Paul McCartney at Highline Ballroom
If Paul McCartney was wondering if fans still need him now that he's 64, on Wednesday night New Yorkers answered: "Yeah, yeah, yeah!"
The former Beatle, who turns 65 next week, wowed more than 900 fans – including Aidan Quinn, Steve Buscemi, Elijah Wood, and Whoopi Goldberg – at New York City's Highline Ballroom.
In Manhattan to promote his new CD, Memory Almost Full,
McCartney opened the 90-minute show with the classic Beatle tune "Drive My Car," instantly throwing the crowd into a frenzy that escalated throughout the evening.
"It was the perfect way to see Paul McCartney," says fan Joyce Raber, 50, "It was like being invited to an intimate party at Paul's house and being treated like the guest of honor."
The concert was free: no tickets and no scalpers.
Instead, hundreds of red wristbands were given away through radio station contests and on a first-come, first-serve basis at the ballroom just hours before the concert. Fans had started camping out on the sidewalk the day before.
McCartney went on to perform songs from his new album, as well as such classics ballads as "The Long and Winding Road," "Hey Jude," "Let it Be" and "Blackbird," as well as the rockers "Back in the U.S.S.R.," "Get Back" and "I've Got a Feeling."
There was also a bittersweet moment: McCartney paid tribute to his deceased bandmates John Lennon and George Harrison and his late wife Linda, dedicating to them a heartfelt rendition of his song "Here Today," which he wrote after Lennon's assassination.
"It's nice to do that song in New York," McCartney told the audience. "It's the city John loved, the city Linda was born in ... and the city where we played The Ed Sullivan Show.
McCartney, who is going through a divorce
from second wife Heather Mills, ended the show by taking a bow with his backup band and saluting the audience with a double-handed peace sign.
"I hope you had a good time," he said, thanking his fans for coming. He put his hand over his heart and, with a sweeping gesture to everyone in the room, said, "We should do this more often!"