Reviews

Paul McCartney & Wings Soar in 'Rockshow'

That Paul McCartney was having a fantastic 1976 is plain to see in the concert film Rockshow, featuring performances from the North American leg of his Wings Over the World tour, and recently released on DVD and Blu-ray.


Paul McCartney & Wings

Rockshow

Label: Eagle Rock
Release date: 2013-06-11
Amazon
iTunes

In 1976, Paul McCartney was on top of the world. His band, Wings, had just released their fourth consecutive number one album, Wings at the Speed of Sound, which also boasted one of the year's top-selling singles, "Silly Love Songs". Music critics had begun to lighten up on his wife and bandmate, Linda. Perhaps most gratifying of all, the majority of the millions of people who were coming to see him perform during his massive Wings Over the World tour were coming to see Paul McCartney & Wings -- not Paul McCartney, the former Beatle.

That McCartney was having a fantastic year is plain to see in the concert film Rockshow, featuring performances from the North American leg of his Wings Over the World tour, and recently released on DVD and Blu-ray. Rockshow features an indefatigable McCartney arguably at the peak of his performance ability, which lessens the blow of the film's technical flaws and oddities.

Most McCartney fans have been waiting a long time to see Rockshow. Many fans were not alive when Rockshow premiered in theaters in 1980. Furthermore, those few who were able to snag a copy of the 1982 laserdisc release were subject to grainy picture quality, and sub-par sound. This version also formed the basis for the numerous bootlegs floating about the internet in recent years.

The most recent release on DVD and blu-ray is, naturally, a marked improvement over the old laserdisc edition, with crystal clear picture quality, and a stellar 5.1 digital surround sound mix. My only complaint about the mix is that certain songs feature far less bottom end than others, which is especially frustrating given the brilliance of McCartney's bass playing in this performance.

To see McCartney perform in 1976 was to see him at his best. Since the Beatles had ceased touring a decade earlier, McCartney had only made sporadic live appearances, though you wouldn't know it by watching Rockshow: the songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is obviously well-rehearsed and in top-form, and accompanied by a more-than-capable supporting group composed of drummer Joe English, rhythm guitarist (and Moody Blues alumnus) Denny Laine, lead guitarist Jimmy McCullogh, keyboardist Linda McCartney, as well as a four-man brass and woodwinds section. Playing a wide selection of Wings and Beatles hits, it was McCartney's most recent efforts than burned brightest on this tour. "Silly Love Songs" bounces along with an infectious bass line and high-octane horns; "Call Me Back Again" features Paul singing at his rawest since "Oh! Darling;" while "Live and Let Die" nearly blows the roof off the stadium, with a frantic lightshow and spectacular pyrotechnics for added effect.

By comparison, Wings' performance of certain Beatle standards such as "Lady Madonna" and "The Long and Winding Road" are underwhelming. The inclusion of brass and woodwinds on "The Long and Winding Road" seems, in retrospect, a particularly odd choice for Paul McCartney; six years earlier, McCartney seethed at Phil Spector's overproduction of the Let it Be record, and was particularly offended by the over-the-top instrumentation on McCartney's baby from that set, "Long and Winding Road." Listening to his performance of the track in Rockshow makes me wish for the Beatles' more sensitive and minimalist performance from Let it Be... Naked.

There are a few other odd choices, and at times frustrating moments in Rockshow. The central characters from "Magneto and Titanium Man" (which, yes, is just as corny and fun as it sounds) are emblazoned on a massive and distracting projection behind the band as they perform. Certain songs fall flat (Why did Paul choose to cap off such a terrific performance with a song like "Soily?" Ever heard of it? Exactly).

The only extra feature on the DVD is a trifling short film featuring backstage footage from the tour. Perhaps most frustrating of all, in certain moments throughout Rockshow, the on-camera performance does not sync with the soundtrack. Some might argue that I am splitting hairs here, but I have always found it frustrating in concert films when the images we are seeing do not match exactly what we are hearing; it's interesting to note how musicians do what they do in real time, which exact chords are being used by each guitarist, or how the drummer's technique lends itself to certain fills, etc. Thankfully, this does not happen too often, but when it does it irritates the musician in me.

For the most part, however, Rockshow soars, and is essential viewing for any McCartney aficionado. I watched Paul perform in Vancouver last November, and was astounded at the 71-year-old's exuberance and stamina through a two and a half hour long set. Understandably, he performed with even greater ebullience as a man half that age in 1976, and we are lucky to have Rockshow as testament to the musician's enduring brilliance.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.

Music

Alison Chesley Toils in Human and Musical Connectivity on Helen Money's 'Atomic'

Chicago-based cellist, Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) creates an utterly riveting listen from beginning to end on Atomic.

Music

That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.

Books

Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.

Reviews

Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.

Music

Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.

Film

'Thor: Ragnarok' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.

Music

Alps 2 and Harry No Release Eclectic Single "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" (premiere)

Alps 2 and Harry NoSong's "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" is a dizzying mix of mangled 2-step rhythms and woozy tranquil electronics.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.