls swoon. Who in their right mind, you might ask at this late juncture, would want to screw with that?

Associates still alive ‘n kicking might recall how I came home from that first Wings rock show, his first NY appearance since the big Beatle bye-bye. Scalping my way into the nose bleed seats, Madison Square Garden, 5/24/76 and buzzing about the music and a girl named Maria, decked head to toe in Beatle memorabilia whom I sang with all night. (For the record, they performed five Beatles song that night and for most of the tour, unlikethe twenty-three out of thirty-six he performs regularly now.)

It’s nagged me through shows in '89, '90, & '93. It hit me again at Carnegie Hall for “Standing Stone” in '97. This idea of a no Beatles show came at me again at shows in '02, 04, ’09, ’10. Yankee Stadium 2011 seat 5, row 5, section 211, and at subsequent shows since.

When last I saw him (9/11/17) McCartney performed a nearly 3 hour, 36 song set (including encores.) Sooo, I’ve taken the nervy and painstaking freedom to arrange a setlist sans Beatles. I’ve also attempted to lay out the tunes as Macca might perform them, full band, solo piano, solo acoustic. I’ve also included the highest Billboard chart position, original album, and other ephemera I thought necessary to win you over to my side of the argument.

Now imagine, not one Beatles song:

1. My Brave Face                   
2. Helen Wheels                       
3. Jet                                        
4. Let Me Roll It
5. Ever Present Past
6. Drink To Me (Picasso's Last Words)
7. Sing The Changes

8. Call Me Back Again      (solo piano) 
9. Ballroom Dancing                "
10. Wanderlust                        "
11. We All Stand Together       "
12. My Love                             "
13. Maybe I'm Amazed            “
14. Queenie Eye                      “

15. The World Tonight
16. Nothing Too Much Just Out Of
17. New

18. Put It There              (solo acoustic)
19. Here Today                          "
20. Early Days                           " 
21. Calico Skies                         " 
22. Jenny Wren                          "
23. Ram On/Junk                       “
24. That Would Be Something   "
25. The Songs We Were Singing
26. Every Night

27. Too Many People
28. Tug Of War
29. I Can See The World Tonight
30. Band On The Run
31. Wine Dark Open Sea
32. No More Lonely Nights
33. Live And Let Die
34. Mull Of Kintyre
35. Fine Line
36. Hope of Deliverance

(#25, Flowers in the Dirt, 1989)
(#10, Band On The Run, 1973)
(#7, Band On The Run)
(concert staple since Band On The Run)
(a sharp, concise rocker from Memory Almost Full, 2007)
(Band On The Run)
(anthemic tune from Electric Arguments, 2008)

(New Orleans sway, Venus and Mars, 1975)
(Tug of War, 1982, Grammy Album of the Year)
(Tug of War)
(Rupert & the Frog Song, 1983 UK #3)
(#1, Red Rose Speedway, 1973)
(#10, McCartney, 1970)
(#27, New, 2013)

(#23, Flaming Pie, 1997)
(blistering distorted blues, Electric Arguments)

(New, 2013)

(Flowers in the Dirt)
(Lennon tribute, #46, Tug of War)
(Flaming Pie, 1997)
(Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, 2005)
(Ram, 1971)
(Flaming Pie)

(Tug of War)
(#64, Flaming Pie)
(#1, Band On The Run)
(Off The Ground, 1993)
(#6, Give My Regards to Broad Street, 1984)
(#2, 1973 Wingspan, 2001)
(Britian’s biggest single, Wingspan)
(#31, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard)
(#9, Off The Ground)