As a Beatle, Paul McCartney famously performed everywhere from Shea Stadium in New York to a rooftop in London. But it's as the recipient of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song that Sir Paul finally headlines the White House, playing his hits for President Obama and the First Family on In Performance at the White House (tonight, 8/7c, PBS). "Paul fills arenas and stadiums, so to transfer that electricity to the intimate setting of the East Room was a challenge," says executive producer Peter Kaminsky.
Challenges aside—and despite the suits and ties—the concert still rocks out, thanks to tribute performances by a variety of artists. The Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl storms through Wings' "Band on the Run," Elvis Costello interprets "Penny Lane," and the Jonas Brothers ignite "Drive My Car."
"It was such an incredible experience. Paul has always been an inspiration and hero to us as a band and as songwriters," says Joe Jonas, who ranks the JoBros' latest trip to the White House as their "most memorable."
Still, it's McCartney who steals the show—and perhaps the First Lady's heart. He dedicates the Beatles' "Michelle" to Mrs. Obama, who is captured singing along with her husband and children. It's that accessibility that is the appeal of McCartney's catalog, Kaminsky believes. "Everyone in the audience, from the First Lady's mom to their kids, all knew the Beatles' songs," he says. "It's a common language that everyone speaks."