NEW YORK (AP) — Commuters with tickets to ride out of New York’s Grand Central Station heard a special serenade on Friday evening, with Paul McCartney taking over a corner of the majestic hub for a concert.
Only invited guests including Jon Bon Jovi, Meryl Streep, Amy Schumer, Kate Moss and Steve Buscemi were let behind black curtains to see the stage, but everyone could hear a 24-song set that spanned more than 50 years of music.
It was a stunt to promote a new album called “Egypt Station.” McCartney said he wondered “what’s the coolest station we could think of?” and settled on the Manhattan landmark. The band set up under a chandelier and in front of a giant clock, just off the 42nd Street entrance.
Despite grey streaks in his famous mop top, the 76-year-old former Beatle was in fighting trim.
He performed familiar hits like “Let it Be,” ”Can’t Buy Me Love,” ”A Hard Day’s Night” and “Lady Madonna.” He also dug deeper into his songbook for “I’ve Got a Feeling,” ”Hi Hi Hi” and “1985.”
While he played three songs from his new album, McCartney did more from the 50-year-old White Album. The sweaty, dancing crowd hardly minded the trip back in time.
McCartney may be the world’s most famous musician, but he’s also human. Seemingly nervous as he stood on a riser in the middle of the audience with an acoustic guitar for one song, he flubbed the words to “Blackbird” not once but twice, starting over both times. Surrounding fans, famous and non-famous, knew all the lyrics and coaxed him on.
“I know this song,” he said in frustration. “I wrote it!”
Before singing the Beatles’ first single, “Love Me Do,” McCartney told of his nerves singing the chorus and that he can still hear it in his voice when he hears the recording.
Flash forward a half century, and he talked about a writing session with Kanye West. After a few days in the studio, he wasn’t sure they even had a song. A few months later, West sent him a copy of “4, 5 Seconds” with Rihanna on lead vocals.
“I rang him up and asked, ‘am I on this song?’” McCartney said, and West said it included his guitar. At Grand Central, McCartney reclaimed it.
Some members of the Beatles’ extended family were on hand. Sean Lennon, the son of McCartney’s late partner, was in the audience. So was McCartney’s wife, Nancy Shevell, and he dedicated the song “My Valentine” to her. Giles Martin, the son of longtime Beatles producer George Martin, was handling the concert’s sound.
For a new song about bullying, McCartney invited two women from the audience to tell their stories about being treated poorly. “I got made fun of for being a Beatles fan,” one of them said.
That earned her a Beatle hug.