Paul Plays The Apollo
But His Amp Gets Wings

By Tom Frangione

Now THIS is what makes for a Wonderful Christmastime !
Having reached the 20 million subscriber plateau, SIRIUS/XM satellite radio celebrated in grand fashion, announcing an exclusive concert event for its listenership, headlined by Paul McCartney at the legendary Apollo Theater.

Tickets were awarded by drawing, with a goodly number obviously reserved for SIRIUS/XM personnel, the McCartney camp, and other VIP's. In every way, SIRIUS/XM rolled out the red carpet for the event, giving complimentary commemorative t-shirts and lanyards to all attendees, as well as providing a pre-show open bar (beer, wine and soda) and complimentary all-vegetarian hors d'oeuvres (spring rolls, potato knishes, etc). In addition, post-show buses were provided back to Manhattan's major transportation terminals.

While contest winners had to go through a "check in" process (no doubt an effort to thwart scalping), SIRIUS/XM and VIP ticket holders could breeze right in. Upon entering the hallowed halls of the Apollo, attendees were greeted with posted announcements that the show was not only being broadcast live, but was also being filmed for future use.

At 7:45, SIRIUS/XM's CEO Mel Karmazin took to the on stage podium to welcome everyone. The concert began at 8:15 and ran exactly two hours, so it was about 2/3rd's of a "full" McCartney show as done on the recent "Up and Coming" tour. And while the set list drew heavily from the tour repertoire, there were a few surprises thrown in.

The set list was as follows:
Magical Mystery Tour
Drive My Car
All My Loving
One After 909 - a McCartney concert stage repertoire rarity (only previous post-Beatles performance was in 1995, as a duet with Elvis Costello)
Let Me Roll It / Foxy Lady (reprise)
The Long & Winding Road
Nineteen Hundred Eighty Five
Maybe I'm Amazed - Paul hadn't done this favorite in a long time. Perhaps not coincidentally, he flubbed the piano intro. Semi-apologetically, he started over.
I'm Looking Through You - one of the rotating acoustic numbers done on this year's "Up and Coming" tour And I Love Her - another of the rotating acoustic numbers done on this year's "Up and Coming" tour Petrushka - an improvised Russian-style folk song performed on mandolin
Dance Tonight
Eleanor Rigby

Next up was both a high- and low- light of the evening. Paul told of his affection for many of the acts that had graced the Apollo stage, and the band launched into a RED HOT version of Marvin Gaye's classic "
Hitch Hike". The performance was enhanced by a team of long-haired, sparkling mini-skirted dancers. What a treat (until the PA system got knocked out about midway through the take). A clearly flustered McCartney & band "rebooted" and the house system was apparently still not fully restored, giving off some serious microphone feedback which visibly startled Paul. After some final tweaks, the system was restored, the number started over, but the momentum was clearly drained. To launch into version two, Paul planted an "F-Bomb" into the first verse.

Recovering nicely for the second set,
the band performed:

Band On The Run
Back In The USSR
A Day In The Life / Give Peace A Chance
Let It Be
Hey Jude

For the first encore, Paul did the rarely performed (but quite appropriate) "
Wonderful Christmastime". An absolutely delightful performance, with the heavy-handed studio effects toned way down, making for a more straight-forward "rock band" delivery, embellished by the 20-strong Academy of Harlem Choir. Truly memorable.

Back to the standard set list, the first encore was rounded out with a ripping version of "
I Saw Her Standing There" and "Get Back".

The second encore boasted "
Yesterday" and an impromptu chorus of the "alternate" title, "Scrambled Eggs" (similar to the parody as performed with Jimmy Fallon on his late night show a week earlier). The set ended with the "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band / The End" medley.
As the house lights came up, the theater was showered with Christmas colored confetti.

The show was broadcast live on several of SIRIUS/XM's channels, including the month-long dedicated "Band On The Run " all-Macca channel. Encore performances kicked off at midnight following the show.

Special thanks to Lou Simon and Phlash Phelps


Image Credit: Kevin Mazur/

(Simone Joyner/Getty Image)