The Space Within Us

Paul McCartney

It‘s now a given that behind every major rock and roll tour, there’s a DVD or two in the works to document the whole sordid affair. No one is more aware of this than Paul McCartney, whose concert runs of the last few years have produced any number of concert DVDs loaded with shots of the fans, a cross-generational hybrid of young and old; mostly unknown and obscure with a few famous faces like John Cusack and Billy Joe going gooey over the most prolific Beatle of them all. For his 2005 trek through the heartland, the metropolitan sprawls, and abroad, Paul McCartney had the extra weight of a new and remarkably well-received album called Chaos And Creation In The Backyard to support. Though these days seem darker with divorce and despair for the cheeky one, The Space Within US, the obligatory DVD behind the‘US’ tour, should lift the spirits of any McCartney aficionado.

Unlike previous McCartney DVDs, The Space Within US utilizes the best technology available to enhance the performance footage to the highest standard. More than 25 HD cameras, the thunder of 5.1 digital surround sound, and the ability to trasnmit it all to the international space station have a lot to do with that. As for the songs, the singer/songwriter reaches deep into his songbook and pulls out some real plums — “Too Many People,” “Fixing A Hole,” “Till There Was You,” and “Helter Skelter” among them. He holds nothing back when it comes to the new material, rolling out “Fine Line,” English Tea” and “Jenny Wren” with ease and confidence. With his steady band of five years — Rusty Anderson (guitar/vocals), Brian Ray (guitar/bass/vocals), Paul 'Wix' Wickens (keyboards, guitar, accordion, vocals), and Abe Laboriel Jr. (drums, vocals) — the then 63-year-old McCartney still fires off one hit after another with unparalled energy and enthusiasm. But will we still need him when he's 64?

During lulls and breaks, dignitaries, scholars, crew members, and big names like President Clinton, Tony Bennett, Herbie Hancock, Eddie Vedder, and Alec Baldwin all get their jabs in, either hanging out and singing with McCartney, crying or commenting on how monumental he is. It’s all a bit self-serving to hear this over and over again. The personal, on-stage wake-up call to to the international space station before going into “Good Day Sunshine” merely elevates the man to startling new heights. Then again, the footage that shows him falling in a hole in the stage presents a human side that supposedly brings the whole blown-up image down to earth. It just goes to show how much overtime the PR specialists working for the most famous musician in the world put in. Fortunately, once you jump past all the fluff, there's 35 minutes of bonus material and featurettes, including new interviews with McCartney and his band, the pre-concert film, and sound checks. That and the actual performances are the meat and potatoes of a visually stunning, wall-shaking disc well worth an evening in front of the tube. Don’t forget to crank it up and pour yourself a cold one.

~ Shawn Perry

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