Sir Paul: rocking with the best of them
Review: Sir Paul McCartney at Glastonbury
The voice may be croaky and showing signs of wear and tear, but it barely matters when an audience of millions knows all the words and are willing to sing along. Sir Paul McCartney certainly hit all the right notes on a night that showed why, a week into his 81st year, he remains peerless in the pop world.
This was the last performance of his band’s tour and he gave no hint at retirement. Looking exceptionally sprightly for an octogenarian, he performed for more than two and a half hours and showed he can still rock with the best of them.
Two years after he was supposed to perform here, he arrived on stage partnered with the Hofner bass guitar he made famous in the early Beatles days. It was an immediate signal to the audience that this was a man who may be writing new music, but knew exactly what they came to hear. Even the younger ones in the 100,000-strong crowd were familiar with the words. Part-through the set he joked how the Beatles songs were greeted with a sea of camera phone flashes “like stars coming out”, while the new stuff was met with “a black hole”.
The words legend and icon seem insufficient to describe an artist who not only gave us the greatest ever catalogue of popular music but is able to switch with ease from one instrument to another. On the piano he delivered the Beatles classics Lady Madonna, Let It Be and the anthem to beat all pop anthems, Hey Jude. Playing a ukulele given to him by the late George Harrison he began strumming the opening bars to one of Harrison’s most famous songs Something, described by John Lennon as the best track on the Abbey Road album.
Thanks to technology provided by film maker Peter Jackson, Sir Paul was ‘reunited’ with Lennon to perform I’ve Got A Feeling, with his former songwriting partner shown on a screen playing in the famous rooftop gig in 1968.
“I know it’s virtual, but there I am singing with John again. We’re back together,” said Sir Paul, who also performed Here Today, which he described as a song “in the form of a letter I never got to write [to John]” after he died.
There were other special guest appearances from Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen. Grohl flew over from the west coast of America for his cameo performance. “He said he’d come over, and I didn’t believe him,” said Sir Paul. “But he showed up”. Both Grohl and Springsteen joined a guitar-fest in the fitting finale, The End which concluded Abbey Road, The Beatles’ last studio album.
An appearance on screen by actor Johnny Depp, strumming a guitar to My Valentine co-written by Sir Paul’s wife Nancy, divided opinion, with some taking to social media to express their disappointment so soon after Depp was involved in a toxic court case with his former wife. Sir Paul also chose to make a political statement near the end by waving a Ukraine flag.
This, though, was a night for pop music purists and while Sir Paul will forever be a Beatle, the mammoth 38-song set was a reminder that he led Wings, another supergroup in which he produced some of his finest work, including Live and Let Die, Let Me Roll It and Band on the Run.
It’s a sobering thought that even a set this long could only include a fraction of Sir Paul’s prodigious output. An artist who can leave out classics such as A Day In The Life, Eleanor Rigby, Penny Lane, The Long and Winding Road and the solo tune Yesterday is truly beyond comparison.
- Can’t Buy Me Love (The Beatles)
- Junior’s Farm (Wings)
- Letting Go (Wings)
- Got to Get You Into My Life (The Beatles)
- Come On to Me
- Let Me Roll It (Wings)
- Getting Better (The Beatles)
- Let ‘Em In (Wings)
- My Valentine
- Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five (Wings)
- Maybe I’m Amazed
- I’ve Just Seen a Face (The Beatles)
- In Spite of All the Danger (The Quarrymen)
- Love Me Do (The Beatles)
- Dance Tonight
- Blackbird (The Beatles)
- Here Today
- Lady Madonna (The Beatles)
- Fuh You
- Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! (The Beatles)
- Something (The Beatles)
- Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (The Beatles)
- You Never Give Me Your Money (The Beatles)
- She Came in Through the Bathroom Window (The Beatles)
- Get Back (The Beatles)
- I Saw Her Standing There (The Beatles) with Dave Grohl
- Band on the Run (Wings) Dave Grohl
- Glory Days (Bruce Springsteen) with Bruce Springsteen
- I Wanna Be Your Man (The Beatles) with Bruce Springsteen)
- Let It Be (The Beatles)
- Live and Let Die (Wings)
- Hey Jude(The Beatles)
- I’ve Got a Feeling (The Beatles) virtual duet with John Lennon
- Helter Skelter(The Beatles)
- Golden Slumbers (The Beatles)
- Carry That Weight (The Beatles)
- The End (The Beatles) with Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen