If Paul McCartney were to play a concert featuring every single one of his songs — from the Beatles to Wings to solo material – he’d be facing days of endless performing.
That is a preposterous idea and a physical impossibility, but it illustrates just how much music McCartney has to choose from when he curates his set lists. There’s an entire decade’s worth of Beatles songs to be considered, a catalog that already holds enough diverse material to last any artist a lifetime. Then there are eight albums of songs by Wings, who also enjoyed immense success in their 10 years together — every one of their albums landed in the Top 10. And as if that weren’t impressive enough, McCartney has a full solo discography to pull from, too, ranging from his 1970 solo debut to his most recent studio endeavor, 2020’s McCartney III.
So, it’s understandable that some fan favorites may not make the final set list. (Even though McCartney, at 79 years years old, is still performing shows with close to 40 songs in them.) Having recently launched his Got Back Tour, which will take him across the U.S. until mid-June, McCartney has already offered up a mix of timeless classics, newer material and everything in between. The list below, however, takes a look at 10 of the best songs McCartney has not yet played on his current tour.
From: Band on the Run (1973)
The exclusion of “Jet,” the lead single from Band on the Run, is surprising, given its standing status in McCartney’s set lists. The song is ranked in the top 15 of his most played songs – 464 times, according to Setlist.fm. “Jet” was last played in concert in 2019, although McCartney reportedly ran through at least some parts of it at his VIP soundcheck on May 6. Band on the Run is still being represented on the Got Back Tour with “Let Me Roll It,” “Nineteen Hundred and Eight-Five” and the album’s title track. (Allison Rapp)
9. “Paperback Writer”
From: 1966 Single
The energetic “Paperback Writer” arrived during the sessions for Revolver but was rush-released as a single instead and not included on the album. It made its live debut during the final Beatles tour in 1966. Nearly three decades passed before McCartney resurrected it: During his 1993 tour supporting Off the Ground, McCartney dug further into his Beatles past, pulling in songs that hadn’t been performed in years. After the conclusion of the 1993 trek, the song went back on the shelf until 2009’s Coachella Festival. “Paperback Writer” remained in McCartney’s lineup for tours that followed, making its most recent appearance in Buffalo in October of 2015. (Matt Wardlaw)
8. “Listen to What the Man Said”
From: Venus and Mars (1975)
Found on the second side of Wings’ 1975 album Venus and Mars, “Listen to What the Man Said” was a regular staple when the band hit the road later that same year for the Wings Over the World tour. It remained in the set through the following year when the trek wrapped in London that October. By the time they returned to the road in late 1979, the song had been excised from the set list. Outside of a handful of isolated performances of the song in the late ‘80s, McCartney didn’t return to the horn-infused track until 2012. It was a consistent presence during 2013 and 2014 tour dates, eventually dropping away again after a solitary airing in 2017 in Newark, N.J. (Wardlaw)
7. “I Saw Her Standing There”
From: Please Please Me (1963)
There’s no mistaking that something big is about to arrive after McCartney counts off “One, two, three, four!” in the opening track from the Beatles’ 1963 debut album. “I Saw Here Standing There” is the perfect embodiment of the spirited rock music that swept fans off their feet in the early ’60s. In his 2021 book, The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, McCartney called the early single one of the best songs he and John Lennon ever wrote. He last played it on his 2019 tour, so it still may surface sometime this year. (Rapp)
6. “Too Many People”
From: Ram (1971)
“Too Many People” has significance for several reasons. As the opening track on Ram, the only album credited to Paul and Linda McCartney, it shows the ex-Beatle fully coming into his own as a solo songwriter following the uneven, lukewarmly received McCartney. It also finds McCartney taking thinly veiled swipes at his former bandmate John Lennon with lines like “Too many people preaching practices.” Granted, the diss track probably wouldn’t jive with longtime set-list staple and Lennon tribute “Here Today” or the newly integrated virtual duet “I’ve Got a Feeling.” Still, McCartney did play it during his 2005 tour, so he clearly must see its musical merit, as do his hordes of fans. (Bryan Rolli)
5. “Day Tripper”
From: (Single) (1965)
“Day Tripper” was released as a single on the same day as Rubber Soul and is certainly a crowd favorite, immediately recognizable from its opening guitar riff. The song was first performed live by the Beatles on their December 1965 tour of the U.K. and could be heard until they retired from touring in 1966. At a show in Cleveland that August, the song caused such a frenzy that several thousand fans broke through security barriers, forcing the band to take shelter backstage until the crowd could be subdued. (A similar scenario occurred at New York’s Shea Stadium nine days later.) Safety and order are easier to maintain these days at McCartney’s shows, but “Day Tripper,” typically a set-list mainstay, has yet to be heard in 2022. (Rapp)
4. “Eleanor Rigby”
From: Revolver (1966)
The Beatles classic “Eleanor Rigby” has been a staple of McCartney’s sets over the years, ranking in his top 10 most-performed songs in the past 40 years. Originally released in 1966, the track quickly became a fan favorite thanks to its descriptive lyrics and distinctive string arrangement. Perhaps he’s grown tired of singing about lonely people, or maybe the Baroque pop is simply an odd fit among McCartney’s current set list. Whatever the reasons, McCartney seems to have abandoned Eleanor at the altar. (Corey Irwin)
From: Help! (1965)
Shocking as it may be, the most covered song in history hasn’t been played by its author during his current tour. “Yesterday,” the Beatles’ 1965 hit, ranks among the most beloved songs in rock history. The melancholy tune spent four weeks at the top of the Billboard chart, has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and has earned more money than any other song in the Fab Four’s vaunted catalog. According to Setlist.fm, McCartney has played the song more than 620 times since 1982, making it his sixth-most performed song in that time frame. Still, he has eschewed it so far in 2022. (Irwin)
2. “Venus and Mars/Rock Show”
From: Venus and Mars (1975)
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more quintessential rock ‘n’ roll concert opener than “Venus and Mars/Rock Show.” The opening one-two punch from the Wings album of the same name found McCartney embracing his newfound arena rock god status circa 1975, drawing listeners in with a folky acoustic intro before exploding into a barnstorming hard-rock spectacle on par with the likes of Queen, David Bowie and Led Zeppelin (whose guitarist, Jimmy Page, gets name-checked). “Venus and Mars/Rock Show” served as McCartney’s show opener on 2010’s Up and Coming Tour, but it’s otherwise remained conspicuously absent from his set lists except for three shows in 2012. (Rolli)
1. “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”
From: Ram (1971)
We can’t blame McCartney for opting out of playing “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” on the Got Back Tour. Its shapeshifting, Beatlesque arrangement and sonic flourishes are difficult to recreate live, and its soaring “Haaaaands across the water” refrain is a beast to sing in your 20s, let alone your 70s. But what’s truly baffling is that he’s never played the song live, according to Setlist.fm. You’d think McCartney would have been keen to perform his first solo U.S. No. 1 hit and gold record, one that showcases all of his whimsical pop smarts and deceptively clever songwriting chops. It seems unlikely that he’ll reverse the 50-year drought now, so this one will just have to remain an at-home playlist staple. (Rolli)
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