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Geoff's Articles

Almost Home

Geoff Baker reminisces on the last leg of the tour from Washing to Chicago

Part Five of the tour – from Washington D.C. to Chicago during the hottest July in history – was never meant to have happened.

When the tour was first planned, the wrap party was scheduled for April [after Rio] and no buts.

However, ‘no’ is not a word logged in the vocabulary of Barrie Marshall [tour promoter and born optimist].

So, the story goes, Barrie went to Macca with a plea along the lines that as Paul had just set a world record in Brazil wouldn’t it be a bit groove to keep going for just a little bit… just a weenie couple of weeks… well, a month would be better, just a little month… oh, come on, pleeeeeeeeease,… the tour’s cooking…oh, won’t you stay just a little bit longer…?

That sort of thing.

‘Sure’, said Mac, ‘I’m up for it. But you’d better check with Linda.’

Barrie worried. Linda, he knew, loved being at home, with the horses, the kids, the countryside. Would she want to keep schlepping around yet another bout of customs, flights, check-ins, limos, hotel rooms, check-outs…

‘Sure’, said Linda, ‘I can do another month. I’d like to… but if I can do another month on the road, Barrie… then you can go veggie.’

And so it was that an extra 636,500 people got to see the Get Back Tour and Barrie Marshall got to improve his waistline.

Leastways, that’s the story and I’m sticking to it [well, at least before this proof gets to The Editor].

Anyway, Macca wanted to play Washington on Independence Day – as we did – if only to say ‘Hey America, they say it’s your birthday’ before launching into the good old party stomper from The Beatles White Album

Washington was hot; 98 degrees in the street and an extra ten inside the R.F.K. Stadium where Linda, during sound check, suggested that the band’s now-favourite Ray Charles jam number should be re-titled Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Burning.

It took a full three minutes for the crowd to stop hollering before Paul could launch into Figure of Eight at the start of the show. This being July 4th, public holiday, most of the crowd appeared to be getting close to being out of it. The near-crippling heat provided the excuse to see off a six-pack every half-hour of the show and the sick-sweet haze that sort of hung above much of the stadium indicated that the drought hadn’t hurt the local herb crop any.

‘It’s too darn hot’, said Macce, shedding the jacket and launching into Birthday.

Given the heavy intake of booze and, ah…things, plus the sheer surprise at the song’s addition to the show, the response was explosive. Put-bellied geezers leapt on chairs which promptly collapsed beneath them, blondes whipped off tops to hurl at the stage – by the end of the set the ‘pit’ looked like some huge Janet Reager jumble-sale – and even the security guards gave up looking stern in the aisles and bopped there instead.

By the time he sang ‘Happy Birthday Dear America’ to ‘em at the end, their grins reminded you of the words of another fan – way back in the winter in Chicago – who’d said “I don’t care if I die and go to Hell tomorrow…because I’ve been to Heaven tonight.”

The storm-trooping momentum continued and grew throughout this, the last month of the tour. We didn’t know it then but the show had already grabbed the Billboard award as top grossing act of the year – beating the Stones, Madonna, Janet Jackson, beating all-comers – but playing to never less than 53,000 barking maniacs each night kind of hinted this was no longer another rock show. The crowd had changed, Paul was no longer drawing just the ‘McCartney crowd’, the old fans. Now it was kids, head-bangers, THE concert crowd rocking out there and getting Acid House crazy each night to Pepper and young couples getting off rubbing each other up the right was during Back In The USSR.

And the signs in the crowd changed too. Earlier in the tour, they’d hold up banners saying, ‘I Luv You’. Now you’d see

“Cute Then… Gorgeous Now’ {Note from Nichole – This was JaneP’s sign, that’s sooooo cool Geoff noticed it! :-) }or poignantly, “John Would Have Been Proud”. Or I swear, “I’d Give My Left Tit for the Front Row”.

Stranger yet was the reaction in Iowa, where Paul and Linda’s vegetarianism so outrages misunderstanding local farmers that the tour was branded ‘a hot bed of Satanist-Commie Conspiracy’ by leaflet-waving rednecks who picketed the show.

Radio stations threatened to ban Macca’s records in indignant protests that how dare he not eat meat dripping in lovely blood and one even hired a small plane to trail a banner over the gig reading ‘KDWZ Welcomes Paul ‘MooCartney’’.

“Burger off,” said Mac.

If a handful of farmers feared our voodoo vegginess, the powerful ju ju of chilli non carne cooking backstage for the crew didn’t deter the fans. Fifty thousand of them turned up for the one Iowa show, setting yet another record.

In fact, if anything characterised the tour it was this tendency to shatter records all over the world.

Check it out… Record-breaker McCartney bust box office previous bests in:

  • Wembly, London
  • San Fransisco
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Ames, Iowa
And then there was the little matter of that world record, beat all-comers, gig at Rio on April 21st 1990 when 184,000 officially got through the gate.

Then there were Macca’s personal bests –

  • Glasgow – the biggest Scottish gig of his career
  • Liverpool – the biggest Merseyside gig by any Beatle
  • Knebworth – the biggest British gig of Paul’s career.
Add to that Performance Magazine’s International Tour Of The Year Award, Billboards award for the biggest USA gig of 19990, a Grammy… and faces of the 2,843,297 people who left any of the 102 gigs in 13 countries smiling.

Not bad going for a lad who ‘only ever wanted to give ‘em a good night out.’

From Club Sandwich Issue #55/56 Winter 1990/91
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