Five minutes into Paul McCartney’s Glastonbury headline set and it’s all a bit odd. A few years ago Glastonbury was preparing for a massive anniversary where it was rumoured we’d be getting all sorts of classic acts from across the eras… then Covid hit, and 2022 rose from the ashes with two brilliant young headliners and the sold sign of any big classic bands being 80 year old Paul McCartney. Okay, he was in the biggest band of all time, he’s got a huge catalogue of all time classics, but as he comes on stage and starts with Can’t Buy Me Love it’s apparent his voice is shot and the backing vocalists are doing heavy lifting.
Now, that feels harsh to type, it feels harsh to say. But the realistic situation we’re in is this isn’t prime Beatles songs, they’re gone. This is simply a night with an older, reflective Paul as he does his best as his catalogue and we mentally revisit the past… and for quite a big chunk that’s what happens.
Paul wins us over, of course he does. He dedicates a George song to George and plays with photos of the two in the background. He explains he never got to tell John he loved him, because of machismo, and sings a song he wrote after John died doing just that. He informs the crowd he knows they love the classics because everyone holds their phones up, and no one’s interested in the new stuff because it stays dark.
An unbeaten song catalogue fuels the next three hours. Some artists might tie that catalogue, but they’ll never exceed it. It’s a sweet, heady night where the past is happy and celebrated.
Then there are changes…
Firstly, it turns out Peter ‘Oscars’ Jackson personally put together some backing visuals. Then actual Dave Grohl comes out with a guitar to play with Paul, and suddenly the history, the super team up Glastonbury’s anniversary was lacking is here… and it only gets better when Bruce fucking Springsteen comes on. Out of nowhere we’ve found ourselves in a once in a lifetime event. I really, really hope no one left early.
It’s not clear how long Springsteen’s been waiting in the wings to come on. Not many artists can ask him to do that!
There’s still time for Let It Be, the best ever Bond theme, Hey Jude and a split the crowd into groups singalong which continues long enough for Paul to return and thanks to Peter Jackson’s technical wizardry, play a song with John’s vocals, which lets be honest is up there with Springsteen. The thing I will most take away from this set, which will enter the annals as one of the great ones, is Paul’s deep, still lasting love and kinship with John Lennon. How fate changes things. Brings tears to my eyes.