Fellow music blogger Dave from A Sound Day has a great recurring feature, Turntable Talk, for which he invites other bloggers to contribute their thoughts about a given topic. Following is my recent contribution to the latest installment, which he called A Really Big Show. In Dave’s words: We’ve asked our guests if they had a time machine, and could go back and see one concert what would it be? It could be a show from before they were born, one they missed or one they actually attended and would like to relive. Big festival, small club show, you name it.
This post originally appeared on February 12. It has been slightly edited and reformatted. I also embedded some photos and clips and added a Spotify album link.
Thanks, Dave, for having me back on Turntable Talk with another interesting topic and for continuing to host the fun series.
A really big show. This took me a little while to figure out. My thought process started with what you could call the obvious, i.e., picking a famous music event or concert like Woodstock (August 1969), Atlanta International Pop Festival (July 1969 and July 1970), The Beatles at Shea Stadium (August 1965) or The Concert for Bangladesh (August 1971). Next, I reflected on shows captured on some of my favorite live albums, such as The Allman Brothers’ At Fillmore East (March 1971), The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (August 1964 and August 1965) or The Rolling Stones’ Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! (November 1969).
While all the above became part of music history and had very intriguing aspects, the reality is I’ve only read about these concerts. And, yep, I’ve seen great documentaries about Woodstock, The Beatles at Shea Stadium and The Concert for Bangladesh. When it comes to Woodstock in particular, I highly doubt I would have enjoyed the chaotic sanitary and other conditions on the ground. Amid all the hysterically screaming fans, I also wonder how much of the music I would have been able to hear at the above Beatles shows. But, most importantly, I came to the conclusion that my “really big show” had to be a concert I actually visited – coz how else could you really know!
Over the past 40 years, I’ve been fortunate to have seen many great concerts. While I remember most of the bands and artists, I don’t want to pretend I recall all the details. Limiting myself to concerts I can reasonably well remember significantly narrowed the choices. Essentially, it came down to three concerts I experienced back in Germany during the ‘80s: Paul Simon, Grugahalle, Essen, February 7, 1987 (Graceland Tour); Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Waldstadion, Frankfurt, July 12, 1988 (Tunnel of Love Express Tour); and Paul McCartney, October 16 or 17, 1989, Westfalenhalle, Dortmund (The Paul McCartney World Tour 1989-1990).
If you’ve read my blog or know my music taste otherwise, undoubtedly, you already know where this is going to. If it’s not a concert by The Beatles, my all-time favorite band, the next best would be a show by an ex-Beatle. So, yes, Sir Paul is my pick!
Needless to point out that back in 1989, I was thrilled to get to see one of my biggest music heroes! Thinking about it while I’m writing this post makes me excited and want to jump into a time machine!
A few months prior to the gig, I had bought Macca’s then-new album Flowers in the Dirt and dug it right way, especially the Beatle-esque lead single My Brave Face. This sounded so much better than any track on predecessor Press to Play!
At the time, I also already owned Wings Over America on vinyl, a live album capturing the American leg of the 1975-1976 Wings Over the World Tour. While Paul had a different backing band for his 1989-1990 world tour, the album still gave me an idea how he might sound live in 1989. Remember, there was no YouTube back then, so I couldn’t search for any clips of live footage – hard to imagine from today’s perspective!
So what do I remember from the actual show? To begin with, I was amazed without any maybe how fantastic Paul (lead vocals, electric and acoustic guitar, bass, keyboards) sounded. So did his backing band: Linda McCartney (backing vocals, keyboards, percussion), Hamish Stuart (backing vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bass), Robbie McIntosh (backing vocals, electric guitar), Paul “Wix” Wickens (backing vocals, keyboards) and Chris Whitten (drums, percussion). To be clear, I’m relying on Wikipedia here! In addition to Macca, I only specifically remember Linda, Robbie and Hamish who btw was an original member of Average White Band.
I also recall that looking around the concert hall, I thought much of the audience was “older”, i.e., about the same age as Paul was at the time, which would actually mean 47! I was 23 years then, so, yes, late ‘40s definitely felt “older.”😊 Something else I still can see before my eyes were moments when things got emotional and women would start to well up. That was when Paul sang tunes like Let It Be, Hey Jude and Yesterday. Hey, I can get emotional now just recalling this!
Speaking of music, the show spanned a nice range of songs, including tunes from Flowers in the Dirt and other McCartney solo albums, Wings and plenty, plenty of Beatles songs – YES! I had been full of anticipation regarding the latter, and Paul and the band didn’t disappoint – man, did they sound great!
Bless Setlist.fm where I found the entire song line-up. The only thing I honestly couldn’t reconstruct is which of the two concerts they played in Dortmund I saw, Monday, October 16 or Tuesday, October 17, 1989.
Here’s the setlist for October 17, which is identical to the October 16 date:
• Figure of Eight
• Jet (Wings)
• Rough Ride
• Got to Get You Into My Life (Beatles)
• Band on the Run (Wings)
• Ebony and Ivory
• We Got Married
• Maybe I’m Amazed
• The Long and Winding Road (Beatles)
• The Fool on the Hill (Beatles)
• Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Beatles)
• Good Day Sunshine (Beatles)
• Can’t Buy Me Love (Beatles)
• Put It There (with “Hello, Goodbye” outro snippet)
• Things We Said Today (Beatles)
• Eleanor Rigby (Beatles)
• This One
• My Brave Face
• Back in the U.S.S.R. (Beatles)
• I Saw Her Standing There (Beatles)
• Twenty Flight Rock (Eddie Cochran cover)
• Coming Up
• Let It Be (Beatles)
• Ain’t That a Shame (Fats Domino cover)
• Live and Let Die (Wings)
• Hey Jude (Beatles)
• Yesterday (Beatles)
• Get Back (Beatles)
• Golden Slumbers (Beatles)
• Carry That Weight (Beatles)
• The End (Beatles)
Isn’t this one hell of a song line-up? The good news is footage from Paul’s 1989-1990 world tour was captured on Tripping the Live Fantastic, a nice live album released in November 1990. According to Wikipedia, it was his first official solo live album and first release of concert material since the above-mentioned Wings Over America.
I’ve since seen Paul two more times in the U.S.: July 2016 (Hersheypark Stadium, Hershey, Pa.) and June 2022 (MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.). In case you’re curious, I previously posted about these gigs here and here. While both concerts were great, it’s that first show back in 1989, which will always have a special place in my heart.
– End –
My contributed post ended here. Following are some clips of tunes from the setlist of “my” show, using clips of corresponding tracks from Tripping the Live Fantastic. I’m also including a Spotify link to the entire album.
Band on the Run (Wings)
Maybe I’m Amazed
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Beatles)
Things We Said Today (Beatles)
My Brave Face
I Saw Her Standing There (Beatles)
Spotify link to Tripping the Live Fantastic:
Sources: Wikipedia; Setlist.fm; YouTube; Spotify