16 October, 2009

THE SPACE WITHIN US – Paul McCartney (2006)

The third installment of the trilogy of live DVDs produced and directed by Mark Haefeli delivers what the others had only promised. It's still as much a tour film as a concert film, with songs interspersed with behind the scenes footage, fan profiles, and comments from famous fans about the great man. This year's selections include Cameron Crowe, Steve Jobs and Bill Clinton. And while it's done with a fraction more subtlety than previous attempts, it still leaves you wondering what the point is. For a start, they're preaching to the converted. And after three volumes, it seems as though these live DVDs are not so much concert films as a fan manifesto - a campaign presentation for why Paul is the greatest, punctuated with musical interludes. It's all so completely unnecessary. Guys, if you want to show that Paul is the greatest, just let the music and performance speak for themselves. The cavalcade of celebrity endorsements and fan profiles just makes it look like you're overcompensating for something.

As for the music, this disc really is the best yet. Paul has mixed the set list up so that it keeps plenty of crowd-pleasers but avoids the safe predictability of the 2002 set. The most welcome surprises are rarely performed songs including Too Many People, I'll Get You, I'll Follow the Sun, I Will, and Please Please Me plus a revival of Till There Was You. Not only that, but the selections from the new album are proudly played alongside the classics as they deserve to be, rather than all shoved in the middle as if they're some kind of intermission. It all takes place on a truly inspired piece of staging. He's going to have a hard time topping that one. Or perhaps not. I've thought that before.

Mercifully, there is no interruption to the music this time around. All the songs are allowed to play out before we cut to a family getting ready to go see the show. (Why?) Actually, that's not strictly true. Hey Jude and Let It Be are heard only as background music to some interviews, but that's forgivable since the songs are not cut into and both of them are available on at least five other DVDs.

For once, the interviews with Paul himself offer some insight too. He speaks several times on the subject of everyone coming together and of common sense prevailing. It's as almost if he's attempting to atone for pandering to post-Sept 11 jingoism on the 2002 tour and DVD. If so, all is forgiven.

Extras-wise, we have three soundcheck performances – Whole Lotta Shakin', Friends to Go and How Kind of You – the preshow film, a refreshingly candid short on the making of the show and a collage of the tour on the road. Here's a suggestion on the latter: if Paul wants to maintain his cred as an environmentalist, he really ought to get over the old 70s cliché of having chopper shots of a dozen trucks blocking the highway while he climbs into his private jet on the other side of the split screen. At least tell us they're on bio-diesel.

But aside from such clichés, (still WAY too many shots of the audience), this is still the best live DVD Macca has produced. You'll wonder what anyone ever saw in Back in the US.

Highlight: Too Many People, and an impromptu tribute to another famous left-hander
Feature: * * * *
Extras: * * * ½

Previously posted at Strawberry Fields.


  1. Great review Bill. I am a fan but not very crazy about Paul McCartney solo stuff to be honest. I don't have this DVD but after this review I think I will buy it. Thanks.

    "Mercifully, there is no interruption to the music this time around. "

    This is so important!

  2. Thanks.
    You might like to wait until the new one comes out. Being a companion disc to a live album might mean it's a proper concert film. Or not.... we can hope.

  3. I think Paul's more concerned about his legacy than putting on a good show. I don't know if he includes all those celebrity praises for him or us. He must know how much he's loved so maybe he's making sure we all know.

  4. Paul does put on a great live show and I'm sure he prides himself on it, it would just be nice if it showed up on one of his live DVDs.