Let's get something straight: it's Wings. Plain and simple. Not The Wings, not Paul McCartney and His Wings, just Wings.
Once you've got that settled, the proper way to identify yourself as a Wings fan is the hand greeting: both hands spread out, palms forward, with your thumbs bowing towards each other in the middle.
Both the passage of time and the deaths of singer/wife Linda McCartney and guitarist Jimmy McCulloch have dented my hopes for a reunion. (Also, Denny Laine apparently hasn't been seen or heard from since Paul misplaced his phone number in early 1981.)
But when Paul McCartney took the stage at Regina's Taylor Field last Wednesday, he proved that the spirit of Wings remains alive and well.
To be honest, when McCartney announced his “Seriously I'm Running Out of Names For These” Tour, with dates in Ottawa, Quebec City, Winnipeg and Regina, I wasn't terribly excited, despite his status as one of my musical heroes.
I'd never seen him live, but I'd heard some of his concert albums, and I was skeptical that a 71-year-old man who depends on Jell-O for protein could get the girls screaming like the old days.
But last week, with tickets still available, I grabbed a pair for my wife and myself, even with the lingering fear that the setlist would be heavily tilted towards Paul's “other band.”
On Wednesday, we joined the gathering throng outside Mosaic Stadium. Adrienne and I found our seats at the extreme south end of the east stands, up against a plywood wall.
Paul was 45 minutes late in taking the stage; I suspect this was to allow 44,000 people time to find their seats. The 170-minute show kicked off with a Fab Four classic, Eight Days A Week, enough to remove any doubts about the kind of show we were in for.
But pulling a semi-obscure Wings single out for song two (Junior's Farm) gave me hope. And when Paul introduced Listen To What The Man Said by declaring, “This is for all the Wings fans,” I was elated.
Live and Let Die was accompanied by a fireworks show that cost more than my university education, while Mull of Kintyre, played during the second encore, featured the City of Regina Pipe Band.
The Band on the Run album was well-represented, with the title track, 1985, Let Me Roll It and Mrs Vandebilt receiving play. We also heard Hi Hi Hi and some of his early solo singles, along with Here Today, his moving tribute to John Lennon.
(My Valentine, from Paul's latest album — the unfortunately-titled Kisses on the Bottom — was the only song in the show written within the last 30 years.)
In all seriousness, I love Paul's work with the Beatles as much as anyone, and I wouldn't argue with those who say it represents the peak of his accomplishments.
But it's always annoyed me when people act as if his talent largely evaporated after 1970. His '70s albums are consistently good, and even the '80s records have their moments of brilliance. So I was glad to hear a sampling from across the years.
Other thoughts: his band was incredibly talented, his voice strong, his stage patter entertaining, and all the songs sounded terrific, from the anthems and ballads to the Sgt. Pepper tunes that no one ever expected to hear performed live.
After finishing with the Abbey Road medley, Paul told the crowd, “We'll see you next time.”
Whether that was a meaningless salutation or a promise, I can't begin to guess. But if you're here, Paul, we'll be here.
Follow Joel on Twitter @JVDV88.