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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Two friends, one big pond, 40 years, and two McCartney concerts

  • Bates says 'Mull of Kintyre' performance is particularly mind-blowing.
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  •     If his memory serves him right, Chris Bates and his friend, Graham Martin, paid 50 cents a ticket for sixth row seats to see Paul McCartney in concert on July 6, 1973 in Birmingham, England.
        “That was one month before I came to Crookston as a foreign exchange student,” Bates, now the superintendent of the Crookston School District, told the Times.
        Forty years and a few weeks later, on Aug. 12, the venue was way different, Winnipeg, Manitoba instead of England, and the tickets cost considerably more than 50 cents and weren’t anywhere near the sixth row. But the performer, McCartney, was the same, as were the two lifelong friends, as Martin traveled from his home in Litchfield, England to catch the show at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, also known as Bluebombers Stadium, home to the Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Bluebombers.
        The longtime friends were joined by their wives, Karen Bates and Shirley Martin, as well as Bates’ grandson, Jack, and their brother-in-law, Robin Steinbrink.
        “It was Jack’s first concert; he’d never been to anything like that,” Bates said. “What a tremendous memory to have of your first concert, Paul McCartney. He said it was unbelievable and amazing.”
        Bates said he loved the fact that the former Beatle and leader of the band Wings played so many old songs as well as a mix of obscure ones. One gem that really stood out, Bates said, was the 1977 Wings tune “Mull of Kintyre,” named for the southwestern-most tip of Scotland, where McCartney has a residence. The song is known for its resounding bagpipes, but Bates said that, first, he never thought McCartney would play the song and, second, that real bagpipers would actuallly play.
        “I told Jack about the song and he wondered where the bagpipers were, and I told him they’d probably just play synthesizers,” Bates said. But, then, out on stage marched the Winnipeg Police Department’s Bagpipe Band. “It was incredible,” Bates said.
        While the show was memorable, the company was even better, the England native and longtime Minnesota educator added. “At some point, life is all about things coming full-circle, and it’s about family and sharing experiences with your friends, your wife, your children and your grandchildren,” Bates said. “But this was an amazing, full-circle experience.”
        
        

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