In 1980 “Rockshow” was released in movie theaters across the country. This was from their 1976 North American segment “Wings Over America” tour. During the weekend on Friday night (August 7) it aired on VH1 Classic. It was part of their Classic in Concert series showcasing full-length concert films “Rockshow” was filmed for the most part at the Kingdome (now demolished) in Seattle on June 10, 1976 and in Las Angeles. It was the band’s first international tour and the first for McCartney since 1966 with The Beatles.
Paul McCartney, along with his wife Linda McCartney (keyboards), Denny Laine (rhythm guitar and formerly with The Moody Blues), Jimmy McCulloch (lead guitar), and Joe English (drums) were backed by a brilliant horn section consisting of four musicians (led by Howie Casey, Steve Howard, Thaddeus Richard, and Tony Dorsey) who all comprised the band Wings. There were no backstage scenes, interviews, or other side stories during “Rockshow.” It was like being in the audience and seeing the former Beatle as a solo artist, along with his band, firsthand.
The concert is filled with a Paul McCartney and Wings greatest hits setlist including Linda introducing the James Bond theme song “Live and Let Die” complete with pyrotechnics. Some early and latter Beatles classics were featured including the overwhelming crowd favorite “Yesterday.” In total 30 songs were performed in precise succession. Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch were given solos to give this concert a true rock show edge. Not only that, it wasn’t meant to be an all-McCartney “will the Beatles reunite?” show piece. During the mid-1970s anytime one of the solo Beatles performed in concert that question was always on the minds of the media and fans.
In the early 1980s “Rockshow” was later on Betamax (pre-VHS), VHS, and laserdisc (pre Blu-Ray). It was pulled out of circulation in 1982, though a grainy picture and low-quality sound bootleg has circulated for years. Finally in 2013 “Rockshow” has been restored and re-released. This was the version shown on VH1 Classic recently. If you’ve seen McCartney in concert in the last few years or during the 1990s, you will truly appreciate this classic rock cinematic concert piece.
He’s in exceptional form as Wings’ frontman who effortlessly goes from playing bass to piano to acoustic guitar. The range of music performed during this over two-hour film includes standard pop, rock, Americana, and of course Beatles. 1976 was a time when going to a concert meant it was strictly for the music, not with back-up dancers, lasers all over the stage, elaborate sets, and other high-tech innovations. “Sitting in the stand of the sports arena, waiting for the show to begin” comes from the film’s opening song “Venus and Mars.