Paul McCartney

Back in the U.S. [DVD]

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This is a cleverly designed DVD of the only concert movie by Paul McCartney to capture the joy and urgency that those who were around in the 1960s still associate with his music. Incorporating light shows and multi-screen displays, the 2002 concerts themselves -- with McCartney in top form musically and backed by a first-rate band -- were a celebration of 40 years of rock & roll, the artist roaming his entire repertoire across 30 songs, some of them intercut with very short audience interviews and reactions, backstage activities, etc. The movie is edited so well that the interview segments with the bandmembers don't slow matters down at all, so carefully assembled are the performance clips around and within those interviews. The sound is killer, up close and personal whether it's a full-band sequence on a scale that Wings never dreamt of, or McCartney doing Beatles songs on a solo acoustic guitar, and the song selection is filled not only with surprising choices but also some eye-opening arrangements, such as his impromptu rethinking of George Harrison's "Something" on ukulele. The three-hour production covers nearly every base there is, and the DVD includes as a bonus feature three utterly uncharacteristic but totally satisfying songs from a soundcheck. Overall, there are just so many high points to the performance and the movie that naming them would be impossible, although the live performance of the closing suite from Abbey Road may be in a class all of its own. On a technical level, the layer transition is so smooth that one will hardly notice it, and the menu is cleverly designed and easy to maneuver around. The makers seemed bent on making this a total-immersion experience for the fans, and the entire disc is well-nigh essential viewing for fans of McCartney or any of the music involved.