Suspense rang thick through the air prior to Paul McCartney taking the stage in the headlining slot on Saturday night at Desert Trip in Indio, California. But prior to appearing in the flesh, decades of Macca-penned music emanated from the loudspeakers at the Empire Polo Club to accompany a massive visual display projected against his giant backdrop.
Whether it was “I Wanna Be Your Man,” “Helter Skelter” or the other final moments of majesty, this 74-year-old survivor more than filled the void of virtual Beatlemania and made it that much harder for a future year to ever top these inaugural festivities.
As it all transpired, a couple commented with awe that another rock icon was about to take the stage less than 24 hours after The Rolling Stones graced the very same venue, and then in a flash, Macca finally appeared to the sheer hysteria of “A Hard Day’s Night.” Even with that feverish response, Sir Paul sounded pitchy early on, struggling with “Maybe I’m Amazed” and sounding notably hoarse when he addressed the audience.
Regardless, he marched on for nearly three hours and pronounced, “we’re going to have a party here tonight, Liverpool style” as the band broke into “Day Tripper.” McCartney’s exuberance (in spite of slight imperfection) naturally spilled over to the crowd, inciting many to dance throughout “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Love Me Do” and “Back In The U.S.S.R.,” all of which served as the next best realistic scenario than seeing the actual Beatles reincarnated.
Even though that’s completely out of the cards, there was still a chance for collaboration via opener Neil Young, who joined in for three tunes. They started with the psychedelic staple “A Day In The Life,” shared joint harmonies throughout “Give Peace A Chance,” then dug into The Beatles’ deep cut “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?” (anchored by an incendiary solo from the guest guitarist).
Other slightly less expected selections included McCartney’s 2013 track “Queenie Eye,” plus a solo version of the Kanye West/Rihanna collaboration “FourFiveSeconds,” which seemed immensely appropriate given he was standing on the same soil as the millennial-skewing Coachella grounds. On a much more electrifying note, “Live And Let Die” erupted with a pyrotechnics display worthy of a grand finale, though thankfully, the show was far from over.
Not only did the one time Wings leader dial back in for a massive sing-along of his other band’s “Hey Jude” that had people of all ages acting as a unified choir, but he subsequently turned in a five track encore. Whether it was “I Wanna Be Your Man,” “Helter Skelter” or the other final moments of majesty, this 74-year-old survivor more than filled the void of virtual Beatlemania and made it that much harder for a future year to ever top these inaugural festivities.
Upcoming concert highlights at Desert Trip include The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan (Oct. 14); Paul McCartney and Neil Young + Promise Of The Real (Oct. 15) and Roger Waters and The Who (Oct. 16). For additional details, visit DesertTrip.com.