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Aug 26, 1972 • From New Musical Express
Dec 16, 1972 • From New Musical Express
May 19, 1973 • From New Musical Express
Jun 09, 1973 • From New Musical Express
Jul 28, 1973 • From New Musical Express
Oct 27, 1973 • From New Musical Express
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TOULON, SOUTH OF FRANCE, SUNDAY: This opening date for Paul McCartney’s first tour since the Beatle days of ’66 hardly came over as an all-important, high energy event. But then everybody, it seemed, especially McCartney, wanted to keep the open-air concert at the Chateau Vallon at low-key. He wanted a relatively quiet start. And, in a way, the music of Wings somewhat suited the mood — since the two-hour concert amounted to little more than two hours of fair-to-goodish pop. It rarely taxed the senses, the emotions or the intellect. Certainty McCartney could hardly have chosen a more obscure spot to start. Even local taxi-drivers had difficulty in finding the Chateau, which could only be reached after a mysterious drive through the suburbs of Toulon; a half-built housing estate; and up a two-mile track through pinewoods. Once reached, though, it proved to be a fine setting: a small amphitheatre set high up on a hill, miniature Coliseum with a stage surrounded by high stone steps. Since local advertising was virtually nil, the thousand or so beach freaks, interested locals and occasional middle-aged sophisticates were gathered there almost by word of mouth.
Unfortunately, too, the party flown out from England for the gig was still struggling through the woods as the first half of the concert came to an end. McCartney later admitted that the show hadn’t been that good anyway, and, from what could be heard wafting down through the trees, one was inclined to agree. Certainly numbers like sounded more like something from a local church hall group than a band led by a former Beatle. And one felt that maybe all one’s worst fears about McCartney’s current musical policy were about to be realised. Still the start of the second half saw the band beginning to rock a little with McCartney, still looking much the same as ever, stomping around the stage with the other two front-men Henry McCullough and Denny Laine.
Things slowed down a little when McCartey brought Denny Laine to the fore for the excellent “Say You Don’t Mind”, then Henry McCullough for a slow blues, and finally Linda for her own purely reggae number “Seaside Woman”.
To me Linda McCartney is still the weakest link in the group, with most of her contributions fairly ineffectual. And certainly her talents weren’t appreciated by everyone. When McCartney said: “One of these microphones isn’t working,” a voice called back out of the audience: “Give it to yer missus, then”.
Otherwise the set was made up of familiar material like “I Am Your Singer”, “Wild Life”, ‘Maybe I’m Amazed” and “Mary Had A LittJe Lamb”, plus newer songs like “My Love” (a little re¬miniscent of “Michelle”), and “High, High, High”, a great super-charged chunk of rock.
Overall the set was pleasant enough for a hot, hazy summer’s evening, and yet not totally convincing. Somehow McCartney still seems to be limiting his ambitions and potential. And surely, it’s not to unfair to expect Wings to be more than just an average pop band?
After the concert a small party was thrown in the backstage enclosure; all very civilised, with drinks laid out on trestle-tables and lit by discreet floodlights in the trees. With Linda constantly by his side McCartney seemed in cheerful spirits and full of confidence, although he had little time to relax. As soon as he appeared out of the dressing room door he was surrounded by photographers, autograph hunters and reporters.
Under the circumstances it was difficult to talk in any depth, but he still covered a wide range of subjects, taking in Wings, touring, recording, the concert for Bangla Desh… and the Beatles.
Q: Why are you touring the Continent before Britain?
A: I think maybe British and American audiences are a bit more critical than maybe tonight’s audience, who were just coming out for a good evening. OK, I’m sure British and American people can do the same thing, but it’s a bit of a different scene over there. So I want to make sure I can play a super-critical audience, if it turns out that way. Basically this tour is just to get back to laying in front of people again. I used to sit around thinking about music as art, and I enjoyed that for a while. Then I began to think, “you lose its basic feel unless you play to a live audience.” The main thing is, I don’t want to do it too quick. I don’t want to do it like you’re right at the top, and then it’s all over again. I quite like the idea of building steadily, achieving things step by step. The first step was the university tour. This current tour is the second step.
Q: You don’t feel you’re letting people in Britain down by playing on the Continent first?
A: I’ll grant you we haven’t done an actual tour of Britain yet, but it doesn’t matter. After all, this group is very new, if you think about it. If you think about the Beatles when they first started we played Hamburg for a long time before we dared show our face anywhere else. And working eight hours a day over there was a great way to break the band in.
Q: So when will you be playing in England?
Maybe next year. There’s not really much of this year left.
Q: How are numbers being written for the band at present?
I write the numbers on my own, or with Linda. Linda has in fact written one of her own, which was partly to prove a point to people who said she couldn’t write. It’s a kind of reggae number.
Linda: Yeah I love reggae. It’s my favourite music. We went over to Jamaica recently, and the music over there is so great. All the kids down there are so loose, and they’re playing it on every corner.
Are you both making a new album?
We’ve got one that’s half-way done, and I think it’s going to be a good one. Also I think we’ll probably record a couple of these concerts and we might get a record off one of the shows. It’d be nice to have a live single, for instance. And if it turns out really GREAT, it’ll be a live album. If it turns out not so great, I suppose we’ll keep the recordings. As home-movies stuff to remember the tour by.
Since the end of the Beatles it’s been suggested you’ve lost a certain amount of musical direction.
Maybe, maybe not. I don’t think so. The real truth is that when you finish with one band, and you start with another, it all takes time. Really the musical direction is amazing, because we’re getting of on all kinds of things — daft things even like “Carolina Moon”, songs that maybe you only sing when you’re very drunk. Like, for me I love old songs. I don’t dislike things that have gone — rather it’s the opposite. And when it comes down to it I think everybody thinks the same.
Would you ever do an old Beatles number?
The Beatles thing at the moment is a bit close, for me to do one. But we were on holiday recently, and we suddenly rediscovered “Yesterday.” And I haven’t played that for years.
What Beatles project gives you the fondest memories?
It’s difficult. I don’t think you can really go into all that stuff. I enjoyed it all, and it was great while it lasted, but for me I don’t like the idea of once having won the World Cup to just sit around living on your laurels. I prefer the idea of being in a band and working. We’ve all got to move on, you know.
How would you reply to criticism of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” ?
Yeah, well I’ve heard people say it’s a sell-out after “Give Ireland Back To The Irish,” but it just happened that one of my daughters is called Mary and as I happened to be singing it, and her name was in it, she perked up her ears. In the end she sang on the record, but to me they’re all just songs. That’s all.
But then you were also criticised for recording a political song — “Give Ireland Back To The Irish.”
The thing is. I’m a person as well as an entertainer, and over that particular thing I happen to feel strongly. I didn’t offer any particular solution. I’m just registering an opinion, if you want to know. Really it was directed at Heath, more than anybody. You see, I’m British and love Britain. Since I was a kid onwards I always thought this was a solid, truthful, good nation. I didn’t realise we were knocking off every bloody country on earth. Once you do realise it, you can either keep dumb or say something. I chose to say something.
It was rumoured that you recorded “Mary Had A Little Lamb” as a kickback to the BBC for banning “Give Ireland Back ATo The Irish.”
No, that wasn’t true. The thing is, a lot of things can get read into songs that were never ever true.
Do you feel people expect too much from you now, when you go on stage with Wings?
Maybe. I don’t mind. It doesn’t bother me, but I can see how that could get to you. Personally I’m just some fellow who wants to work.
Does Wings have to be an economically viable band on the road?
Yes it does. We don’t want to make massive profits, but we don’t want to lose. As I said really it’s just a job. I like being in work.
You know, I can see what it’s like to be redundant. After around five years of not doing it, I know exactly what it feel, like for the UCS men or whatever. I can appreciate that.
But it might be said you can’t appreciate it because you’ve got plenty of cash in the bank.
I don t see what that has to do with it. You can have a lot of money, but you still want to work. I just don’t like not having a job.
What do you feel is the best Wings number so far?
I don’t know yet. Maybe “Maybe I’m Amazed”, since it went down very well. Also we’ve got a new one, “High, High, High”, which is a nice one we wrote on holiday in about five minutes. We’re thinking about it for a single.
This current tour seems a fairly hectic schedule.
Well, it’s not really. We’re travelling on this open bus, and as that travels at thirty miles an hour, it’s hardly hectic. And we’ve got plenty of days off in-between. Really, we want to treat the whole thing like a holiday. We’re just going to see what all these places look like from the top of a bus. We thought of the bus when we were on holiday trying to get healthy for the tour. Everybody tells you touring is really going to wear you down, and as we thought we were going to be in Europe, in summer, in places like the South of France, it’s silly to sit in a little box all day gasping for air. So we got a London bus, took the roof off, made it open-deck, painted it, fitted in stereo, and made it really comfortable. Also, its’s healthy, man.
Have you seen any of your former colleagues recently?
We meet occasionally. I don’t see them all that often, but I don’t really see why I should. After all, we had a bit of trouble and the trouble we had is still on. It can’t be wrong to ask for my rights: that’s the crux of the situation. Basically they won’t let me out of the contract. In fact it’s not really them, but Allen Klein who’s persuading them not to let me out. It’s a weird scene, but it’ll be all right in the end.
Linda: Yeah, he’ll get his, though. He’ll get his in the end.
Paul: I’ve got a new band now. I’m more interested in that.
What about on a musical level. Do you listen to their records?
Not a lot.
What did you think of John’s last album?
It’s good. If that’s what he wants to do, then fine.
But you don’t share his social/political beliefs?
Actually I do. I don’t think there’s much wrong with a lot of what he says. Often he’s quite right. And it’s certainly not ineffective.
Linda: We haven’t even started to say what we really think yet. I think the trouble with John Lennon is that he preaches one thing, but he doesn’t go and do it. That’s very easy.
Q: He can’t be aware, because he won’t let us out of the contract. He’s got so much in his mind, it’s not bothering him. In fact we saw him in New York recently and then it was all, yeah-yeah, all open hearts, and Yoko saying to hell with it, let’s break it up. But nothing’s happened. Nothing. I don’t blame him or the others particularly. They’re only puppets for Klein. They’re nice people, but they’re being manipulated.
Q: It was rumoured, Paul, that you were asked to take part in the Bangla Desh concert.
Yeah, but I knew for certain that if I’d taken part it would have been played up as “the Beatles back together again.” It may have been only for one night, but the whole thing would have been perpetuated. When the truth is that it’s definitely ended. Like the man at the record company said: “Would you all play together again just once a year?” — like a kind of memorial tribute. Now I’m not going to get into anything like that. I’m not dead, you know. You can get into that kind of thing when I’m dead, if you like. But it’s not much good to me now.
Last updated on July 6, 2023