Eagle Rock [Release date 10.06.13]
15 September 1975, seat A19 in The Royal Circle, Liverpool Empire. I was there for Macca’s hometown gig on the UK leg of the ‘Wings Over The World’ tour. My diary at the time recounts it as ‘extraordinary’ and certain moments – notably magnificent performances of ‘Live And Let Die’ and ‘Yesterday’ – still linger indelibly in fading memory banks.
Remarkably, this full concert film – shot on the North American leg of the tour in 1976 - has only ever been released for home consumption in edited Betamax and laserdisc formats, and it’s only now that the complete full length concert is being made available – fully restored from the original 35mm film with a re-mastered 5.1 soundtrack.
Featuring 30 songs from four concerts in New York, Seattle, and Los Angeles the tour also spawned the triple live album ‘Wings over America’, and what’s equally remarkable is that Rockshow wasn’t included in the recently released deluxe Wings Over America box set that retailed at well over £100.
‘Epic’ is a word that should be used sparingly, but this was McCartney’s first triumphant return to the US since the Beatles days and proof, if it was needed, that he could hack it in his own right.
Looking back, it’s interesting to see what a ‘team effort’ Wings were. OK, Linda was always a little ‘lightweight’, but there are towering performances from Denny Laine, Jimmy McCulloch and Joe English.
The late McCulloch, in particular, impresses in retrospect with some wonderfully understated guitar licks, while McCartney’s performance is peerless. What perhaps impresses most is how ‘tight’ the band and the brass and woodwind players (Howie Casey, Steve Howard, Thaddeus Richard, and Tony Dorsey) were.
Today, you generally get CD perfect performances with every noted practiced to within a millisecond. McCartney clearly had Wings finely tuned, but there is enough spontaneity in evidence to give the produce a real ‘organic’ feel – something you seldom get in the modern era.
Considering its vintage, the film has stood the test of time particularly well, and while there are some claims that McCartney’s vocals have been mixed up at the expense of the backing vocals on the muscular 5.1 DTS surround sound mix, I don’t think anyone’s going to quibble with the excellent sound quality.
Sadly, Macca’s become something of a caricature these days, but Rockshow is a fitting reminder of just how good he was at his post Beatles peak. *****
Review by Pete Whalley
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