"Who is he?" With barely any notice Oct. 10, Paul McCartney and his band, on a long truck parked in the middle of Times Square, was just a busker and surprised New Yorkers by performing songs from his “New” album in a short impromptu free concert Thursday. The show, which began around 1:15 p.m. ET, didn't last more than 20 to 30 minutes.
According to Fred Velez, who was on the scene and took some of the photos in the slideshow, he performed only songs from his upcoming "New" album: “New,” “Save Us,” “Everybody Out There” and “Queenie Eye.” Velez estimated roughly 3,000 people witnessed the concert. He said New York City police were on hand to maintain order.
“Paul McCartney just finished a mini concert at Duffy's Square in New York's Time Square, playing songs from his upcoming album 'New'. He started with the title song and did three other numbers from the album,” he said. "The crowd was large and enthusiastic. Some folks didn't know it was him and asked, 'Who is he?'. Paul didn't perform any Beatles or other solo songs. I couldn't get close enough and managed just to snap a few photos. It was a nice way to spend a gray day in New York.”
The late announcement of the show certainly caused a frenzy. About an hour before the show was to begin at roughly noon, McCartney's Twitter account posted, “Wow! Really excited to be playing New York Times Square at 1pm this afternoon!” He followed that up around 1 p.m. when the show was to begin with, “Come on down to Times Square... It's all going to be happening there!”
Those trying to follow the show using the Times Square webcams were frustrated in trying to see it because the cameras did not show the actual performance, though they did show the rear of the truck they were using as a stage. However, the sound could be heard in the distance and was very echoey when it didn't drop out completely. But technical problems in the form of video freezes, presumably because of all the people trying to access the show online, made watching difficult and some people gave up trying to see it.
Meanwhile, critics raves for the "New" album are coming in. Both Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone have given very positive reviews. Rolling Stone rated the album four stars, saying "'New' feels energized and full of joyous rock 'n' roll invention. More than a sentimental journey, it's an album that wants to be part of the 21st-century pop dialogue."
And Entertainment Weekly gave it an A minus, saying, "'New' is as apt an album title as you'll find: Not only does it announce McCartney's first batch of original songs in six years, it also celebrates the idea that pop music can still invigorate, inspire, and surprise — even if you had a hand in inventing it."
It was McCartney's second surprise for New Yorkers in two days. On Wednesday, he gave a semi-private performance at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in an auditorium named after Tony Bennett.
Read all the news about Paul McCartney's “New” album in our special Beatles 101 "Read All About It" news roundup.
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