So it was surprising indeed that in a promotion that included multicolored vinyl reissues of Wings Over America, Choba B CCCP, and Paul Is Live—each a “live” release from a different decade—he chose to expand a release that had only been available as a four-song EP. Amoeba’s Secret was recorded at an in-store appearance as part of the promotion for Memory Almost Full, released first as a 12-inch and two years later on CD, then expanded to 12 tracks on the extremely limited Live In Los Angeles freebie CD, and to 14 via his own website. Now dubbed Amoeba Gig, the complete show finally became available on CD; the vinyl got a bonus “Coming Up” from a soundcheck.
So with all that, is the show any good? Oh yes. Such a small venue makes for a nice clean sound, and considering that this is the best band he’s ever employed on his own, the playing is excellent and the recreations masterful. (However, Paul “Wix” Wickens is not to be heard, his place taken by one David Arch.) As for the album he was ostensibly promoting, what became the usual staples are in evidence. “Only Mama Knows” and “Dance Tonight” appear early on, “That Was Me” is extracted from the middle of the “suite”, and “Nod Your Head” is an odd setup for a powerful “House Of Wax”.
The crowd goes nuts for the oldies, of course. The first surprise is “I’ll Follow The Sun”, fleshed out a bit with drums, keyboards, and goofy trick endings, while “The Long And Winding Road” still employs the (albeit toned-down) string arrangement he supposedly loathed. A well-traveled anecdote about “She Loves You” is a wide tangent to “I’ve Got A Feeling”, which has an extended guitar duel for a coda, followed by a blast through “Matchbox”. (Ringo was in the house, but not on the stage, sadly.) His timeworn fakeout of “Baby Face” before “Hey Jude” is about as spontaneous as his exhortations over the last four minutes, but you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be moved when he chokes up during “Here Today”.
Particularly following the hype and ballyhoo surrounding the overrated Egypt Station and its numerous repackagings, Amoeba Gig presents a nice little snapshot of Paul’s live capabilities. It’s also not as time-consuming as Back In The U.S., Good Evening New York City, or the various concert DVDs from other tours of the period.
Paul McCartney Amoeba Gig (2019)—3