Glastonbury 2022: Paul McCartney marks lengthy main stage return in nostalgia-heavy set

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Paul McCartney’s headliner set at Glastonbury was stacked with covers of The Beatles and Wings, and then it kept going on, and on, and on...

One-fourth of the Fab Four marks the oldest man to headline the Pyramid Stage, with Paul McCartney trooping out a procession of Wings and Beatles tracks at Glastonbury.

What a tremendous experience it was to watch, at first, with plenty of ground covered in a glittering career with at least a handful of hits for every decade.

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With such a backlog of tracks the real test of McCartney is not his endurance and energy but of which songs to play.

Naturally, the heavy-hitters are in there - from an opener of Can’t Buy Me Love to the usual suspects of Wings classics Band on the Run and Live and Let Die.

Old songs, new songs, “in-betweeners,” and a great time is had by the tens of thousands rallied around the stage and the many more watching at home.

Those old songs earmarked by Got to Get You Into My Life, and his newer tracks from the excellent Egypt Station LP are worth sticking around for.

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Hearing Let Me Roll It, though, that’s something else. There is something tremendously special for the generation born with this music and those that followed by listening to it decades later.

McCartney’s voice has, obviously, changed - but neither for the better nor the worse. He has an admirable skill as a vocalist and instrumentalist highlighted best of all by the Band on the Run era of his work.

For those mumbling about how his voice has taken a downward turn in recent years - perhaps it is because the point of reference is usually a comparison to pieces McCartney made when he was five decades younger.

Plenty of newer, solo endeavours are thrown into this lengthy set, with Dance Tonight making for a nice, closely-knit bit of slower, country-style feeling.

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Watching a legend of the industry at work will never get old, with McCartney and company displaying such a natural ability that has stretched out over so many decades - Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five sounds as fresh and engaging as it always does.

McCartney described the “black hole” response from the audience that comes from the newer material - but New and Dance Tonight outweigh some of The Beatles cover choices found later in the set.

This is not a greatest hits performance for The Beatles and Wings member, but an exploration of his discography as McCartney sees fit - from Let ‘em In to an outing from Kisses from the Bottom, dedicating My Valentine to wife Nancy.

Paul McCartney may have the endurance for over two hours of music, but do his audience? Paul McCartney may have the endurance for over two hours of music, but do his audience?
Paul McCartney may have the endurance for over two hours of music, but do his audience?

No rendition of Coming Up is included in this monumental headliner show, and all would be lost had it not been for the incredible cover of George Harrison’s Something.

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An inevitable outing of Band on the Run was all over the place, with Dave Grohl and McCartney battling it out for vocal prominence on a track that didn’t need The Foo Fighter frontman attempting to upstage The Beatles and Wings legend.

Still, Bruce Springsteen’s appearance made for quite the welcome surprise, although the length of the set was startling and, at times, meandering.

No perfect setlist is going to feature For the Benefit of Mr. Kite, let’s be fair, especially not when it starts winding down, rising up, and going on and on and on.

As tender a performance as many were expecting, McCartney’s second time headlining the Pyramid Stage is an infectiously fun and historic opportunity to fuse generations old and new together under the umbrella of one of the world’s greatest songwriters, even if it did need a half-hour chopping off the runtime.

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