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Paul McCartney & Wings – Last Wing (Mainstream MAST-025/026)

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Last Wing (Mainstream MAST-025/026)

Hammersmith Odeon, London, England – December 29th, 1979

Disc 1:  Got To Get You Into My Life, Getting Closer, Everynight, Again And Again And Again, I’ve Had Enough, No Words, Cook Of The House, Old Siam Sir, Maybe I’m Amazed (mistake), Maybe I’m Amazed, Fool On The Hill, Hot As Sun, Spin It On

Disc 2:  20 Flight Rock, Go Now, Arrow Through Me, Coming Up, Good Night Tonight, Yesterday, Mull Of Kintyre, Band On The Run, band introduction, Rockestra Theme, Lucille, Let It Be, Rockestra Theme (reprise)

The Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 represents one of the most extreme case of social engineering and genocide in the twentieth century.  The communist rule initiated a program by which all were forced to work in labor camps for twelve hours a day and the wholesale execution of professionals, intellectuals, and non-ethnic Cambodians. 

During this time the extent of genocide in the killing fields was hard to know since they forbid outside intervention.  Vietnam captured Phnom Penh on January 7th, 1979, the Khmer Rouge were forced out of power and it is estimated between  1.4 million and 2.2 million were killed over the four years. 

It is in this context that Secretary General of the U.N. Kurt Waldheim asked Paul McCartney for a concert to raise funds.  He agreed and three shows were scheduled at the end of Wings’ Back To The Egg tour.  After four nights of concerts, the organizer for the Concerts For The People Of Kampuchea Paul McCartney took the stage. 

Wings were touring the UK for the first time in three years in support of Back To The Egg and after several shows in the larger venue Wembley they played the more intimate Hammersmith Odeon.  This was the final show on Wings’ tour and, as fate would have it, the final Wings show ever.  Two weeks afterwards a planned tour of Japan would be cancelled when Paul was arrested for possession of marijuana and the band would effectively cease to be.  

All the concerts were professionally filmed and recorded.  Got To Get You Into My Life,” “Getting Closer,” “Every Night,” “Arrow Through Me,” and “Coming Up” and the Rockestra set are included in the movie Concert For Kampuchea and “Got To Get You Into My Life,” “Every Night,” and “Coming Up” as well as the entire Rockestra set were featured on the Concerts For The People Of Kampuchea LP released in April, 1981. 

The audience recording is a virtually complete, very good recording.  It is very loud and is distorted in the lower frequencies that are more noticeable during louder parts in the music.  There are cuts after “Fool On The Hill” and “Band On The Run,” but no music is affected. 

This tape was first used on the 2LP set Cold Turkey for Kampuchea.   This carried the complete show.  The title was taken from the headline in the Melody Maker review the following week.  During the week there were very strong rumors that there would be a Beatles reunion on the final night and many speculated that John Lennon himself was backstage during Wings’ set.  As it turned out there was no Beatles reunion but John Lennon’s manager was present.  

Wings were preceded on the bill by Elvis Costello & The Attractions and Rockpile (with guest Robert Plant singing “Little Sister”).  Wings hit the stage just around midnight and he McCartney greets the audience by saying “welcome to the midnight matinee” after “Got To Get You Into My Life.”  The show is undermined by the limitations of this particular incarnation of Wings and the  oddball selection of numbers to play in the first half. 

Only one song is played from London Town, and they chose obscurities like “Every Night” and “No Words” and Linda McCartney trying to sing “Cook Of The House.”  They play a bit of “Baby Face” before “Maybe I’m Amazed.”  After thirty seconds Paul stops and complains about a buzzing noise, saying:  “do you hear that buzz?”  He asks.  The audience responds in the affirmative and asks someone to fix it.  When it can’t be fixed he begins again saying, “Okay we’ll play it with the buzz then.” 

Later he says, “If there hasn’t been anybody falling asleep please clap your hands…this one’s called ‘Spin It On.'”  The show is redeemed in the second half with a string of very strong material with “Coming Up.”  The Glasgow recording would be a hit the following year.  Before “Goodnight Tonight” McCartney refers to the Beatles reunion by saying, “Over here there is a little creature that just appeared on the side of the stage here.  And this fellow here is not John Lennon, as has been suggested….But this little fellow here is gonna help us with the rhythm.”  “Yesterday” and “Mull Of Kintyre” are excellent as is the set closer “Band On The Run.” 

There is a six minute pause on the tape as the Rockestra comes on stage for the encore.  Comedian Billy Connelly gives a long introduction and introduces the musicians.  They are:  Howie Casey (Wings Horn Section) – horn, Steve Howard (Wings Horn Section) – horn, Thaddeus Richard (Wings Horn Section) – horn, Tony Dorsey (Wings Horn Section) – horn, Jummy Honneyman-Scott (The Pretenders) – guitar, Dave Edmunds (Rockpile) – guitar, Billy Bremner (Rockpile) – guitar, Kenney Jones (The Who) – drums, Pete Townshend (The Who) – guitar, Tony Ashton (ex Ashton, Gardner, Dyke & Co) – keyboard, Bruce Thomas (The Attractions) – bass, Ronnie Lane (ex Faces) – bass, Gerry Brooker (ex Procol Harum) – keyboard, Tony Carr (Brand X) – percussion, Morris Pert (Brand X) – percussions, John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) – drums, John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) – bass, Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) – guitar, Speedy Acquaye (Blue Flames) – percussion.

They were dressed in silver lame suit jackets (except for Townshend) and Robert Plant plays McCartney’s Hofner bass.  The simple set consists of the “Rockestra Theme,” Little Richard’s “Lucille,” and The Beatles “Let It Be.”  Critic Lou O’Neill phoned in a review of the show to WPLJ after the show and he speculated that song was played to address the disappointment of having no Beatles reunion that night.  The show ends with a reprise of the “Rockestra Theme.” 

Overall the final Wings concert is good, but the musicians themselves admitted there were problems with the new material and with the setlist.  Since McCartney had to worry about the logistics of the event and the band hit the stage extremely late, there is a hesitancy in the performance.  Mainstream did a good job with the artwork by featuring photos of the event and news clippings from the Melody Maker review a week afterwards.  For Wings and Paul McCartney collectors this is a recommended release.  And Led Zeppelin collectors also note that this is John Bonham’s final appearance onstage in England.   

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Paul McCartney & Wings - Last Wing (Mainstream MAST-025/026), 2.5 out of 5 based on 3 ratings

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