- Published by:
- Disc And Music Echo
- Interview by:
- Michael Wale
- Timeline More from year 1972
More from year 1972
Jul 09, 1972 • France • Ollioules • Centre culturel Chateauvallon
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We wanted to end in France and start in Finland. I think the British American audiences are a bit more critical, unlike tonight’s audience, who are just coming out for a good evening. I just want to be ready, that’s all.Paul McCartney
For the first time since the Beatles broke up, Paul McCartney faced a ticket-boxing audience here tonight. Hidden among the hills just outside Toulon, in the South of France, McCartney’s Band “Wings” started a 26-concert tour of nine Continental countries. Two thousand people turned up to sit in an open-air Greek-style amphitheatre and watch the band perform a 95-minute.
Those are the cold facts, but they can’t translate the incredible fever of a night which bore about it much of that tingling atmosphere of Dylan’s appearance at Isle of Wight in 1969. This, then, whatever you think of the music Of Wings, was a pop occasion. And afterwards, McCartney, belying his hard-to-meet reputation, sat down in the open air, with an arm around his wife, Linda, ordered a scotch and coke and talked about why his public comeback had started in such a remote place.
“We wanted to end in France and start in Finland. I think the British American audiences are a bit more critical, unlike tonight’s audience, who are just coming out for a good evening. I just want to be ready, that’s all”.
There was no hiding how happy McCartney was to be back on the road. He has hired a London double-decker bus, with an open roof, to take his band through the Continent. No longer worried about the adoration that still surrounds 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 weather and the countryside.”
He says the band will definitely do a proper tour of England late this, or early next year.
“Yes. we also plan to appear in America.”
Wings, who have Mary Had Little Lamb in the top 20, may well record their next single “live” on the road, says McCartney. so what tune will it be? My betting, on talking with McCartney, is the song he has written to close the show at present, a real old rocker, Hi, Hi, Hi. There is also half a new Wings album recorded.
McCartney leaves little doubt that he is fully back in a business which at times recently has looked rather caustically at him.
“I got a lot of grand schemes. I’m fascinated by Rupert. I’d like to make a movie involving him like a Walt Disney film. They used to make you cry.”
Inevitably the conversation turned to the Beatles. Paul admitted he had been asked to take part in the Bangla Desh concert at Madison Square Garden, New York, and refused.
“l felt they were just trying to get the Beatles together again. But all that is over.”
He said he had talked with the other Beatles but had not met them recently. As for any row that has been reported in the past. he says:
“It can’t be wrong to ask for my rights. That’s the crux of the situation. It’s just a little power game. All the others want to break it up but they are being advised not to break it up.”
The setting for the concert was beautiful. The open-air amphitheatre perched among pine trees was packed. To one side of the stage lay the remains of an old castle, and it was in there that the dressing rooms were. When the group walked up the grassy path onto the stage, there was a gigantic roar from the crowd. The group all wore the same all-black suits with sparkling lapels and matador designs on the sides of their trousers.
Paul’s hair was fairly short and Linda sat at the keyboards, golden hair catching the colours of the ever-changing stage lights. On the stage was a giant Persian carpet and stretching up into the night behind them was a huge cinema screen. Colour films of Scotland, the moon landing, wheeling gulls and deep-diving men were continually played onto the screen.
I’ll admit I only caught the last number of the 45-minute first set, Blue Moon Of Kentucky, because of travel problems which included a 90-minute top speed taxi dash around hairpin bends. The second half lasted an hour and the group were much more satisfied. After all, this was a first night; sound, lights, even musicians were on trial and at times it showed. But that, as McCartney said, was why they were starting here.
The most pressure, of course, was upon Linda. She has 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.”
However, as lovely and intelligent as Linda is, I do not think at present she is ready to give the band that bit of extra strength it needs.
Although all the time you must realise this was a first outing of a tour and bands knit together on the road. As for McCartney himself. he is as good as ever. I don’t like the group’s singles hit which is the right time to say it – when they are winning. But Paul squashed rumours that he had purposely recorded a simple tune for the BBC to play after they had banned Give Ireland Back To The Irish.
“I’ve a daughter named Mary and as she always pricked her ears up at this tune I thought I’d record a song with her name in it.”
Paul’ spoke to his audience in what might be described as Liverpudlian French, hastily swotted up backstage. “Le prochain chanson,” he kept saying. which sounded like “Prussian Song…“
“I am your singer,” he said in clear English, announcing a number from his “Wildlife” album. Denny Laine followed it with his own old Moody Blues composition Say You Don’t Mind, before Henry McCullough led into a blues jam.
Paul played several newly written songs including one of those pleasantly soft McCartney-styled numbers, My Love, which he sang sitting at the piano looking across at Linda who was centre stage with a tambourine. But his best work of the night was in Maybe I’m Amazed, which was on his first solo album.
I think the main lesson to learn from this unique evening is that McCartney is happy again, and willing—to show it; in public!