Ride In The Sky (Watch Tower WT 2004126/7)
Boston Garden, Boston, MA – May 22nd, 1976
Disc 1 (6804): Audience, Venus & Mars/Rockshow, 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 & Let Die, Picasso’s Last Words, Richard Corey, Bluebird, I’ve Just Seen A Face, Blackbird, Yesterday
Disc 2 (5950): You Gave Me The Answer, Magneto & 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
Paul McCartney and Wings played in Boston in the middle of Wings Over America in 1976. There are several tape sources in circulation, but the best is the Steve Hopkins recording. The same one responsible for excellent Pink Floyd and Genesis recordings from the Boston Garden, the Wings tape is an excellent stereo audience recording capturing the performance and atmosphere in the venue perfectly.
The only real flaw in the recording is the right channel leveling up suddenly twenty-five seconds into “Lady Madonna” on disc one. Otherwise it captures the entire concert including the “Hi Hi Hi” encore. “Soiley” was normally played as a second encore, but was dropped this not and not played. Hopkins kept the tape running after the final number and the disappointed groans from the audience confirm its omission by the band.
There were two pressings of the tape in 2004. The first was Live In Boston, USA 22 May 1976 (SRS Records Vol. 14), a Russian production. SRS included “Soiley” from the June 23rd Los Angeles show and an interview of Paul McCartney taped for Alison Steele’s “Nightbird” show on WNEW in New York.
Watch Tower released Ride In The Sky in 2004. The Japanese label chose not to include the bonus material, but rather presents the Boston show only. There is little evidence of remastering on the part of the label, thus allowing the brilliance of the tape to be heard … naked.
The tape starts off with the audience buzzing at the dimming of the lights. The gentle opening notes to “Venus & Mars” are met with applause. The band hit the stage with “Rock Show” and its perfect segue into “Jet.”
After “Let Me Roll It,” one of the heaviest and liveliest numbers Wings perform, Paul comments, “you’re a grand bunch tonight. Do we have an Irish in the audience? Ahhhh, old friends.” Denny Laine dedicates “Spirits Of Ancient Egypt” to “that family out there” and Jimmy McCullough is introduced and asks if there are any Scottish in the audience (to a few befuddled cheers).
They play a spirited version of “Medicine Jar” and afterwards Paul jokingly sings they’re really rockin’ in Boston…” the first line of Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen.” The audience become very agitated and fight about their seats and drown out the very beginning of “Maybe I’m Amazed.”
“Live And Let Die” ends the initial “piano” section of the set list and lacks the pyrotechnics of other performances (Boston Garden banned the use of explosives in rock concerts in the seventies). The long acoustic set begins with “Picasso’s Last Words” and the final number is “Yesterday,” earning perhaps the biggest ovation of the night.
“What’s it like living in Boston? New England, yeah, I suppose” Paul asks at the beginning of disc two. He gives the normal Fred Astaire dedication to “You Gave Me The Answer” and begs the rowdy audience to not hurt him. “Please don’t hurt anybody” McCullough says off mic, presumably to some violence in the audience. “Fred wouldn’t hurt a fly” Paul quips. They give another great performance but the clarinet hits a bum note by the beginning.
The queries about homes gets out of hand when Laine asks if anyone is from Salem before “Magneto & Titanium Man.” He draws a few sarcastic cheers for that. Afterwards the audience gets so out of hand that Laine has to tell them to be cool. Paul asks for peace and love before starting “My Love.”
By this point in the show the band are extremely loose and are definitely hot. Thaddeus Richard’s tenor sax solo in “Listen To What The Man Said” is scorching and a real pleasure to listen to! Macca tells the audience that they recorded a new album called At The Speed Of Sound and will play a few numbers, “tracks 3, 5, and 7.” Laine plays hard enough to almost murders the snare drum.
Before “Time to Hide” Denny again jokes around singing “I wanna hold your leg.” Someone close to the mic replies, “Which one!” Laine dedicates the song to his mother-in-law Helen in the audience. The biggest ovation for “Silly Love Songs” which was number 1 on the Billboard chart that week.
The show ends with the two magisterial tunes, “Letting Go” and “Band On The Run.” The full length of cheering is present on the tape, about four minutes, before they return for the only encore “Hi, Hi, Hi.” Instead of playing “Soiley” they take off for two shows in New York.
Ride In The Sky is packaged in a slimline jewel case with a four page insert with several photographs. The Boston show on this tour isn’t as well known as others (like New York, Seattle or Los Angeles which comprised the bulk of the movie Rockshow). It is worth investigating, however, for the hot performance and excellent sound quality.