Paul McCartney Plays 2016 Desert Trip Set: Review

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Paul McCartney performs onstage during Desert Trip (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Desert Trip)

Paul McCartney performs onstage during Desert Trip (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Desert Trip)

Like the Rolling Stones 24 hours earlier, who had no trouble following Bob Dylan, the second night of the three-day Desert Trip festival in California belonged to show-closer Paul McCartney. Even though opener Neil Young had much of the buzz, Paul McCartney is, after all, Paul McCartney. The first portion of his October 8, 2016, set was an ode to the Beatles and Wings, with “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Jet” and “Can’t Buy Me Love” starting things off. Following his one wardrobe change, which consisted of him tossing his jacket aside, Macca stormed through a delightful array of hits and jokes, and even one Rihanna/Kanye West collaboration in “FourFiveSeconds.”

Watch the anticipation of the crowd as the band came on stage to perform “A Hard Day’s Night”

However, the problem with latter-year McCartney is that if you’ve seen him at his hamminess once, you’ve probably seen it all. That’s not to say there weren’t a few surprises. Bringing Young up for “A Day in the Life,” “Give Peace a Chance” and “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” were the first of the much ballyhooed Desert Trip collaborations and it was great. But, there wasn’t much rhyme or reason, nor flow, to the set.

Watch McCartney perform “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” live for the first time ever, with Neil Young

Dusting off “I Wanna Be Your Man” for the first time since 1993 was a surprise, but as is the norm at a Paul McCartney show, people want to hear the hits. It was the more candid moments, like dedicating “Love Me Do” to George Martin, and talking about the meaning of “Blackbird” and how it resonates today, that provided some of the more poignant moments of the show.

Related: Our review of Neil Young’s opening set on night two of Desert Trip

With a crowd-thrilling encore of the Abbey Road medley putting the night to rest, Desert Trip’s first two days managed to top the “Oldchella” crowd’s hopes and expectations for a weekend to remember.

Watch McCartney and guest Neil Young perform “A Day in the Life” and “Give Peace a Chance” at Desert Trip

Paul McCartney, October 8, 2016, Setlist
A Hard Day’s Night
Can’t Buy Me Love
Letting Go
Day Tripper
Let Me Roll It
I’ve Got a Feeling
My Valentine
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
Maybe I’m Amazed
We Can Work It Out
In Spite of All the Danger
I’ve Just Seen a Face
Love Me Do
And I Love Her
Here Today
Queenie Eye
Lady Madonna
Eleanor Rigby
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite
A Day in the Life (with Neil Young)
Give Peace a Chance (with Neil Young)
Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? (with Neil Young)
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Hey Jude

I Wanna Be Your Man
Helter Skelter
Golden Slumbers
Carry That Weight
The End

Watch him perform “Lady Madonna” and “Let It Be” at Desert Trip’s second weekend, one week later

The Who and Roger Waters closed the festival on October 9.

Daniel Kohn

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