Wings: just a road band
By Martin Hayman
Paul McCartney the bright boy and the sweet talker of the Beatles, has been playing an odd game of hide and seek with the public during the last year – or even, on his own admission, for the past five years. He would pop up like a jack in the box at selected university gigs, and disappear again as quickly as he came, leaving the press on the hop – just like your average road band, in fact.
And that’s how he’d like to see Wings now, as a new band on the road making its way – and playing its way too, within limits. “I don’t want to lose on the tour,” he told assembled reporters last weekend, “because I don’t’ like the idea of it. For me it’s a job – I like being in work. I can see exactly what it’s like to be redundant, but you can still have a lot of money and still want to work. I don’t want at this point in my life just not to have a job. I like the idea of working at something I like to work at. I like to get out and do it, for about five years I’ve had about enough of that lying about. I’m sure in time people will appreciate it’s just another road band. “
“If we’d gone back to the States and started to do the big stadiums, and get right back into it, I would have had to be convinced that we could really do it. But the main point,” he said with a relaxed conviction, “is that I don’t want to do it too quick. I don’t want to do it so that it’s all over again. I quite like the idea of doing it steadily, building it step by step.”
Even Paul does not know yet which way the band is headed, even less the other Wings, who he’s been trying to persuade (Henry particularly) to write new songs: “the kind of direction we’re taking is amazing to me, you probably don’t believe it but we’re getting into really daft things like ‘Carolina Moon.’ The kind of things you only sing when you’re really, really drunk. But they can really be heard rending.”
So there’s Paul, talking about his love for the country and western and for the great singing at home at a Liverpool Christmas party, and Linda saying how much she loves reggae, and Henry looking very contented and Denny Laine as wryly Brum as ever. How does it all go over on stage?
Well for a start, it hardly seemed like the opening night of a tour for a band. Their schedule is being taken very much at a gentlemanly pace in their brightly painted bus, a sort of psychedelic sea-side promenade open decker stepped straight out of a Cliff Richard “Summer holiday” set.
But the band don’t really rate as first timers either, do they? They could all use a little gentle holidaying thrown in with their work: drummer Denny Sewell, Denny Laine the man of constant sorrows with the Moodies and Airforce and Balls under his belt, Henry McCulloch who first pushed another star Joe Cocker with his guitar, and of course Linda, who had to write a song to prove that she was not just along for the ride in the McCartney band. The song did not just prove its point to the question, it is now in the show as “Sea Side Woman” and has one of those extra fashionable jump up beats which had her fella leaping up and down and knee bending like this was something from the “Twist and Shout” days.
And the set which Wings played in the sharply etched stonescape of Chateau Varron’s Amphitheatre on Sunday night includes a lot of new numbers written especially for Wings as a band, and comes to a rocking and rolling climax with the appropriately named “High Hi High” – maybe for release as a further single to show the people that McCartney is not, despite his first two singles, some kind of Piscean jokester.
Not that things ran all together smoothly. There was an almost total lack of publicity even on a local basis, and veteran Georgia Gomelsky sat and gravely declared that he had had incredulous people on the phone from Paris that very morning, demanding definite proof that, as in England earlier this year, McCartney had just taken off again with his Wings.
Tour manager John Morris jumping up again, looks inscrutably, puffs his cheroot and almost smiles. Yet the gig was packed.
We arrived as Wings neared the end of their first set in the dusk with “Blue moon of Kentucky” and after the aggravation with the volatile audience had been settled they played through a selection of new numbers with old favorites like “Wildlife” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and the fine joyous “Maybe I’m Amazed.” The new songs in several cases tell of McCartney’s Linda: “I am your Singer,” and “My Love.”
McCartney is the obvious linkman on bass, electric piano and guitar, even with the years of experience around him. Denny Laine and Henry McCulloch and, of course Linda, get their respective standouts on “Say you don’t mind” and as good as ever “Take it as you get it” featuring some Belfast blues blending and a reggae tune “Sea Side Woman” picked up in principal form the McCartney’s Jamaican holiday.
But it’s obvious now that McCartney has at last got rid of the specter and the bitterness of the Beatles and is into an altogether new thing.