Sunday, May 19, 2013

Beware My Love the Mists of Time

It was music as memory check.

Movieland was showing "Paul McCartney and Wings Rockshow," a chronicle of their Wings over America tour.

Since I'd seen them on that tour (don't judge), I was a little curious to see how the documented facts compared to my misty water-colored memories.

Among the things I'd forgotten were how dressed up the musicians looked (three-piece white suit, baggy black satin pants, pink-trimmed leather vest) and that there was a horn section (with two stellar Afros on the guys playing trumpet and sax).

Among the things I remembered about shows back then (and was reminded of) were girls sitting on the shoulders of guys for a better view (now we have slanted floors in venues) and how everyone had lighters at a concert, whether for cigarettes or pot.

The most defining memory for me of that show long ago had been the moment when Paul kicked into "Maybe I'm Amazed," how the lights had gone down, how it was the first song he played on the piano during the set, how I'd felt goosebumps when he hit those first oh-so-recognizable notes.

Bingo. The proof was there in the film, right down to my memory of the piano's placement and the heart-stopping moment when the lights came on and he started singing and the moment was absolutely perfect.

Likewise the strobe light show and smoke of "Live and Let Die," very of its time.

I didn't have memories of Sir Paul's low-key humor, but the film gave me examples.

"You're a grand bunch here tonight, I'll tell you that," pointing at the audience.

"Let's go back into the mists of time," before launching into "Lady Madonna."

I hadn't remembered the acoustic portion of the show at all, so the killer trio of "Bluebird" (with not one, but two acoustic 12-string guitars), "I've Just Seen a Face" (which he said "is known as a toe-tapper so tap your feet if you like it") and "Blackbird" ("I'm going to change to my other piano," he said, taking out a 6-string acoustic) knocked me out.

He followed that 1-2-3 punch with "Yesterday," which, yes, had girls in the audience with tears streaming down their faces at the moment.

Considering it hadn't even been a decade since the breakup of the Beatles, it was understandable.

I certainly don't recall any tears.

I was thrilled to hear "My Love" because it was the first song I ever slow-danced to, but judging from the beaming of the girls in the audience, it was "Silly Love Songs" that meant the most to them.

It was also the first point at which the massive wave of Bic lighters appeared to show the audience's love.

By then, we'd already seen plenty of shots of people smoking in the crowd, so why not?

One of the funniest unexpected moments came just as McCartney was about to introduce the stellar brass section while behind him, guitarist Denny Laine proceeds to do a handstand on the piano, unbeknownst to Paul.

It was the last night of the tour, so what were they going to do, fire him?

After Wings left the stage and the call for encores began, people began lighting sparklers and waving them, as if this would encourage the band to come back.

And maybe it did because they did two encores.

Ah, yes, the days when it was okay to bring pyrotechnics into a concert venue.

Speaking for myself, it's been a long and winding road from that long-ago Wings show to today.

Maybe I am a little amazed by it all.

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