A Really Big Show

A “Turntable Talk” contribution

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 SimonGrugahalle, Essen, February 7, 1987 (Graceland Tour); Bruce Springsteen and the E Street BandWaldstadion, 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!

Paul McCartney and his backing band (from left): Paul “Wix” Wickens, Chris Whitten, Linda McCartney, Paul McCartney, Robbie McIntosh and Hamish Stuart

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!

Paul McCartney with Robbie McIntosh

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 BeHey Jude and Yesterday. Hey, I can get emotional now just recalling this!

From the 1989/90 World Tour program

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:

Regular Set
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)

Encore:
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

They Say It’s Your Birthday

At 80 years, Paul McCartney remains an artist full of energy who still gets a kick on stage

Two days ago, I saw Paul McCartney at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey where he wrapped up his North American Got Back Tour. It’s hard to believe today is Sir Paul’s 80th birthday. To celebrate the occasion, I’m republishing a post I did for Paul’s birthday last year. It has been slightly edited and the Spotify playlist at the end is an addition. The next installment of Best of What’s New, my weekly look at newly-released music, will run on Monday.

You say it’s your birthday

...Yes we’re going to a party party
Yes we’re going to a party party
Yes we’re going to a party party

Things We Said Today (1964)

A song from The Beatles era I’ve always loved, which appeared on the U.K. version of the A Hard Day’s Night album released in July 1964 but wasn’t part of the movie soundtrack. According to The Beatles Bible, McCartney wrote this tune on a yacht in the Virgin Islands in May 1964, where he vacationed with his girlfriend Jane Asher, as well as Ringo Starr and his future first wife Maureen Cox.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

The title track and a Macca tune from my favorite Beatles album on most days, which was released in May 1967. The idea of the song and the entire album of an alter-ego band that would perform before an audience came to McCartney in November 1966 on a flight from Nairobi back to England.

Maybe I’m Amazed (1970)

The highlight of McCartney’s debut solo album McCartney from April 1970. Written in 1969, the tune is about his first wife Linda McCartney (née Eastman). Linda who passed away from breast cancer in 1998 undoubtedly had an enormous impact on Paul. Instead of picking the studio track, I’m cheating a bit here and feature what I feel is a superior version that appeared on the great Wings Over America live album from December 1976.

Band on the Run (1973)

The title track from what I think is the Mount Rushmore of Macca’s solo period, released in December 1973. The tune was McCartney’s response to drug laws he believed unfairly criminalized him and his friends. Noting the latter included the Eagles and The Byrds, Songfacts quotes Macca as follows: “We’re not criminals… We just would rather do this than hit the booze – which had been a traditional way to do it. We felt that this was a better move.”

Letting Go (1975)

A nice rocker from Venus and Mars, McCartney’s fourth studio album with Wings, which came out in May 1975. Letting Go is another tune about Linda McCartney, a reflection on Paul’s relationship with her and that she deserved more freedom to pursue her own interests after she had given up her photography career. Linda received a co-credit for the song.

Here Today (1982)

A moving tribute to John Lennon Macca wrote wrote in the wake of Lennon’s senseless murder in December 1980. It appeared on McCartney’s third solo studio album Tug of War from April 1982, another gem from his solo catalog I previously covered here. This song can still make me well up!

Fine Line (2005)

Time to continue the party by jumping to the current century. Fine Line is the opener to Macca’s 13th solo album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard from October 2005. It’s a great piano-driven pop song that also showcases the multi-instrumental talents of Sir Paul. In addition to piano and vocals, he provided guitar, bass and drums – pretty much the track’s entire instrumentation, except for the strings that were played by London-based session players Millennia Ensemble.

I Don’t Know (2018)

A beautiful piano ballad from Egypt Station, McCartney’s 17th solo studio effort from September 2018 – a late career gem in his solo catalog, in my opinion! You can read more about it here. Yes, Paul’s voice is clearly showing some wear and tear, but I think it works very well for this and the other tracks on the album.

Lavatory Lil (2020)

A nice rocker from McCartney III, which is yet another intriguing late-career release in my book. I would also say it’s the charm of Macca’s three DIY home-made albums, as I previously wrote here. Check out the cool descending bass line of Lavatory Lil.

Birthday (1968)

A birthday celebration calls for a birthday song, so I’d like to wrap up this post with exactly that. Conveniently, Sir Paul also wrote the perfect tune for the occasion. It first appeared on The Beatles’ White Album from November 1968 as the opener to side three (speaking in vinyl terms here!). Instead of picking the original studio track, let’s up the fun with a live version captured during a performance at New York’s Grand Central Station in September 2018 to celebrate the release of the above-noted Egypt Station album. It’s just great to see how much fun Macca continues to have when performing in front of an audience.

I would like you to dance, birthday

Rock on, Paul, and here’s to good health and many more years to come!

Following is a Spotify playlist with the above and some other tunes:

Sources: Wikipedia; The Beatles Bible; Songfacts; YouTube

Clips and Pix: The Faces/Maybe I’m Amazed

Holy cow, until I just came across a YouTube clip, I had not known The Faces covered Maybe I’m Amazed. I really dig their version. Musically, it’s similar to the original, but what stands out to me is Rod Stewart’s voice, which sounds perfect for this tune.

Maybe I’m Amazed was written by Paul McCartney and first appeared on his debut solo album McCartney from April 1970. I know I’ve said this before, the live version that appeared in December 1967 on Wings Over America is much better.

The Faces included their cover, which is also a live recording, on their second studio album Long Player that was released in February. The performance had been captured at Fillmore East in November 1970.

BTW, the guy who starts on lead vocals before Stewart takes over is Ronnie Lane, the band’s bassist. He later comes back to sing harmony. In addition to him and Stewart, The Faces included Ronnie Wood (guitar, vocals), Ian McLagan (keyboards) and Kenny Jones (drums). Man, what a fantastic band – I guess I have to listen to some more!

Sources: Wikipedia; YouTube