By bringing Paul McCartney’s current roadshow into America’s living rooms via the tube and radio simulcast, Fox is again sending the message that anything the Big Three networks can do, it can do better. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for McCartney, whose perfunctory readings of mostly Beatles material was neither special nor an event, despite show’s billing as the “concert event of the summer.”
An upright piano with a Peter Max paint job and a riser framed by lava lamps were among the accoutrements McCartney and crew used to remind us that he has apparently decided to acknowledge his tenure in the Fab Four.
The singer has obviously heeded fans’ requests to include more material from that era in his show, as Tuesday’s program was heavy with Beatles numbers. McCartney largely ignored his days in Wings and played only a handful of cuts from his latest Capitol Records offering, “Off the Ground,” a surprising move considering the disc’s lackluster sales apparently require every conceivable push be utilized.
Broadcast from the Blockbuster Pavilion in Charlotte, N.C. (delayed on the West Coast but live elsewhere), McCartney’s performance was pleasing but unspectacular. Many commercial breaks returned to just-ending songs, while the radio simulcast on the Westwood One radio network (KLSX in L.A.) confused listeners with its own promotional agenda.
Filmed shorts, either showing McCartney on the set of a video shoot or visiting the Abbey Road Studios, were more intrusive than informative. They often appeared even when it was clear that the action was on the stage, not in the trip down memory lane.
The two-hour, commercial-heavy broadcast may have been better served by a run on PPV or HBO, and by McCartney mixing up, rather than rehashing, his now-fa-miliar live show.