Oxford • Saturday, May 12, 1973

ConcertBy Wings • Part of the Wings 1973 UK Tour
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United Kingdom
New Theatre

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Linda The Unloved?

May 19, 1973 • From New Musical Express

Press conference

May 12, 1973

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From Liverpool Echo – Monday 14 May 1973

Wings at oxford: At last the old magic works 

I DOUBT if anybody who made it to the Wings concert at Oxford on Saturday was left with the least lingering reservations – Paul, Henry, Linda and the two Dennys have the signs pointing towards a sudden and dramatic rise to the very top.

By the time their set wound up to it’s all too early climax there was hardly a soul in the packed New Theatre still in his seat every able-bodied member of the audience seemed to be flooding down the aisles to the stage, and a couple of extra-determined fans even made it briefly to Paul before being pulled away by roadies. It was just like it used to be.

Wings’ triumph – and, after the years in the cold, a special triumph for Paul was no foregone conclusion. The audience offered a cool, though sympathetic, round of applause when the dapper five followed Brinsley Schwarz and a cheerful tap dancer onto the stage and, even after a rousing Big Barn Bed (from Red Rose Speedway) had set feet a-twitch, it was a sure thing that Oxford was not going to give its heart lightly. “It’s all those intellectuals,” said Denny Seiwell after the show.

Any fears that Paul might follow his TV spectacular and put too much reliance on the schmaltzy side of his talents were dispelled as the show rolled on and it became increasingly apparent that what Wings are all about is good, tightly-rehearsed rock and roll.

Just as they promised, there’s no ego-tripping solo virtuosity but the traditional short, well-arranged song. It’s like turning the clock back to hear vocals that aren’t running a poor second to a thunderous roar of amplification, and, unlike most bands, Wings paced their act to perfection fast and slow, meaty and lighter numbers were blended to maximum effect.

It’s hard to say which were the most successful numbers, but you can at least say that the first number to get everyone off the ground was Wild Life probably the heaviest number in the act, it hung together like a haunch of Aberdeen Angus and for the first time, Paul pulled out all the stops and showed that he can still bellow out a rocker with all the fire of 10 years ago.

Early attempts to coax the audience into singing along on Seaside Woman, a reggae composition from Linda, didn’t meet with any success, but by the next number a jaunty C Moon reservations were shed and the first waves of cheering broke out.

By now the barriers were well down. The Live And Let Die theme (after which Henry fell over one of many humorous moments in the show), Maybe I’m Amazed, My Love, Go Now and Say You Don’t Mind – yes, the Colin Blunstone song followed in rapid succession and everyone seemed loose, enjoying the party atmosphere which had settled in, and in no mood to fault the odd bum note that crept in here and there.

When Paul, who’d shared the announcements with Denny Laine throughout the evening, asked everyone to get up and shake their bums around, whatever it was time for the audience to do their bit there was no hesitation, and off we went into two rockers Hi Hi Hi and Henry’s The Mess I’m In which would have got a statue treading a happy measure. Out came the roadies, tossing frisbees and an enormous red balloon out into the stalls, too quickly for it to sink in that this was supposed to be the end.

As an encore, Long Tall Sally, the perfect rock and roll song, put the seal on the show – Paul howled his lungs out while the band’s sheer funk was something to wonder at. It was as if all the Beatle mania had never happened – here was a happy band prepared to work its balls off and give everyone a good, honest show, and it couldn’t help but do the trick. We’ve been waiting for something like Wings for a long time.

From Record Mirror, May 19, 1973
From Record Mirror, May 19, 1973

“Well, I wish you whatever it is you wish yourselves and I think we’re all up too late so let’s go home to bed.”

James Paul McCartney had been sitting in the main lounge of The Randolph Hotel, Oxford, answering endless bland questions from a troupe of cautious, eager not to offend reporters and having flash-bulbs explode in front of eyes constantly for well over two hours and the effects on the interviewee were beginning to show. Linda, too, who had been at McCartney’s side throughout the press conference, began to lose interest in the proceedings and gently urged everyone to break it up so that they could all get some sleep: “Being on tour’s fun,” she smiled, “we love it, so we got to keep healthy.

Last Saturday was Paul McCartney day in Oxford. The old pub at the back of the New Theatre had been buzzing since opening time with McCartney fans and outside the hall itself, a long queue had gathered long before the doors opened at 7pm.

It was Wings’ second gig of their current 14 day tour of the Provinces. The previous night they’d been in Bristol and it had been the same, if not even more hectic, than tonight.

“Touring’s always pretty much the same but when you’re with a big band there’s always many people around who you’ve never seen before. Like this press thing here is just incredible – nobody seems to know what’s going on. People rushing round all excited,” grinned Jack Brinsley Schwarz’s Glaswegian roadie, surveying the scene in the lounge of The Randolph. The Brinsleys were invited to Wings on the tour because, as one floppy-hatted, long-skirted lady from the McCartney office suggested “they warm an audience up so much and get everybody in a very kind of laid back frame of mind. They’re also a bloody good band,” she added with real intent.

Happily for the Brinsleys, most of the audience were in their seats in time for the beginning of the concert thus having the visual assurance at least that all attention was not being focused on the McCartneys and Wings alone. Accordingly they played a solid, entertaining set but without much of the fire that the Brinsleys instil into the more captive audiences of smaller gigs where they can build on atmosphere and achieve a real communication.

By the end of their hour long set, however, BS had succeeded in everything that the floppy hat and skirt had said they would. The applause was warm and gratifying, though no encore.

First on stage was Henry McCullough who bounded from the wings to pick up a guitar from the four neatly arranged in front of the guitar amps before the rest of the band followed suit and lost no time in launching into an unidentified opening rocker by the end of which a little of the tension which had built up had died and people seemed to be breathing more easily.

What came next was “Big Barn Red” from “Red Rose Speedway” and it also happened to be one of the best performances of the whole set, even though the sound mixer hadn’t quite sussed out the hall’s boomy acoustics. Working the closest with McCartney in Wings is Denny Laine. As a backup vocalist, he fits in nicely with PM’s piping, crystal clear delivery and they also seem to share a taste for the same modes of improvisation. In this respect, as might be expected, Wings are a uniquely melodic band who’ve proved they’re deeper and have more to offer than a handful of Paul McCartney songs as their only motivation for making music.

Another song from the new album called “When the Night” followed which was highlighted throughout by Denny Seiwell’s rock-steady drum strokes and by one beautifully lavish guitar solo from Henry. The following three numbers were put over in quick succession – “Wild Life”, Linda’s “Seaside Woman” and the last Wings single “C Moon” – all receiving no introduction.

Midway through the set Paul switched from bass to piano and led into a bare-bones rendition of the “Live And Let Die” theme, a piece of pop music de luxe which was favourably received. “Maybe I’m Amazed” and a near-disastrous version of “My Love”, during which Denny Seiwell unnerved the timing by dropping a stick, and again the applause came good and loud but there was still a gulf between the group and the audience which prevented any kind of positive atmosphere from being established. Oddly enough, it was McCartney’s introduction of two Denny Laine songs that seemed to draw the most response, “Go Now” and “Say You Don’t Mind” were the surprise inclusions in the set, the first coming as a crafty piece of nostalgia and the second as a singalong vehicle with some pokey guitar sounds a la McCullough helping things along.

Look,” announced McCartney suddenly, “you’ve been a great audience and we’ve been having a time but it really is alright if you wanna get up and dance, shake your ass or whatever — it’s cool. We’ve got a couple of rockers coming up so let’s be havin’ ya.” The effect of course was guaranteed. Half the hall, half hesitantly got towards the stage to the raucous guitar intro of “The Mess” followed smartly by “Hi, Hi, Hi”, the last song before the band slipped away and the curtain came down. Two minutes later it rose again for the encore – a heavily weighted version of McCartney fans’ favourite rocker “Long Tall Sally”. “That’s it“, bubbled Paul. “We’ve no more songs to play you. See you the next time we’re in Oxford. Goodnight.

The press party that followed the gig probably yielded more in the way of actual talking points than the concert. The boozing got off to a sour start when a china plate accidentally connected with Brinsley Schwarz’s upper lip during a loon with Henry McCullough which necessitated his removal to hospital to have a brace of stitches inserted in the wound. The other highpoint was when an ice sculpture of a pair of wings bit the dust during drunken stagger by one of the guests. The artist, seeing his work splinter in front of him, roared his disgust via a sparkling string of oaths, smashed his beer glass to the floor with ill hidden venom and darted from the hall in a purple rage.

A night to remember for sure and only one of a few yet to come where it’ll be proved McCartney’s well of talent as a rock and roll performer, writer of songs and whatever else he does that might turn you on, is far from dry.

From Sounds Magazine, May 19, 1973
From Sounds Magazine, May 19, 1973
From Melody Maker – May 19, 1973
From New Musical Express – May 19, 1973

Last updated on August 14, 2023

New Theatre

This was the 1st and only concert played at New Theatre.

Setlist for the concert



Written by Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney

Album Available on Live In Oxford 1973



Seaside Woman

Written by Linda McCartney

Album Available on Live In Oxford 1973




C Moon

Written by Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney

Album Available on Live In Oxford 1973



Go Now

Written by Larry Banks, Milton Bennett

Album Available on Live In Oxford 1973


Say You Don't Mind

Written by Denny Laine

Album Available on Live In Oxford 1973





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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