Paul McCartney is preparing to take the stage Friday night (Sept. 15) for the first of two sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden, part of his historic eight-show run in New York City. McCartney played two nights at the Prudential Center earlier this week (Sept. 11 and 12) and will play a second Madison Square Garden show on Sunday (Sept. 17).
From there he heads to Brooklyn's Barclays Center where he performs Sept. 19 and 21, and then two more shows at NYCB LIVE at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island, Sept. 26 and 27. If that weren't enough he's also heading upstate for a one-night stop at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse on Sept. 23.
"I always sit down with Paul to discuss what he’d like to do and where he’d like to play. He always comes up with great ideas and loves to try and do something a little different," said Barrie Marshall with Marshall Arts, McCartney's long-time promoter who is working with AEG/Bowery Presents on the epic run.
"Being able to play all four venues — eight shows — in the same month was great and it’s always nice to be the first artist to achieve this," Marshall said. "As most know, the New York area is like a second home for Paul – so it’s really special for him."
McCartney is the first artist to play all four major arenas on the same tour leg and stage eight shows (nine if you count the Syracuse show) in such a short window in New York. Part of that is the relative young age of some of the buildings — the Barclays Center opened in 2012 and the Prudential Center opened in 2007 and Nassau Coliseum re-opened earlier this year after being dark. While some artist have done multiple plays in the market at Barclays Center and the Garden, the former Fab Four member's epic NYC run is a testament to the power of his music with the Beatles, Wings and his own long and successful solo music career.
"Paul’s enjoyed fantastic success and amazing audiences in all the stadiums in the state – but felt it would be great to reach out to the local communities immediately surrounding these great arenas – and in effect, take his music to the people in their own neighborhoods," Marshall tells Billboard. "The intimacy of playing arenas creates even more of a personal rapport between Paul and his audiences, which really reflects his chosen One on One title for the tour."
Legendary production and lighting designer LeRoy Bennett did all of the stage design and created the experiential elements for the One on One tour, which officially kicked off in July in Miami and heads to Detroit after the New York shows.
Bennet helped create a new section of the show to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band which include original animations and video content and hundreds of lights will illuminate the crowd as McCartney is suspended in air above the audience for select acoustic sets. Bennett’s signature, semitransparent LED screens known as V-thru will be placed throughout the stage, adding depth and a 3-dimensional feel for the audience.
Bennett, who has also worked on tour and stage design for Bruno Mars and was nominated for an Emmy for Lady Gaga's Super Bowl halftime show, helped McCartney create the “Bayou Shack” section in the middle of the show creating the feeling of being in a House of Blues type venue instead of a large arena. In the past he used physical elements and props to achieve the look, but this time he utilized LED technology to create this environment. Another highlight, Bennett noted, is the Beatles song “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” which uses lighting, lasers, and video effects to create a magical spectacle.
Even the start of the show has symbolism explains Marshall.
"The fact that the first show was on 9/11 was particularly poignant, given how involved he was at the time of the tragedy," Marshall explains. As McCartney opened the Newark show, he told the audience "We are against the oppression and prejudice and violence," according to Rolling Stone. "We are for love and friendship and freedom," he said before displaying a "9/11 Never Forgotten" banner, along a U.S. flag, a U.K. flag and a rainbow flag.
"His opening words on that night were a reminder of how crucial friendship and freedom remain in the world," Marshall tells Billboard.
Could McCartney have made money if he had played all eight shows at the same building? Perhaps, but Marshall said that wasn't the point and that despite the logistical challenge, was happy to move the 22-truck show around and constantly load in and out of arenas all across NYC.
"Instead of this being a competition of venue versus venue, each one embraced being a part of quite an historic visit by Paul – covering all four corners, and ensuring that their clientele had the opportunity to attend. This means it was a win-win situation from the first conversations," Marshall tells Billboard.
On the AEG/Bowery side, the shows are being co-promoted by Allen Corbett and Mark Shulman.
"For our team at Bowery Presents, we cherish every opportunity to work with Paul McCartney and produce shows for an artist who defines legendary," Shulman tells Billboard. "In collaboration with Marshall Arts from initial promotion concept to final presentation, the collective meticulous attention to detail results in a show with no rival, night after night."
?McCartney covers a lot of ground in his marathon 40-song, three-hour shows, playing both Beatles and Wings hits, along with deep cuts like 1980 synth-pop oddity "Temporary Secretary" and pays tribute to Jimi Hendrix with an instrumental guitar jam of "Foxy Lady"
"Everyone feels proud and privileged to be a part of these shows. For myself and the Marshall Arts team, it’s always an honor," Marshall says. "The brilliance of Paul’s repertoire is unending. His concerts provide a special escape from the pressures of life and, in my experience, it’s a musical journey which transcends all generations, and sees everyone who leaves each concert feeling joy, which endures long after the last notes are played."