- United Kingdom
- New Theatre
May 12, 1973
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“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
Last updated on August 1, 2022
This was the 1st and only concert played at New Theatre.
Setlist for the concert
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.