Deconstructing Paul

Can a 71-year-old ex-Beatle offer something new?

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When Paul McCartney asked how many people packing Miller Park on Tuesday night were from Milwaukee, loud cheers erupted. When he asked how many were from Chicago, the cheers were even louder, perhaps to compete with boos from the Milwaukee folks.

Wherever the fans were from, they got to enjoy yet another marathon show from the indefatigable 71-year-old in sweltering conditions not unlike those at his two Wrigley Field appearances two summers ago. The news on this tour is that he's playing five Beatles songs that neither he nor his former band had ever performed live. But how are he and his voice holding up?

Some listening notes from Milwaukee:

1. "Eight Days a Week"

McCartney and band get the sing-and-clap-along energy going with this 1964 single that John Lennon deemed "lousy" in his 1980 Playboy interview. Although it never previously cracked a Beatles or McCartney set list, it proves a happy, effective opener.

2. "Junior's Farm"

3. "All My Loving"

Man, McCartney's voice sounds good. Oh, those falsettos …

4. "Listen to What the Man Said"

This New Orleans-flavored 1975 Wings hit appeared on the recently reissued 1976 live album "Wings Over America" but had been in mothballs till this tour. McCartney's touring band of 11 years gives it the right groove and bounce, though Paul "Wix" Wickens emulates the original sax parts on a synth.

5. "Let Me Roll It" (with a Jimi Hendrix "Foxy Lady" instrumental coda)

This "Band on the Run" track and McCartney concert staple keeps getting harder and heavier — a good thing.

6. "Paperback Writer"

7. "My Valentine"

McCartney dedicates this, his credible stab at an old-fashioned pop standard, to wife Nancy Shevell in the audience. Released on last year's "Kisses on the Bottom" album, it's the set's newest song by 30 years.

8. "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five"

McCartney lets out a huge "Yeaaaaah!" as he pounds the piano while powerhouse drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. pushes the beat during the song's extended climax.

9. "The Long and Winding Road"

Here's my nit to pick with McCartney: He notoriously hated Phil Spector's overblown production on this ballad, and the spare "Let It Be … Naked" version was released as a corrective, yet when he plays the song live, he has Wix synthesize the Spector orchestrations. At least there's no choir.

10. "Maybe I'm Amazed"

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