Interview for New Musical Express • Saturday, August 26, 1972

Wings Gain Strength

Press interview • Interview of Paul McCartney

Related concert

Groningen • Evenementenhal Martinihal • Netherlands

Aug 19, 1972 • Netherlands • Groningen • Evenementenhal Martinihal

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McCartney’s men – and woman – slaying ’em in Europe

“ROTTERDAM WAS BETTER, we had some of the audience dancing on the stage,” beamed Paul McCartney, sitting back in a chair in the Stones Mobile parked outside the Hall in Gronigen, Holland.

Hand clasped firmly in Linda’s, he sat with the rest of Wings and assorted friends, listening to the playback of the first of the band’s recorded gigs, for possible inclusion on the next album. With three more shows to go and 25 odd behind them, the sound coming from the speakers was nothing short of amazing. The music was full of confidence and enthusiasm.

Much better;” enthused Paul. “We’re recording more of the gigs, and filming them too. I have some ideas for the film, and maybe we’ll use it for TV – to follow ‘Budgie’!” “Yea” chipped in Linda, “you should have been at Rotterdam – and Stockholm. We had 16,000 people there, in the middle of a fun-fair, and they were everywhere, hanging off the towers and all over the ferris wheel.

What did you like best tonight?” Paul asked me.

“Wildlife’ and ‘Hi, Hi, Hi’.”

“I liked those too. Hey, let’s hear the last part from ‘Maybe I’m Amazed.”’

The engineer couldn’t find the appropriate tape from among all the bodies. He played assorted tapes of various parts of the show. Paul didn’t mind. He just sat and listened intently. commenting briefly now and again about a particularly good bit. It was clear that the band as a musical unit is ready and competent to tackle a lot more than they are doing now.

Linda in particular commented on how much better she feels about her playing now.

“It’s a nice feeling, now. All sort of coming together. I got really like, carried away on the music tonight. Although all the gigs have been good for a long time now. Except maybe Copenhagen, which was a bit flat.”

But this story really starts in Rotterdam. Tracking down the flighty Wings was no easy task. Many of the gigs had been changed and on my arrival at the appointed time, I ran into John Morris. “We were expecting you yesterday!” Groans all round. “But come to the next one“, he offered. “It’s in Groningen only a hundred miles from here, come on the bus.

So the next morning we all set off, minus the group who were travelling under their own steam. Four hours later we arrived.

The Martinihall in Groningen turned out to be a square box of steel and concrete, with a king-sized echo problem. Also, the TV crew had arrived, and needed a lot of help from the already overworked road crew. In the ensuing eight hours, five assorted gantries, umpteen tons of amps, lights, curtains. and a couple of parachutes to drape on either side (Wings?) were put together and made to work.

At 8.30 the audience began to assemble, looking around in disbelief at the impressive obstacles scattered around their domain. They sat on the floor and waited, marooning each obstacle in turn in an impenetrable mass. Someone was playing records over the PA.

Then, “Ladies and Gentlemen, from England – WINGS

All strained forward to get their first view of Paul as the curtains parted. The band were playing “Eat at Home”. From that, straight into “Smile Away”, without a pause. Then came the response and the smile which showed appreciation. “Bip Bop” and “Mumbo” followed keeping the tempo up.

Then the first inconsistency. “1882” which was a little shaky and weak. Denny Laine gets a chance next and showed great improvement in his stage presentation, 

Do you all speak English?” demands Paul of the audience. “Yes,” came a unison reply. “This is the song the BBC banned in England. They said it was too political. It wasn’t banned there, was it? Give Ireland back to the Irish!.” A big cheer.

Paul sang the song with feeling. The innocuous “Blue Moon of Kentucky” was next, followed by the excellent “Mess I’m In” before the interval. All the work on the road was definitely showing. The second set followed a similar carefully planned order, including the plaintive “I Am Your Singer”. “Seaside Woman” from Linda. “Henry’s Blues” about toothache (he was suffering at the time) and shakey “Say You Don’t Mind” from Danny Laine.

Then McCartney returned to the limelight with “Wildlife” which has gained so much from his singing it live that the studio version on the album is embarrassing by comparison. “Mary Had A Little Lamb” is an insipid song with a catchy bass line but the whole audience sang along heartily, which is I suppose, as it should be.

The great “Maybe I’m Amazed” got a whoop and a squeal and is still one of the best things McCartney has written. I’ll say the same about the show closer, “High Hi High” – it’d make a great single

The audience were on their feet screaming for more. 

“Long Tall Sally” got them hopping along and screaming for yet more. But that was the lot, and I trooped over to the Mobile to hear the playback.

So Wings are gaining strength. They have, aside from a few exceptions, outgrown their material, and I hope Paul gets down to writing more suitable songs which will earn them the respect they richly deserve.

The piano and keyboard department is still the weakest link, improved though Linda is. and the harmony singing needs attention.

During the playback, Paul listened intently to the singing on “1882”.

Paul the perfectionist was not satisfied.

Last updated on August 14, 2023


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