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Arts and Entertainment

Videos: Paul McCartney And Neil Young Share The Stage And Play Beatles Classics At Desert Trip

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With temperatures soaring as high as 99 degrees on Saturday, Desert Trippers sought refuge from the heat while waiting for Neil Young to grace the stage in the early evening.

The Desert Trip Photography Experience, which didn't see much action on Friday, had a line of hundreds waiting to get into the air conditioned tent. It wasn't even ticketed or controlled in any way—it just took people a while to stroll in. Once inside, though, the refugees from the heat were treated to an amazing exhibition of rock and roll photography, with many photos rarely seen.

The subjects of the gallery were the six acts that would grace the Desert Trip this weekend, and many of the photos tore down the rock star facade that we come to know them through. Terry O'Neill's stunning compositions captured the nastyboy Rolling Stones during more candid moments offstage. Elliott Landy's photos of Bob Dylan showed the troubadour at home with his children, and even enjoying a moment on a trampoline. Most stunning were Henry Diltz's photos of Neil Young at home in Broken Arrow Ranch, laughing at his children's fart jokes and driving with his dog. Be sure to drop by when you can.

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(Annie Lesser/ LAist)
During his Crazy Horse tours in the 1970s, Young was known for the roadies dressed as Jawas that graced the stage. At Coachella, with his stage's backdrop a gigantic burlap sack of organic seeds, two women graced the stage ahead of Young, "planting" crops. After a few songs, men in hazmat suits seemed to "spray" these crops with pesticides. Shit, was Young going to do a whole set of songs about Monstanto?

Thankfully, no—but many of the songs in his setlist fit into his overarching theme of environmental activism. "We got Mother Nature on the run / In the 21st century," he sang in "After The Gold Rush," updating the lyrics to his classic:

He was soon joined The Promise of the Real, his most recent backing band (fronted by Willie Nelson's son, Lukas). "Harvest Moon" was a crowd pleaser:

And I'm not even going to preface it in any way here--I'll just put what I have written in my notes (all caps are verbatim): "POWDERFINGER MELTED MY FACE":

And if that wasn't enough, that was immediately followed by a 20-minute jam of "Down By The River" that my ears are still recovering from. Neil Young, the godfather of stoner metal:

Young also debuted a handful of new songs that, in true Neil Young fashion, were pointedly political. "Neighborhood" and "Peace Trail" tapped into our post-9/11 anxieties and fears, but the lyrics to both could still use a little workshopping.

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And you know he wouldn't let the night go by without mentioning Donald Trump. "Come back tomorrow night," he said to the crowd, "because Roger [Waters]'s gonna build a wall and Make Mexico Great Again!" Performing "Welfare Mothers," he called it "Donald Trump's new campaign song."

And with time running out in his set, Young tore into "Rockin' in the Free World," which was once Donald Trump's campaign song. "Fuck you, Donald Trump."

When you're the pop geniuus of the most popular band of all time (and have a mostly-excellent solo career to boot), it doesn't take much to please tens of thousands of fans who braved the desert to see you.

Paul McCartney played a two-and-a-half hour set that got better as it went along, serenading the crowd with "some old songs, some new songs, and some in between ones." His soft voice is a little rough around the edges now, but it was palpable that he aimed to last please last night. The setlist truly spanned both ends of career, from the first Quarrymen song he recorded with John and George, "In Spite of All the Danger", to last year's collaboration with Kanye West and Rihanna, "FourFiveSeconds."

McCartney's set felt like a career retrospective curated by McCartney himself, playing Beatles favorites, Wings hits, and recalling stories of George Harrison, John Lennon and Beatles producer George Martin (notably, Ringo Starr got no mention). "To this day when I hear the record, I can hear the nerves in my voice," he said after "Love Me Do," one of the first songs they recorded with Martin.

Halfway through, McCartney brought Neil Young back onstage, and the two dueted on a few tunes, including Lennon's anthem "Give Peace A Chance," and the Beatles opus "A Day In The Life:"

The Stones may have the sound and style that lends itself to a spectacle, but McCartney rose to the challenge on Saturday night. The home stretch of Macca's set rolled through some of the more rollicking tunes in his catalog--"Band On The Run," "Back in the U.S.S.R."--and wrapped with a pyrotecnics show that topped even the Rolling Stones for "Live and Let Die," followed by a crowd singalong for "Hey Jude."

And what more appropriate way to close out the encore than with the Abbey Road medley?

I can't believe there's one more day of this. It'll be hard to top Saturday night.

Desert Trip wraps up on Sunday night, with The Who and Roger Waters.

Previously: Photos: Desert Trip Kicks Off With Bob Dylan And The Rolling Stones (Day 1)
The Classy Farm-To-Table Dining Of Oldchella

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