Paul McCartney & Neil Young Rock Desert Trip

By Sal Cirrincione

October 9, 2016

When Neil Young was asked what he planned to play at Desert Trip he said, “We have no plans... we won't know what we're gonna play until we walk out there.” Neil should have made a plan: his nearly two-hour set Saturday night at the three-day festival in Indio, California had more valleys than peaks.

He started out strong with solo acoustic performances of “After the Gold Rush” and “Heart of Gold,” but then began to lose the crowd with such less-familiar songs as “Comes a Time,” “Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)” and “Out on the Weekend.” “Harvest Moon" was another peak, but then recognized the weak response he was getting and asked, “How you doing out there?” and “How’s the other person?”

Things picked up during a 22-minute rendition of “Down by the River” in a segment with “Powderfinger” and “Rockin' in the Free World.” 

Neil tossed in a plug for Sunday’s finale with Roger Waters, saying, “Come back tomorrow ’cause Roger is going to build a wall that will make Mexico great again.”

Paul McCartney did many of the same songs he's been playing all year, but there were a few surprises. The first was the first live performance of The Beatles' “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” with a Neil Young guitar solo. (Neil also joined in on “A Day in the Life,” which went into a bit of “Give Peace a Chance”). And, for the first time since 1993, he played “I Wanna Be Your Man,” the song he and John Lennon wrote for The Rolling Stones, as a nod to the Stones, who covered The Beatles’ “Come Together” Friday.

Unlike Young, McCartney mostly gave the people what they want. At one point he said, “We know what songs you like hearing. It lights up with your phones like a galaxy of stars during certain songs, like Beatles ones. When we play one you don't know, it's like a black hole. So here's another black hole," as he went into "Queenie Eye" from his last album, New.

The first weekend of Desert Trip wraps up with The Who and Roger Waters. The same line-up repeats next Friday, Saturday and Sunday: Bob Dylan and The Stones on Friday; Neil Young and Paul McCartney on Saturday; and The Who and Waters on Sunday.

Paul McCartney's Desert Trip set list:

  1. A Hard Day's Night
  2. Jet
  3. Can't Buy Me Love
  4. Letting Go
  5. Day Tripper
  6. Let Me Roll It w/Foxy Lady
  7. I've Got a Feeling
  8. My Valentine (dedicated to his wife: "We got our wedding anniversary tomorrow, so this one's for you Nance!")
  9. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
  10. Maybe I'm Amazed
  11. We Can Work It Out
  12. In Spite of All the Danger
  13. I've Just Seen a Face
  14. Love Me Do (dedicated to George Martin)
  15. And I Love Her
  16. Blackbird
  17. Here Today (dedicated to John Lennon)
  18. Queenie Eye
  19. Lady Madonna
  20. FourFiveSeconds
  21. Eleanor Rigby
  22. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
  23. A Day in the Life/Give Peace a Chance w/Neil Young
  24. Why Don't We Do It in the Road w/Neil Young
  25. Something (dedicated to George Harrison)
  26. Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da
  27. Back in the U.S.S.R.
  28. Let It Be
  29. Live and Let Die
  30. Hey Jude
  31. I Wanna Be Your Man
  32. Helter Skelter
  33. Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End

Photo: Getty Images

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