Paul McCartney Blasts Through Desert Trip Curfew With Tributes and Stunning Hits Set
Paul McCartney sailed past another California desert festival curfew on Saturday night when he kept playing past midnight at the inaugural Desert Trip. The former Beatle’s two-and-half-hour set stretched into the early hours of Sunday morning after a delayed start but it was a magical night, which began with a stunning two-hour set from Neil Young.
The Canadian rocker also joined pal McCartney onstage for a three-song medley, including “A Day in the Life” and The Plastic Ono Band’s “Give Peace a Chance.” Macca famously ignored a similar desert curfew when he headlined the Coachella festival at the same Indio, CA location in 2009, which cost the organizers dear. It’s not clear how much they will have to pay for the singer’s latest extended set. Sir Paul was in a reflective mood, offering up tributes to Jimi Hendrix, his late bandmates John Lennon and George Harrison, and George Martin, the record producer who put the Beatles on the map. The magic of headlining the first Desert Trip was not lost on McCartney, who took a moment a few songs into his marathon set to “drink this all in for myself” as he gazed out at 80,000 music fans. The rocker kicked off his historic set with the Beatles’ “Hard Day’s Night,” Wings classic “Jet” and the Fab Four’s “Can’t Buy Me Love” and he littered his performance with those bands’ hits, including “Band on the Run,” “We Can Work it Out,” “Love Me Do,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Lady Madonna,” and “Blackbird.” There were also dedications to his wife Nancy Shevell (“My Valentine”), who was in the audience, and his late wife Linda (“Maybe I’m Amazed”), and a few quirky stories about the recording of “Love Me Do,” Hendrix asking Eric Clapton to help tune his guitar during a show, and a gig in Moscow, Russia. But the highlights began with Young’s introduction and ended with a rousing version of Wings hit “Live & Let Die,” complete with exploding London visuals and a firework display, and a sing-along “Hey Jude.” McCartney and his band left the stage bang on midnight and then returned waving flags for the encore, which began with a cheeky response to The Rolling Stones’ cover of the Beatles’ “Come Together” at Desert Trip the night before. Instead of playing a Stones original, Macca opted to perform “I Wanna Be Your Man,” noting it was “one that me and John (Lennon) wrote for them.” As happy fans started filing out of the festival site well after midnight, McCartney wrapped things up with “Helter Skelter” and “Carry The Weight” and was clearly moved by the mega gig as confetti showered down on the stage and fireworks lit up the Indio night. McCartney will be back for the second Desert Trip weekend next Saturday, while Roger Waters and The Who will close out the first weekend of the new festival on Sunday.