If there was ever a pop star born with a more sizeable share of outrageous talent than most mere mortals, it is Paul McCartney. Not only is he among the most celebrated and successful song writers in the world, an innovative bass player who also plays the drums, piano and guitar equally well, a charismatic public figure and one of the best looking men on the planet (seriously, in his 20s and 30s, especially, McCartney could hold a close up for days) but he was a member of The fucking Beatles – the greatest band ever in the Universe of All Time. And the craziest thing about Paul McCartney’s many-decades long career is that he has made everything he does look easy. That, my friend, is the mark of a truly gifted and legendary artist.
Paul McCartney still tours, and if he happens to be playing in your city and you have $500 burning a hole in your pocket, you can buy a ticket to go see him. If that price seems a little out of your range, you might consider buying a ticket to see ROCKSHOW, a 1980 concert film by McCartney and his then-band Wings, which is coming to theaters Worldwide on May 15th, and here in the States starting May 16th. That would be a lot cheaper and you’ll probably get better seats! Filmed during the North American leg of the band’s 1976 Wings Over The World Tour, the two-hour plus length film features 30 songs from four concerts of the tour: New York, May 25 (four songs); Seattle, June 10 (five songs); Los Angeles, June 22 (15 songs); and Los Angeles, June 23 (six songs). This tour also spawned the triple live album, Wings Over America.
Although I am as crazy for the music of The Beatles today as I was at age five, when I first discovered the soundtrack of the film HELP! thanks to my older sister, Wings was never a band that yanked my chain all that much. I was probably listening to Alice Cooper and a lot of German Prog Rock at that time, so, I was surprised at the intense waves of deep nostalgia that washed over me as I sat rapt for two hours watching ROCKSHOW on my iMac so I could write this review. Little did I know then that, nearly forty years onward, Wings’ songs would sound like the Classical music of its time! The set list for ROCKSHOW is comprised of tracks from the albums Red Rose Speedway, Band on the Run, Venus and Mars and Wings at the Speed of Sound and some of McCartney’s early solo work, while being favorably augmented by many Beatles’ classics. What a great concert experience this film serves up!
Paul McCartney & Wings included McCartney’s wife and muse, keyboardist Linda McCartney (RIP), drummer Joe English, guitarists Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch (RIP) plus a four piece horn section. Demonstrating that wings was as egalitarian a band as any fronted by a former Beatle, Paul frequently hands over lead vocal duties to Laine and McCulloch, beginning early in the set with “Spirits of Ancient Egypt” and “Medicine Jar,” respectively. Laine also reprises his lead vocal performance of The Moody Blues’ early #1 hit, “Go Now” and shows himself to be a remarkably charismatic front man on the urgent and compelling “Time To Hide.” Although the cameras can tend to linger on McCartney’s ridiculously handsome visage for endless minutes at a time (not complaining), everyone in the group is represented, reinforcing the fact that Wings was a true “band of brothers,” so to speak and not just a group of hired musicians supporting McCartney as a solo act.
Left to Right: Jimmy McCulloch, Denny Laine, Linda and Paul
Paul can rock out with his bass like the great front man that he is, but some of my favorite moments in the film are when he’s behind the piano for songs like “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “The Long & Winding Road” and the jaunty “You Gave Me The Answer,” which McCartney dedicates to Fred Astaire. Not quite midway through the show, the band pull up chairs at the front of the stage for an extended acoustic set featuring “Picasso’s Last Words,” a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Richard Cory,” a stunning rendition of “Bluebird” and a fun, uber-countrified version of “I’ve Just Seen a Face” (from the US release of The Beatles’ Rubber Soul album). But it’s on McCartney’s solo acoustic performance of “Blackbird” where the dark sensibilities that John Lennon helped to infuse into McCartney’s songcraft can really be heard. Moments like these are extremely bitter sweet.
I liked that, even though this was a BIG ROCK SHOW, they didn’t need to rely on explosions or shit flying through the air to make a memorable impression. McCartney and his band let the music do the talking and it never fails to be less than completely magical. The size of the stage – as well as the size of the venue – reveals that this was a huge production, but the show is refreshingly easy on the Las Vegas-style lighting effects, save for a spot strobe used to great effect during the horn sections of “Live and Let Die,” and a smoke and laser effect that makes it look as if the band is performing in outer space during the final number, “Soily.”
ROCKSHOW is a do not miss film for any fan of The Beatles, Paul McCartney or 70s Rock. The film will be shown in over 700 cities worldwide, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cape Town, Sydney, Rome, Warsaw, Bucharest, Prague, Hamburg, San Paolo, Rio DeJaneiro, Buenos Aires, and many other cities across the U.S., Mexico, Asia, Europe and South America. These special theatrical presentations will include a bonus 12-minute interview with McCartney. Tickets for ROCKSHOW are available at participating theater box offices and online at Rock Show On Screen Dot Com, where you can also look for a screening in your area. Running time is 141 minutes. ROCKSHOW will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 11th, 2013.
1.-3. “Venus And Mars”/“RockShow”/ “Jet”
4. “Let Me Roll It”
5. “Spirits Of Ancient Egypt”
6. “Medicine Jar”
7. “Maybe I’m Amazed”
8. “Call Me Back Again”
9. “Lady Madonna”
10. “The Long And Winding Road”
11. “Live And Let Die”
12. “Picasso’s Last Words”
13. “Richard Cory”
15. “I’ve Just Seen A Face”
18. ”You Gave Me The Answer”
19. “Magneto And Titanium Man”
20. “Go Now”
21. “My Love”
22. “Listen To What The Man Said”
23. “Let ‘Em In”
24. “Time To Hide”
25. “Silly Love Songs”
26. “Beware My Love”
27. “Letting Go”
28. “Band on the Run”
29. “Hi, Hi, Hi”