INDIO, Calif. (AP) — The Desert Trip festival may appeal to the Woodstock crowd, and the Who and Neil Young were on both bills, but the events couldn’t be more different.
Lance Albrecht, 65, remembers being at Woodstock as a teenager in 1969 and says he’s a lot more comfortable at Desert Trip.
“You can’t compare them,” he said. “It’s not even close.”
The three-day Desert Trip concert features a legendary lineup of classic rock acts. Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones played Friday. Young and Paul McCartney performed Saturday. The Who and Roger Waters are set to close the festival Sunday night. The festival repeats next weekend.
Woodstock was a muddy mess, Albrecht said, and once you got in, you couldn’t get out.
“It was thrown together,” he said. “There wasn’t any food or anything.”
Desert Trip, on the other hand, boasts gourmet dining, air-conditioned bathrooms and a museum-style photo exhibit of the rock icons performing at the show. It’s aimed at an older and more moneyed crowd than most music festivals, earning it the nickname “Oldchella.” Albrecht said he’d happily attend again if it’s offered, and he doesn’t mind the mocking nickname: “We embrace it.”
Gary Schultz and Ross Pringle came from Alberta, Canada, to attend Desert Trip. They bought tickets as soon as they went on sale because they had never seen any of the bands live before.
“The Stones were even better than I thought they’d be,” said Pringle, 59.
They said they have had no problems getting in and around the festival and would return if they liked the lineup.
McCartney and Young earned rave reviews from concertgoers. Young opened the show just as the sun set and rocked for nearly two hours straight.
A highlight was “Down By the River,” which became an extended 10-minute jam, with the 70-year-old singer-songwriter shredding his well-worn Les Paul.
Young joined the McCartney briefly during his set to perform “A Day in the Life,” which morphed into John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance.” The audience flashed peace signs as they sang along. Young played lead guitar to duet with McCartney on “Why Don’t We Do It In the Road?”
“Thank you, Neil,” McCartney, 74, said when his friend left the stage. “I love that boy!”
McCartney’s headlining 2 ½-hour performance was full of love. He paid tribute to his late wife and his current spouse during the performance, along with George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones.
He sang “Maybe I’m Amazed” for the late Linda McCartney, and he dedicated “My Valentine” to his wife, Nancy, ahead of their fifth wedding anniversary Sunday.
He brought out a ukulele to perform Harrison’s “Something,” but stopped the song almost as soon as he started.
“I’m out of tune,” McCartney said, alone on stage. “I’m going to get another one.”
A stagehand brought him another ukulele and McCartney began again.
“At least it proves we’re live, right?” he cracked.
Backed by a four-piece band, he played a few bars of “Foxy Lady” to honor Hendrix. He recognized the Stones with “I Wanna Be Your Man,” which McCartney and Lennon wrote for their colleagues in the early 1960s.
(The Rolling Stones headlined the first night of Desert Trip and covered the Beatles’ hit “Come Together.” Mick Jagger introduced it by saying, “We’re going to do a cover song of some unknown beat group.”)
Besides ukulele, McCartney played bass, guitar and piano. He performed his earliest (pre-Beatles) recording, “In Spite of All the Danger” from 1958, and his most recent track, “FourFive Seconds,” made last year with Kanye West and Rihanna.
McCartney accompanied himself on guitar for “Blackbird,” explaining that he wrote the song in the late 1960s after hearing of the civil rights struggles in the United States. He also shared stories about his first recording session with the Beatles, saying he can “still hear the nerves in my voice” on “Love Me Do.”
Also included in his set: “A Hard Day’s Night,” ‘’Can’t Buy Me Love,” ‘’Eleanor Rigby,” ‘’Helter Skelter,” ‘’Band on the Run,” ‘’Let it Be” and “Back in the U.S.S.R.”
Young’s set with his band, Promise of the Real, included “Harvest Moon,” ‘’Powderfinger,” and “Welfare Mothers,” which Young joked was “Donald Trump’s new campaign song.”
There were subtle and overt political overtones to the performance. Women dressed as farmers, in plaid shirts and overalls, pretended to throw seeds and tend small plants onstage before Young came out. Later, men in hazmat suits acted as though they were spraying the grounds. Young wore a T-shirt that read “Water is life.” An old-fashioned seed packet served as a backdrop for the stage.
“Tomorrow night come back,” Young told the crowd. “Roger (Waters) is going to build a wall and we’ll make Mexico great again!”