Paul McCartney’s new horn section

The four man strong horn section of Wings, here from “Wings Over America”.

For years we have wanted this. We, the fans that is. Back in the seventies, Paul’s band Wings was strengthened with a four man strong horn section for the 1975/76 and 1979 tours. And they were supposed to play at the 1980 Japan tour as well, but you know…

They would not only play the horns in those songs that originally had horns on it, like “Lady Madonna”, they would also rearrange scores to replace strings with brass, like in “Yesterday”. One of the musicians was Liverpudlian Howie Casey on saxophone, formerly of Derry and the Seniors. You know, that band who wrote to Allan Williams and pledged him not to send that bum group The Beatles over to Hamburg and ruin the scene for them. That Howie Casey. The others were Americans Thaddeus Richard, also on saxophone, Tony Dorsey on trombone and Steve Howard on the trumpet.

These days, Howie Casey has formed a 14-man band called “Beatles With Wings,” and they are touring as a Beatles and Wings tribute act. You can read about that project here.

The new horn section

As we first saw during Paul’s concert at the Grand Central Station, he has recruited a new horn section, and we also saw them in Quebec for the opening concert of the current “Freshen Up” tour. After the concert, Paul also posted a photo of the full band, including the new three man horn section.

Paul McCartney with full band, including the horn section.

I for one is very happy that we now will have real brass live on stage at Paul’s concerts, and not just imitated horns courtesy of the keyboards of Paul “Wix” Wickens. And why not bring in strings as well? I was lucky enough to attend Paul’s concert at the Roundhouse in London back in 2007, and for once he was joined by a real string section. I can assure you, live strings really lifts the quality of the performance. Lastly, bring back the Rickenbacker bass guitar and you’re all right!

Now, let’s have a look at the current set list:

Set list from Quebec
  1. A Hard Day’s Night
  2. Hi Hi Hi
  3. Can’t Buy Me Love
  4. Letting Go
  5. Who Cares (Egypt Station)
  6. Come On To Me (Egypt Station)
  7. Let Me Roll It
  8. I’ve Got A Feeling
  9. Let’Em In
  10. 1985
  11. Maybe I’m Amazed
  12. I’ve Just Seen A Face
  13. In Spite Of All The Danger
  14. From Me To You
  15. My Valentine
  16. Michelle
  17. Love Me Do
  18. Blackbird
  19. Here Today
  20. Queenie Eye (NEW)
  21. Lady Madonna
  22. Four Five Seconds (Rihanna)
  23. Eleanor Rigby
  24. Fuh You (Egypt Station)
  25. Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite
  26. Something
  27. Ob-La-Di,Ob-La-Da
  28. Band On The Run
  29. Back In The USSR
  30. Let It Be
  31. Live And Let Die
  32. Hey Jude


  33. Yesterday
  34. I Saw Her Standing There
  35. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
  36. Helter Skelter
  37. Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End
 Quebec street flag

As you’ll see if you’re familiar with Paul McCartney concerts, the set list really hasn’t been freshened up as much as we would have wanted. Whole decades are neglected, as there are no eighties or nineties songs, for instance. Three songs from his current no. 1 album, “Egypt Station”, bravely enough including the controversial “Fuh You” among them. According to a Billboard interview, they are rehearsing a fourth song from the album to include in the set list in the future. Paul keeps insisting on singing “Four-Five Seconds” and we can understand that: That single has been streamed twice as many times as the most streamed Beatles song, “Here Comes The Sun”, and ten times as much as any other solo McCartney song.

“From Me To You” is the “new” Beatles song Paul has included, having first performed it anew at LIPA this summer. This is the first time a Beatle has been playing this song since it was dropped from The Beatles set list in 1964. It is also accompanied by “Love Me Do”, which he has played on previous tours, and also an even earlier song, the Quarrymen B-side “In Spite Of All The Danger”, also played during his last tour. Only one of the songs from 2013’s “NEW” album has stayed on, as has one of the McCartney originals from 2012’s “Kisses On The Bottom”. So, only “Here Today” from the 80’s, and nothing from the 90’s and the 2000-2010 decade.

12 Responses

  1. arrownet says:

    I suspect that the reason the Rickenbacker bass remains at home is that they’re so bloomin’ heavy; too heavy for his 76 year old back.

  2. Geert says:

    Paul Wickens is the worst thing that ever happened to McCartney's sound: a clean, synthesised reproduction machine of Beatles standards. Unfortunately he is also his longest collaborator ever … Let's hope this real horn section is a sign of better things to come!

  3. Teddy Salad says:

    I call McCartney's 1990-2010 period the Forgotten Period. As in, it's best forgotten. The '80's are close behind. Apparently, Macca agrees. As for bravely including Fuh You, I say pish-posh. Leave it off; crudity is not his style. My feeling is that it's a feeble attempt to reach a young audience. I guess it worked, based on 157,000+ sales.

    • Unknown says:

      Interesting view. Most would say that Off The Ground And Flaming Pie are two of his best.. also Chaos and Memory are both 8.5/10. Not a fan of Flowers, Driving Rain, Or New even though they all have their good songs. I also think besides the popular singles Egypt Station is one for the books 8.5. Anyways just shows the beauty of people and different opinions. peace and love

  4. Unknown says:

    wickens is doubling the strings section, anyway, in that live version.
    we can recall that the original beatles version has the string section doubled, too

  5. Sergio Taraddei says:

    Anyone knows the names of the boys of brass section?

  6. Unknown says:

    he can't stop touring without playing Beautiful night at least once… it's his best song ever… he just can't !!!

  7. Unknown says:

    I guess musical beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To these ears, some of Paul's 80's material ("Coming Up", Take It Away", "Wanderlust", "No More Lonely Nights", "Press", "Only Love Remains", "My Brave Face", "This One", etc…) is not only among his very best as a solo artist, but wholly worthy of sitting alongside his Beatles classics in his set list. A pity that other than "Coming Up", and the Flowers In The Dirt tunes, so few have ever been performed live, ever.

  8. Unknown says:

    any idea what songs the horn section plays on?

  9. wogew says:

    Joe Macnab saw him in Montreal: " I don't remember every song because they played on quite a lot. But I remember they played on "Live And Let Die", "Letting Go", "Let 'Em In", and many others".

  10. Unknown says:

    Everyone else on stage is named. His "horn section" is there individuals who have spent their lives perfecting their musical skills, yet they have no names. This is unacceptable.

  11. Unknown says:

    Everyone else on stage is named. His "horn section" is three individuals who have spent their lives perfecting their musical skills, yet they have no names. This is unacceptable.

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