Staging A Beatle

Catch Sir Paul McCartney at NYCB Live Nassau Coliseum on Sept. 26 and 27. (Photo by MJ Kim)

More than 50 years after the Beatles’ music turned the American pop charts upside down, the band’s legacy remains alive and well on the back of Paul McCartney and his undying love of live performance. The rock legend’s One on One tour, now in its second year, will make its way to Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday, Sept. 26, and Wednesday, Sept. 27, as part of a barrage of New York-area shows that also included stops at Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center. According to LeRoy Bennett, the creative director of the One on One tour, fans can expect a concert experience that, while visually appealing and exciting, keeps the focus where it belongs—on the music.

“With Paul, his musical history spans many decades,” said Bennett, who has worked with McCartney since 2001. “The Beatles changed popular music and really the world. Most people, when they listen to [McCartney’s] music, it reminds them of a specific time and place. If you look at our show, it’s all down to video and lighting that’s able to portray all of these songs as what they are. Each of these songs has its own story.”

Paul McCartney’s stage show is a lively sight to behold.

In recounting the process of collaborating with McCartney on the tour’s creative direction, Bennett described the bassist as an artist who “knows what he likes and knows how to express it. He’s a joy to work with.” Additions to the current leg of the One on One tour include video and animated renderings of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover, in honor of the landmark release’s 50th anniversary. Lasers and lights are prominently utilized during McCartney’s performance of “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” for a psychedelic extravaganza, and the stage will be layered in such a way that keeps a singular focus on Paul and gives concertgoers a more intimate experience amidst the cavernous arenas.

“I sit down with Paul, we get some one-on-one time and we talk about what’s new in technology,” Bennett said. “But we also just share some creative thoughts. He talks about things he’s seen lately that he likes—it’s a back and forth thing. Then, I’ll go away and work on some stuff. Eventually, we get to the point where we’re both comfortable with it. This show is kind of an evolution. Over several years, we’ve basically morphed it to what it is now.”

Tasked with condensing one of the deepest and most celebrated songbooks in the history of popular music into roughly three hours of performance time, McCartney packs his set with selections from his Beatles, Wings and solo catalogues, averaging around 38 songs per night. Bennett notes that, though the set list remains fairly consistent throughout the tour, McCartney sometimes has the urge to substitute songs, thus mandating that Bennett’s team be prepared for anything.

“We’ve got about 100 songs on the media server, because he may one day say, ‘We want to play this song.’ There’s a lot of textures of writing [in McCartney’s music] and it’s basically every song has its own unique look,” Bennett said, explaining that McCartney’s switching from electric, to acoustic, to piano-based songs, gives the concert a natural progression. “And that’s what keeps it going and gives it dynamics. Paul knows how to keep the set stimulating for the whole show.”

For Paul McCartney’s most memorable New York moments, see: Macca’s Major Big Apple Moments

Macca’s Major Big Apple Moments

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