Interview for Record Mirror • Saturday, May 15, 1976

Five Wings & A Prayer in Texas

Interview of Linda McCartney
Published by:
Record Mirror
Timeline More from year 1976

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Interview

THEY’RE OFF and flying! The ‘Wings Over America’ tour – McCartney’s first concerts in the US for 10 years – took off this week in Texas. In the next two months more than 500,000 Americans will see the ex-Beatle they missed most.

But what most of them don’t realise is that they are going to see something more than just Paul McCartney and his band.

Benefits

Wings have now become an exciting and complete unit which has slowly and painstakingly learned the lessons and reaped the benefits of four slowly progressing years on the road. Though they start off as an unknown entity as far as live performances are concerned, the current US tour will change that. The sign outside the first concert in the Tarrant County Convention Centre in Fort Worth read: ‘Paul McCartney’. Next time it will read: ‘Wings’.

Perhaps as a result of trying to lay the ghost of “Paul’s band” the group and management have thrown everything into their American effort.

At rehearsals last week in Texas the musicians, including a vibrant horn section, were producing an adrenalin-powered sound which can’t fail to take America by storm.

Numbers which had seemed flawless in Europe began to grow even further in stature as Paul, Denny and Jimmy threw their ultimate effort into making the sound perfect. (Perhaps breaking a finger will become mandatory for aspiring guitar heroes.) The management has provided a brand new — and technically brilliant — sound and lighting system — the sound system is described by manager Brian Brolly as a “psycho sound system”.

The lights are so extensive that a walk-way has been built above the group’s head to let the road crew move about amongst the equipment.

On the first night in Fort Worth, the new laser lighting effect blew the crowd apart during ‘Live And Let Die’. It produces a flat beam which traps smoke which it then holds in a psychedelic blanket above the crowd’s head.

Convoy

The equipment is being moved in a 10-vehicle convoy which includes five 40ft trucks; three smaller trucks and two sleeping Greyhound buses for the road crew.

The group, naturally, will be winging up in a private charter jet.

But the girl hanging around the Will Rogers Memorial Centre in Fort Worth during rehearsals as least interested in the technical wonder taking place than in the emotional wonder she had just seen walking in through the stage door. “It’s just incredible. It’s too much,” she gushed. “A Beatle, a real Beatle.

She hadn’t got the Wings message, yet. For people of her years (mid-20s) Paul was always the Beatle they loved above the others.

But the obsessive adulation which awaits Paul is a problem for the identity of the band. It is difficult to share the hero worship when road crew, journalists and chauffeurs are equally asked if they are members of the band by fans.

Nervous

Linda, too, though she doesn’t have the recognition problem, knows she will have to go through the pressures she had to endure when the band first toured in Britain.

During a break in rehearsals, she talked about those pressures:

“It’s making me nervous now,” she said. “It would have been better if we had gone straight from Europe right into it without a break. But when Jimmy broke his finger then things got put back. We went off to Martinique for a holiday. It was lovely but it meant that when we got here we had to start building ourselves back up to facing it. Of course, it’s what we’ve all wanted to do since we first went on the road four years ago but it wasn’t till now we felt ready for America. Now, with Joe English and Jimmy, the group is really together and confident. “

Linda thinks it would take about three years for the group to relax and start winning. She said:

“One advantage is that the New York date comes at just the right part in the tour.”

Another consideration for the group is the size of the audiences they will face. Up to now, the band’s largest gig has been 10,000 in Les Halles, Paris.

Now they are playing 20,000 and 30,000 seaters. And in Seattle, they expect to play to 80,000 at an indoor concert — breaking the world record draw for a one-band concert.

“I suppose once the lights go down and you can’t see the first few rows it doesn’t matter if you are playing to 20,000 or a million,” said Linda.

The tour’s success is helped by the bulleting movement of ‘Silly Love Songs’ up the singles chart here. That number, along with ‘Time To Hide’ and ‘Beware My Love’ have been included in the new set.

Tickets were, of course, sold out within hours. But the impact of their stage performance is unknown to most Americans.

Despite first-night flaws, the Fort Worth gig was phenomenally successful. By the time the show hits New York it should be ready to blow Madison Square Gardens apart.

Success

Publicity of the tour has been deliberately kept quiet to allow its own momentum to decide its success – no Bruce Springsteen over-hype here. Within days of the tour starting, few Americans will be unaware that a major rock event is happening. America is very much in the mood for Wings. And they will be pulling out all the commercial and musical stops. This tour should at least convert Wings reputation in America from being a top class recording band to an exciting live act.



From Record Mirror – May 1, 1976

Last updated on August 3, 2022

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