The Evening Which Will Forever Highlight My Musical Life
Aug 15, 2000 (Updated Aug 16, 2000)
Sometime in the late 1980's I came to the horrible realisation that I did not like new music anymore. The offerings on the radio seemed like so much rubbish to me.
One fine day, I had the good fortune to win $100 in a radio contest. Someone from the radio station in question actually drove out to my house and handed me an envelope full of ten crisp ten dollar notes! Being the sort of person who likes spending, I decided that I would purchase some new albums for my already expansive vinyl collection. I caught a bus to "Garden City", one of the largest local shopping centres, and made with all haste towards the record store. I browsed for over an hour, but was of course unable to find anything which even remotely interested me - That was, until I arrived at the "B" section and spotted The Beatles albums. I thought about it.... My mother owned a copy of Please, Please Me and I always enjoyed it thoroughly, so being adventurous and spendthrifty, I picked out half a dozen Beatles albums and thus began my musical rebirth.
Several years later in early 1993, I was a seasoned Beatles fan and had ventured strongly into Wings and Paul McCartney in general. Along my path to musical enlightenment, I had converted a number of my friends, mainly from my constant playing of Abbey Road during our frequent poker games.
In March of '93 as part of the "New World Tour" to promote the new Off The Ground album, Paul was to play one concert in my home town of Perth, Western Australia. The tickets were expensive, but one of my convert mates told me that we would be crazy not to go, because after all, even back then Paul McCartney was not getting any younger and another chance to see him live seemed unlikely in the extreme so I finally agreed and to this day I am a very happy man that I can say that "I saw Paul McCartney Live - One of the Beatles".
The show was to take place at Subiaco Oval, the largest stadium in Western Australia which is used primarily as a venue for Australian Rules Football. The large stage was erected down the eastern end of the ground and concert-goers were seated either in the western half of the stadium, or on plastic seats on the grass in front of the stage. I was quite pleased to be on the grassed section, about 60 or so rows back from the stage, but still with a very good view of what was going on. The stage was impressive, with huge speaker stacks and a couple of really large screens which presumably would show some sort of video during the show.
Australian singer Jenny Morris opened for McCartney and I was quite pleased by this as she was one of the few artists of the time which I actually quite liked. Jenny sang two songs, but then seemed to leave the stage in a huff. The audience didn't seem very interested in her at all. I think the majority of the crowd was a fair bit older than I was at the time (20) and after all, everyone knew who they had come to see. I felt bad for Jenny Morris because she is a talented singer and I was enjoying seeing her. Perhaps some idiots up close to the stage had been taunting her or something. I will never know.
After Ms Morris' abrupt departure from the stage, I flicked idly though the magazine which we had all been issued with as we entered the stadium. It was pleasant enough reading, but I would have liked to have read more about Paul and Linda McCartney musically and less about vegetarianism and cosmetic testing on rabbits (although I have no problem with the first and am disgusted by the latter).
Finally Paul and his band appeared on the stage and it was worth the wait!
The show opened with a rendition of the old Beatles song Drive My Car and despite the very different sound of Linda & co providing backing vocals it was fantasic and really set the scene for what was to come. Next came Coming Up a McCartney song which I have always found very fun and also a personal favourite of the friend who had accompanied me. It was an absolute joy to be there. The sound quality was excellent, far better than the Robert Palmer concert I had attended a year or so previously at the Perth Entertainment Centre. (DISCLAIMER: I won the Robert Palmer tickets in yet another radio competition.)
After the excitement of the first two songs, we were greeted with the first of several songs from the new Off The Ground album. The audience listened politely, waiting for it to be finished so they could have something familiar to bounce along to. The big screens had flashed into life and images relating to the songs began to appear for all to see - During Peace In The Neighbourhood, I remember pictures of old, Italian-looking men and women. At the time, I found the new songs rather dull, but expected them to grow on me after a while. To my surprise a few months later, the whole Off The Ground album had completely failed to grow on me at all and to this day that album remains dusty and unused at the bottom of my collection. The new songs did little to dampen my enthusiasm at the time though and in no way lessened the experience of the concert.
A little later in the evening, the opening "Bwah bwah ba ba" of Jet burst from the stage and things really got going. The song sounded as good live as it did on my album at home and I wondered how many of the bands and artists arriving on the musical scene at that time would have been able to reproduce their songs so accurately when playing live.
Ok, now here is the low point of the concert for me.... You know how at every concert you attend, there is some point where the singer says something to the crowd - In this case it was "You are the best audience we have had" - and some idiot yells out a smart-arsed reply at the top of his lungs? Know what I mean? Well in this case, that idiot was me! I usually am good at getting laughs when I make witty comments at large gatherings, but from the moment I had finished yelling "I bet you say that to all the audiences!", I wished I hadn't. No one laughed, everyone sat there presumably thinking "What a moron". Mercifully the next song began and I faded back into anonymity.
After what seemed like only a little over an hour, the show appeared to be at an end. Paul called out to us "Thankyou very much! Goodnight!" and Paul, Linda and the others waved and left the stage. "Gee", I wondered. "They have not played Band on the Run or Hey Jude yet... -COULD- this be the bit where they pretend the show is over, the crowd begins the slow hand-clap and much to everyone's surprise the stars re-appear to play a few more songs"? I was confident this was the case, but I was a little worried that perhaps the same clowns who had chased off Jenny Morris had upset Paul... Luckily my original assumption proved correct.
The "encore" part of the show was even better than the first part and seemed to last almost as long. Beatles numbers abounded in this lot, including Penny Lane, Back In The USSR and I Saw Her Standing There. My mate and I were delighted when one of our favourite Wings songs, Let Me Roll It from the Band On The Run album put in an appearance and finally, the show rounded off with the unforgettable and completely wonderful Hey Jude.
My friend and I missed our bus and had to walk for two hours to his Aunt's house in order to get a lift home (It was late and we had no change for a phone - Don't ask me why we didn't call collect), but we didn't care. All we could do was talk about the show.
The next day, I read a review of the concert in the newspaper. The review told of "Bored crowds" and of scores of people "Leaving early" and all sorts of other rubbish. I did not see a soul leave until about 10 minutes after the final song and everyone I know who attended that concert has had nothing but praise to report. I felt very bad and hoped that Paul did not happen to read the review. I guess he knew that we enjoyed the show and is used to lame reviews from the press.
So there you have it, my retelling of the proudest evening of my music-appreciation life to date. You can think what you like of my reviews on Epinions, but the one thing that no one can ever take away from me is the fact that I, Mike Price have seen the great Paul McCartney live in concert!