York • Thursday, February 10, 1972

ConcertBy Wings • Part of the Wings University Tour
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United Kingdom
University of York

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The day before, Wings had driven from Nottingham (where they had performed their very first gig at lunchtime) to Leeds, where they intended to play at Leeds University. But the plan failed.

The press was made aware of their plans and their contact at the university wanted a proper contract and a £250 fee. They decided to change their plans and left Leeds to go to York (they would return and play in Leeds a few days later, on February 16).

Paul McCartney: After Nottingham, we decided to go pro and ring Leeds ahead, but it never came off because the fellow wanted a contract, proof of who we were, assurances. So sod it. We went back to the old idea – random. We carried on to York. They couldn’t give us the big hall, so we took the dining hall.

Linda McCartney: We stayed at a lovely old hotel near the race course. The children bore up well. They’ve done a lot of this sort of thing with us, only without gigs.

From the “Wings Over Europe” tour book

Wings arrived at York six hours before stage time. The evening show took place in the dining hall of York University’s Goodricke College. 500 students attended the gig, with a further 400 listening outside.

Review by Rob Watkinson, taken from Maccazine 2019 47-1 The Birth Of Wings:

Normal life on York University Campus came to an abrupt end today after Paul and Linda McCartney were seen, by many students, strolling around the lake.

News spread by word of mouth that Wings were to play even before the group’s roadies walked into the Students Union Entertainments Office and asked ‘Can we play a gig here tonight?’ The band had come up from London via a concert in Nottingham, in a small van. Inside an hour of the news breaking, a modest stage had been set up in the Dining Hall of York’s Goodricke College and the roadies had the gear (including a mixer) ready to use. Shortly afterwards the McCartneys retired to borrowed college rooms to relax before the concert. By supper, the tension in the university was at hysteria level.

A queue, almost a quarter of a mile long, had formed and many people were involved in aggressive line-jumping disputes during the one-and-a-half hours that they had to wait in the bitter and cold drizzle. Taking into account that there was no official publicity whatsoever, the response was staggering. Everybody knew that there was a Beatle on the campus. Just after 8 o’clock the doors were opened but, owing to fire-risk hassles, not everyone was allowed in and the unlucky ones pressed their faces to the windows. Obliging friends inside drew the curtains so that they could both see as well as hear. When it eventually got underway, though, the concert was a bit of an anti-climax. From the outset, almost no one danced despite the heavy, primitive quality of the group’s music. There was tremendous applause after a rendition of Lucille, the Little Richard classic, and Henry McCullough played and sung Blues In A which was equally well received. Early on in this first part of the set, Paul took part in a sarcastic exchange with an official who actually got on the bandstand and asked Paul to tell the audience not to dance. “They are not dancing”, said Paul, his remark provoking a few people to get up and bop at the rear of the hall. Throughout the first half, the overall sound was distinctly uninspiring. Most of the songs they played were new, like Paul’s “The Mess I’m In”, which was most reminiscent of The Band’s “The Shape I’m In”. Many people described it as a ‘straight rip-off. ‘ Paul announced that they were proud of it and would probably, as they hadn’t been “going very long, ” repeat it in the second half. The song was, in fact, repeated

in the second half, as was the version of the group’s new single Give Ireland Back To The Irish. The second half also brought a performance of Wild Life from Wings’ last album, and apart from these, all the songs were new, a little unmemorable and, at times, boring. After having prepared the audience for an early departure, Paul went into a rip-roaring version of Long Tall Sally which was a nostalgic, if slightly sad, experience. As soon as the number was over, Wings fled the stage to substantial applause and calls for more. However, for those who’ve heard an audience that really wants more, it was not completely convincing. Throughout the concert, Paul and the band worked hard to look like a small-time on-the-road-set-up. The music was early 60s dance-rock, with Paul playing elementary bass riffs and bellowing in that old familiar way. Linda held down some simple chords on the piano and sang very badly out of tune for the most pan, as did Denny Laine. Henry McCullough rarely sounded or looked as exciting as he did with the Grease Band and Laine was a bit of a disappointment when bearing in mind his imaginative chord tunnels and stylish lead work with Ginger Baker’s Air Force. Denny Seiwell, the drummer, was good (though he wasn’t asked to do much more than Ringo was on the first Beatles album), still, the overall sound, particularly during the first spot, was mucky and a suitable balance was never really achieved. Some blame for this, however, can be put on the hall’s abysmal acoustics. On reflection, it is difficult to see what Paul is up to. Much of his new material is like the simple rock and roll that characterized the early Beatles albums. This getting back to the roots may be an honest and beneficial activity for a musician with Paul’s background, but it makes the integration of Henry McCullough — a guitarist from the white-blues school — difficult. Henry never really opened up, yet one felt, had he been given his head a little more, the whole sound might have been enhanced. Throughout the performance, Wings failed to overcome a certain note of incongruity symbolized by the variety of backgrounds from which the band drew its personnel.

Review by Rob Watkinson – From Maccazine 2019 47-1 The Birth Of Wings
From paul mccartney archive on Twitter: “it’s the 50th anniversary of the wings playing at the university of nottingham, which set off their university tour of 1972. “the uni was nearby so we showed up there. our roadie went up to the bar & said, ‘I’ve got paul mccartney in the car park, wondering if he can do a gig’.” https://t.co/hHfnRhUtLX” / Twitter
From Twitter – A rare photo of Paul McCartney on stage at Goodricke College Dining Room, The University of York, England, on Thursday, 10 February 1972. Technically the third stop on their unplanned university tour, after press attention prompted an about-turn in Leeds.

Wings stayed in York, at the Chase Hotel, that night, and would depart the following day to Hull. Linda McCartney wrote the following notes in her diary summarizing this day:

Feb 10th
to Leeds
made reservation in advance
metropole Hotel
Press found us
Leeds Uni wanted
Contract + £250
so after a
sick nite (Henry + me)
Lots of smoke + play in room
Feb 10th – to York
Got gig Goodricke Port
dining room – stayed chase hotel excellent

Linda McCartney’s diary – From “Wild Life” deluxe edition book, 2018

From University of York, 50th Anniversary website:

The 1970s was the decade in which college social life began to blossom.

Central Hall was the venue for the Who, The Kinks, Fairport Convention, John Martyn, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Hot Chocolate, Humphrey Littleton, Acker Bilk, Paul Tortelier, Julian Bream, John Williams and others.

Paul McCartney and Linda appeared one day out of the blue with their new band “Wings” and performed a concert in Goodricke College Dining Room.

From Record Mirror – February 19, 1972

The next day saw them at York University. Paul had driven out of Leeds where he had been due to play, because of too much publicity, and booked into the Dining Room at York’s Goodricke College only hours before his concert staffed. Despite the publicity ban students crowded into the room and another 300 were locked out as Wings went into a two-hour routine which built up from a subdued start to wild bop in the final Long Tall Sally. It was vintage McCartney, who on occasions looked as though he had gone straight back to the early Beatles days as, minus beard and with hair cut short, he again sailed through straight rock numbers such as Lucille and one or two Presley favourites. There were reggae overtones in songs from his LP including the title track Wild Life. Judging from the way both the audiences appreciated the performances, the group looks a winner live.

From Melody Maker, February 19, 1972
From Melody Maker, February 19, 1972
From Wings Wild Life | Paul McCartney & Wings

About the setlist

The exact setlist for this concert (and for most of the concerts of the Wings’ university tour) is unknown. Only two audience recordings surfaced on bootlegs (one for the first concert of the tour, in Nottingham, on February 9, 1971; the other one for the concert in Hull, on February 11, 1971), even if all the concerts had been taped by the band.

The gigs were pretty much the same. We taped them all.

Denny Laine

We didn’t have many songs. To be precise, we had eleven, which – at about three minutes a song – is a 33 minute act. They wanted longer so we repeated things. ‘We’ve had a request to do Lucille. We did it earlier but now we’re gonna do it again for Jenny Babford on the science course’. Whatever. We just repeated things, especially our new single Give Ireland Back to the Irish. The gigs went quite well but it’s funny to look back and realise that we had such little material.

Paul McCartney – From “Wingspan: Paul McCartney’s Band on the Run

The setlists were a mix of new songs, oldies and some blues jams. Paul McCartney made sure to not play any Beatles song. It’s likely the setlist of this concert was similar to this:

Last updated on July 27, 2023

University of York

This was the 1st and only concert played at University of York.

Too bad, there is no song listed for this concert. If you've been there, help us fill the set list for this concert by writing a comment!

Going further

Wings Live - On tour in the 70s

This is the first detailed study of Paul McCartney's Wings on tour in the 1970s. It covers every single concert from the University Tour of 1972, ending with the abandoned tour of Japan in January 1980. A wide variety of primary sources have been consulted, including all available audio and video recordings; press reviews; fan recollections; newspaper reports and tour programmes.

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Maccazine - Volume 47, Issue 1 - The birth of Wings

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"In this issue we take you back to the early days of Paul McCartney’s solo career when he decided to form a new group. With Wings he proved there was life after The Beatles. This Maccazine features a detailed timeline of ‘the birth’ of the band with interesting entries including many new facts and unpublished photos. Follow-up timelines will be published in the upcoming years."

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Andrew Davies 2 months ago

I was watching the concert from one of the outside windows near the stage. I agree with the review that the quality of the band was not that great. They were very much in their infancy still learning. Paul did say as he introduced Long Tall Sally that this has to be their last song because after singing it his voice is done

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