Yeah, McCartney Rocked Coachella

plpiano1Sweating isn’t my thing, so despite many opportunities in past years, I’ve never ventured out to endure the heat of Coachella.  (Funny though, the blaze of Burning Man seems minor by comparison).

This year I couldn’t avoid it.  All signs of synchronicity were pointing to me being there.  First, our friend Michael Christian, an amazing metal sculptor from Oakland, who is known for his rad pieces at Burning Man, was doing an art installation there.  That insured easy backstage access and an adventure in camping in the Coachella Art colony area with all our friends from up north.  Then in another stroke of coincidence, a friend practically gifted us with tickets and VIP passes 2 minutes after I put up an ad on Craigslist looking for last minute tickets.  The final lure…. Paul McCartney was playing Friday night.

Now, I’ve always loved the Beatles, they define classic.  But I’ve never been chomping at the bit to see McCartney live.  My better half Dan, however, reminded me that this might be a historic event.  We shouldn’t miss it.  He was right.

Paul played for an unbelievable 2 1/2 hours and it wasn’t just a really great concert.  It was the best show I’ve ever experienced.  And I’ve seen a lot, covering live concerts for David Bowie, Eric Clapton, The  Police and Madonna as a filmmaker. So it takes a lot to rock my boat.  Friday night a tsunami hit me!

The desert air had cooled to a sweet 65 degrees, the air mellow in the  crowd of what I heard was 35,000 people, but some reports say was 75,000 strong.  The mood could only be described as high in the crowd, with ages ranging from 14 to 64.  And it wasn’t just from the smell of ganja floating in the air.

Paul started off with songs from Wings, then segued into “Baby You Can Drive My Car”.  Things got a little moodier when he did an enthralling rendition of “Long and Winding Road”.  He then told the crowd it was eleven years ago to the day of Linda’s death in the desert of Arizona. Despite the crowd, it the most intimate performance I’ve seen.  He choked up on his tribute to Linda during “My Love” and then swung back into action with a myriad of Beatles tunes and songs from every part of his career, including his new album he’s releasing.  He did a tribute to John and then sang a capella with a song on the ukulele that George Harrison gave him.

All in all, it was a massively impactful performance, blew every other act at the festival away. The crowd had a beautiful ride, dancing singing and cheering way past the witching hour of midnight.  We definitely got our money’s worth… and more.

3 Replies to “Yeah, McCartney Rocked Coachella”

  1. It’s good to hear about Paul at Coachella. While I’ve never seen him perform, I had the extreme good fortune of literally running into him and Linda on 52nd St. in NYC when I was but a mere babe out of Pittsburgh. Of course I was in a frenzy on the inside but somehow managed to be cool on the outside as I approached them.

    They were just walking down the street with another guy in a suit. This was 1976 and Wings was hot shit back then– or just shit to some as they had just released “Silly Love Songs.” They took a lot of flack for that from the Paul-haters.

    Anyway, amazingly, no one else was around on 52nd St. that afternoon and I had them all to myself. I stammered out to them both how much I loved their music. They were as sweet as could be. I remember Linda saw me clutching an NYU course catalogue and she took it out of my hands and leafed through it, saying, “Ahh, I went to NYU. You going there?” I told her I was and asked her if she and Paul would sign the catalogue, which they did, drawing a little smiley face to connect their two names.

    If you ever want to read what I consider the definitive Paul biography, I recommend Many Years From Now, which serves to set the record straight in great detail on many accounts regarding his role in the Beatles. It’s an unmatchable history of an unrivaled era in pop culture.

  2. I’ve always avoided Coachella, partly because of the heat and partly because I just can’t imagine spending three days with all those knuckleheads. Not all are knuckleheads, but you get that many people together in one place and there are going to be more than a few. Every year there are at least a few acts that I’d really like to see, but I’ve never been motivated enough to brave it. Reading your piece makes this the first year that I’m truly sorry I didn’t go.

  3. Cool story Chal. I can imagine that after my experience this weekend…. and yes Burns!, I’ve never wanted to go either. I hate massive crwods. But for some reason, everything flowed easily. Super mellow and happy was the vibe in general. Fun to walk from area to area and hear/see all the different music.

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