Classic Rock Corner

Rockshow: Paul McCartney's First Marathon, But Not His Last

Rockshow Paul McCartney and Wings Eagle Vision, 139 mins., $29.98 DVD/$34.98 Blu-ray

According to rollingstone.com, the act that owned last weekend's Bonnaroo Festival was not some hirsute jam band, plaintive female singer-songwriter, or preppy indie-rockers, but a guy that much of the world has loved all of his career and even when he turned 64...seven years ago on June 18.

Yes, it was Paul McCartney's Herculean two-and-a-half-hour set of nearly 40 songs, made up mostly of Beatles material, that electrified festivalgoer, according to the review. But this was hardly Macca's first shot at a lengthy concert, as this DVD proves.

Shot over four night in three cities on the 1975/76 "Wings Over the World" tour -- which also spawned the recently reissued triple-LP Wings Over America set -- Rockshow did not see the light of day until 1980, and then only in movie theatres. Except for a short Betamax release in 1981, this is the first time it's been available since then.

Rockshow finds Wings (McCartney and wife Linda, Denny Laine, Jimmy McCollough and Joe English) at the height of their powers as a unit. The 30 songs here run the gamut from the band's hits ("Maybe I'm Amazed," "Band on the Run," "Let 'Em In," "Silly Love Songs") to deep cuts ("Picasso's Last Words," a rocking "Beware My Love," "Soily") and for the first time extensively since the breakup, Beatles material such as "Lady Madonna," "Yesterday," "I've Just Seen a Face."

But McCartney is a also generous bandleader, giving over lead-vocal spots occasionally to Laine, who does three including his hit with the Moody Blues, "Go Now," and finds a buoyant Paul and Linda on backing vocals. McCollough gets a turn on the anti-drug "Medicine Jar," an ironic choice, since he would die of a heroin overdose at age 26. A four-man horn section adds panache to certain tunes.

And while the Paul McCartney of 2013 is a bit of a rote showman, the 1976 version seems to have a lot of genuine fun and takes chances. Not surprising, as he had a lot to prove on this tour, finally stepping out of the Beatles shadow. In fact, the majority of the audience seen onscreen are not his original fans of aging hippies, but a younger demographic (at the time).

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero