Paul McCartney live: The Concert For New York City, Madison Square Garden, New York City

Paul McCartney performed at Madison Square Garden in New York City, USA, on 20 October 2001.

The event was The Concert For New York City, a benefit concert in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks the previous month.

McCartney organised the concert, which also featured stars including The Who, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Bon Jovi, Jay-Z, Destiny’s Child, The Backstreet Boys, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Melissa Etheridge, Five For Fighting, Goo Goo Dolls, John Mellencamp, and Kid Rock. Paul Shaffer was the musical director, and celebrities and public figures including Adam Sandler, Howard Stern, and Rudy Giuliani appeared in between the musical acts.

When I did the 9/11 Concert For New York, that was so astonishing in terms of the audience reaction. I can’t think of any other show that was so amazing in that way. You had a city, a country, in so much shock and fear about terrorism… after this attack on their own land which hadn’t happened since Pearl Harbor. There was such a powerful, emotional feedback that really turned us on as a band. Moments like that, it’s what it’s all about. That’s where the wonder is, I’ve never grown out of that. None of us should. Because it’s powerful shit when people are that into you.
Paul McCartney
Uncut, July 2004

McCartney wrote the song ‘Freedom’ ‘Freedom’ in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. On the morning of 11 September 2001 he and Heather Mills were on an aeroplane waiting to leave New York for England, when terrorists truck the Twin Towers and all flights were grounded. From his window McCartney could see smoke rising from the towers.

I witnessed the last moments of the World Trade Center twin towers. Out of the window of the plane I could see the towers smoking and in flames and, like everybody, I could not believe what was happening.

As the airport was then closed, I stayed in New York for a week after the attack and I was able to also witness the tremendous heroism that has come out of the city, including the bravery of the firefighters and police officers. I have great admiration for the courage all of those guys showed. I feel a connection with the firemen because my father was a volunteer fireman in Liverpool during World War Two.

Paul McCartney, 10 October 2001

During the concert McCartney performed ‘Freedom’ twice – firstly with his band, then again as an encore with the rest of the performers including Eric Clapton on lead guitar.

McCartney then took the live recording into New York’s Quad Studios, where he re-recorded his vocals, added a new bass guitar part, and taped a new guitar solo. The result was known as ‘Freedom’ (Studio Mix).

McCartney’s band was Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens (vocals, keyboards, guitar, percussion, harmonica), Rusty Anderson (vocals, guitar), and Abe Laboriel Jr (vocals, drums).

McCartney had previously performed at Madison Square Garden with Wings on 24 and 25 May 1976, and during the Paul McCartney World Tour on 11, 12, 14, and 15 December 1989.

He returned there for the Driving World Tour on 26 and 27 April 2002; the US Tour on 30 September, 1, 4, and 5 October 2005; the Concert For Sandy Relief on 12 December 2012; and the One On One Tour on 15 and 17 September 2017.

The Concert for New York City poster, 20 October 2001

Concert setlist

Last updated: 26 January 2024
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