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4:16 • Live
Concert From the concert in Arles, France on Jul 13, 1972
It was certainly a nice surprise for one of the top collectors in Beatles and solo recordings when he was presented with a very good tape of one of the first Wings concerts on the European continent in the summer of 1972. In fact none of the first four concerts which were held in France have been available in the collectors’ field up till now.
From an interview done in Chateauvallon we know that Paul, belying his hard-to-meet reputation, sat down in the open air, with an arm around Linda, ordered a scotch and coke and talked about “how he wanted to start the tour in France and end in Finaland because the British and American audiences are a bit more critical, unlike tonight’s audience, who are just coming out for a good time. I just want to be ready, that’s all”.
There was no hiding how happy McCartney was to be back on the road. He had hired a London doubledecker bus, with an open hood, to take his band through the Continent. No longer worried about the adulation that still surrounded him, he said: “I’ve always wanted to do something like this. When it was the Beatles we never had time. Now I can sit up there and enjoy the good weather and the countryside”.
Paul’s hair was fairly short and Linda sat at the keyboards, golden hair catching the colours of the everchanging stage lights. On the stage there was a giant Persian carpet and a huge cinema screen was stretching up into the night behind them. Colourful films of Scotland, the landing on the moon, wheeling gulls and deep diving men were continuously played on the screen.
The musicians were still “on trial” during the beginning of the tour and at times it showed, like the poor guitar solo during “Hi, Hi, Hi” or the out of tune backing vocals in “My Love”. But that, as McCartney said, was the main reason why they were starting here. Most pressure, of course, was upon Linda. She had written a reggae song on her own, called “Seaside Woman”. As Paul said: “I’m glad she wrote that. Just for Sir Lew Grade’s sake. You see I don’t believe he thought she could write. I think he thought I was doing it in her name”.
Paul spoke to the audience in what might be described as Liverpudlian French, hastily swotted up backstage. “Le (sic) prochain chanson” which sounded like “Prussian Song”.
The Arles show is different from the later shows, in so far that it includes a song known before to collectors to have been performed only during the University Tour in February 1972: a cover of the Sonny Boy Williamson tune “Help Me” sung by Denny Laine, which will be replaced by “I would only smile” on later dates. Also the song order is slightly different, most notably with “Henry’s Blues” being performed as fourth song in this set, while “Wild life” is absent.
Anyway the quality of this tape is superior, if we consider other 1972 live recordings we have, and the only complaint is that, even though the show is presented in its entirety, a few spoken introductions have been cut off the original tape. From a good source we learnt that the photo which was used on the cover of the French “Jet” single was taken at the Arles concert.
Paul played several newly-written songs, including one of those pleasantly soft McCartney-styled ballads, “My Love”, which he sang sitting at the piano looking across at Linda who was centre stage playing a tambourine. Certainly his best work of the night was “Maybe I’m Amazed”, taken from his first solo album.
The main lesson to learn from this unique evening was that McCartney was happy again, and willing to show it, in public. Probably it annoyed Paul that “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “With a Little Help From My Friends” were played over the PA system just after the concert ended, since he had already distanced himself from playing Beatles tunes live. The first time Paul would perform a Beatles song on stage was only three years later during the 1975 UK tour. (And not like Americans like to believe during the Wings Over America tour). Money-wise Paul was hoping Wings would have made a profit from the tour although it seems doubtful considering the size of the entourage and the relatively small halls they were appearing in. Top tickets price was 20 French Frances – about £1.25 at that time – hardly enough to offset the expenses which included a specially built open-topped London bus, used by the group to drive around Europe, complete with psychedelic décor inside and out.
OK, sit down now and take a listen to this newly found gem (if you haven’t done already), enjoying the best quality so far for a 1972 audience recording.
Last updated on August 21, 2010