Wings Over Detroit 1976 (Misterclaudel mccd 144-147)
The Wings Over America tour covered thirty-one shows in twenty cities. It began with two stops in Texas, in Forty Worth on May 3rd and Houston on May 4th. It then moved north for two shows in Olympia Stadium in Detroit. Wings played multiple shows in the big cities on the tour, and Detroit is the first multiple night engagement. Like all the shows this was professionally taped but that has never surfaced. There are audience recordings for each of these shows but they are of such poor quality that they’ve never been pressed.
Wings Over Detroit 1976 presents new tape sources for the two Detroit shows. Both are significant improvements over what has circulated before and rank with some of the best sounding tapes from this tour like Boston and Toronto. Miserclaudel use very basic packaging as they do for all their releases. The inserts are one sided thick glossy cardboard with some rather common tour photos on the artwork and some liner notes on the back. It is however great to have such wonderful sounding documents of some hot shows given a silver pressing by the label and every Paul McCartney – Beatle – Wings collector needs to have this.
Olympia, Detroit, MI – May 7th, 1976
Disc 1 (68:42): Introduction, Venus And Mars – Rock Show – Jet, Let Me Roll It, Spirits Of Ancient Egypt, Medicine Jar, Maybe I’m Amazed, Call Me Back Again, Lady Madonna, The Long And Winding Road, Live And Let Die, Picasso’s Last Words, Richard Cory, Bluebird, I’ve Just Seen A Face, Blackbird, Yesterday
Disc 2 (57:58): You Gave Me The Answer, Magneto And Titanium Man, My Love, Listen To What The Man Said, Let ’em In, Time To Hide, Silly Love Songs, Beware My Love, Letting Go, Band On The Run, Hi Hi Hi, Soily
The old source for the opening night in Detroit was documented by a poor audience recording that was missing “Silly Love Songs.” The new recording is excellent stereo and almost complete. The opening is a bit fuzzy as the taper get into position but it becomes stable early on. It is missing “Let ‘Em In” and the first ninety seconds of “Time To Hide,” which are filled by the poor audience recording. The taper also hits the pause button between tracks in the latter third of the show to conserve tape, but no music or talking is missing.
Excitment by playing in the states for the first time in a decade carried Paul and the rest of the band through the opening night in Fort Worth. But the opening night reveals them struggling with some of the arrangements and delivering a very good but at times still performance. A problem in the sound system also interferes with the sound. The volume at the start of the show is very soft and at times the keyboards drop out of the mix. Paul mentions this before “Listen To What The Man Said” and quips, “it’s not too bad, you don’t mind?”
The audience don’t mind at all and give Wings an enthusiastic reception. It was during this show that someone game Paul a Detroit Red Wings sticker that he stuck on his 1964 Epiphone acoustic guitar.
The two minute long introduction that begins the show is the pre-concert music and the cheering and whistling of the audience before the first song. Wings cut the tension with the “Venus And Mars,” “Rock Show,” and “Jet” medley which began all the shows. Afterwards Paul says, “Good evening Detroitians. Are you feeling good?”
“Spirits Of Ancient Egypt” with Denny Laine on vocals never really translated well on stage and is noticeably sloppy in this show. They keyboards are also missing rendering the song rather flat. McCulloch announces that they’ll play a few piano tunes before “Maybe I’m Amazed” which was a surprise hit from this era. They follow with “Call Me Back Again” which is, according to Paul, “a song we recorded in New Orleans.” The first two Beatle songs follow, “Lady Madonna” and “The Long And Winding Road.”
Linda introduces “Live And Let Die.” The recording picks up very well the explosions that punctuate the power chords in the song and the audience goes nuts. McCulloch adds interesting heavy metal riffs by the end of the piece.
The start off the acoustic set with Laine giving a spirited performance of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Richard Corey.” “Thank you Dennis” Paul says before speaking about the rhythm box for “Bluebird.” McCartney even then liked to keep the quips and stories standard and before “Blackbird” he tells the audience the “pizza story,” how he cut his finger in New York.
A cut in the tape after “Yesterday” eliminates the Fred Astaire dedication for “You Gave Me The Answer.” The song has stylistic similarities with “Honey Pie” on the white album but is still unlike anything else McCartney wrote during Wings. It is a nice piece of catchy cornball fluff. Laine introduces the next song, “it’s all about three comic book characters who are appearing at the back at the moment.” There is an audible reaction to the big poster being lowered behind the stage.
McCartney tells the audience to bop around to “Listen To What The Man Said” because “I hear you can do that in Detroit.” The Speed Of Sound material is played bunched together from “Let ‘Em In” to “Beware My Love.” This is the fourth performance of these songs and the rust is evident. Especially so in “Silly Love Songs,” the big hit from the album, when the horn section forgets their cut at 4:46. After two measures McCartney decides to sing the final verse and the horns come in with their part. It’s a complete disaster. The show ends very strongly. The horns make up for the disaster by delivering a power performance in “Letting Go” as usual.
Olympia, Detroit, MI – May 8th, 1976
Disc 1 (66:29): Introduction, Venus And Mars – Rock Show – Jet, Let Me Roll It, Spirits Of Ancient Egypt, Medicine Jar, Maybe I’m Amazed, Call Me Back Again, Lady Madonna, The Long And Winding Road, Live And Let Die, Picasso’s Last Words, Richard Cory, Bluebird, I’ve Just Seen A Face, Blackbird, Yesterday
Disc 2 (59:24): You Gave Me The Answer, Magneto And Titanium Man, My Love, Listen To What The Man Said, Let ‘Em In, Time To Hide, Silly Love Songs, Beware My Love, Letting Go, Band On The Run, Hi Hi Hi, Soily
The tape for the second Detroit show is very good bordering on excellent sound quality. It is slightly more distant from the stage compared to the previous evening and has a bit of upper end distortion in the latter half of the show but still is very enjoyable. There are non-destructive cuts between some of the songs and one at 1:33 in “Picasso’s Last Words.” Otherwise it presents the complete show.
The sound issues in the previous evening’s show have been sorted out and Wings deliver a much more confident show. Again the tape captures the pre-show music and noise before “Venus And Mars” explodes into “Rock Show,” one of McCartney’s biggest concessions to arena rock. “Welcome to America” he shouts before the start “Let Me Roll It.” The reception is so crazy that Paul has to shout “Hey, sit down!!” to the crowd before singing the first verse.
McCulloch jokes about his Billy Preston suit and introduces “another song from ‘Medicine Jar’…. I mean Venus And Mars called ‘Medicine Jar'” before his song. It is profound irony that his most recognizable song criticizes drug dependency when he himself died of an overdose three years later. And on McCartney’s tours of late, when he sings songs to commemorate decesased family and friends like Linda, John and Paul, why doesn’t he cover this song to remember Jimmy?
“Maybe I’m Amazed” again begins the “piano set” and afterwards Paul thanks the “Detroitians” and “Motownians.” The explosions are again very loud during the performance of “Live And Let Die.”
It is the acoustic set that holds the true effervescence of the show with some intimacy between performer and audience. It is interesting that of all the arena rock audiences to have an acoustic set McCartney presents the longest with six songs lasting twenty minutes. The most Beatle songs are played in this segment of the show including “Yesterday,” the final Beatle song in the show. Such it is that before “I’ve Just Seen A Face” Paul becomes almost apologetic, saying “this is one we want you to stomp your feet or clap your hands to. Those of you who don’t want to, you don’t have to, so don’t worry.
Laine begins to introduce “Magneto & Titanium Man” but Paul interrupts, “is it a bird?” “It’s Batman” Denny jokes. “This is about three character friends of mine from the army. I used to be in the army!” The new songs from Speed Of Sound are played without any mistakes unlike the first night and the set ends with a wild version of “Band On The Run.” The two encores, “Hi Hi Hi” and “Soiley” were never big hits in America but serve well as good live ensemble playing. Both of these shows are in great sound quality and are worth having.