Paul McCartney, ‘Glastonbury Festival 2022’ (Nanker Records 007)

Paul McCartney, ‘Glastonbury Festival 2022’ (Nanker Records 007)

Disk one: Intro / Can’t Buy Me Love / Juniors Farm / Letting Go / Got To Get You In To My Life / Come On To Me / Let Me Roll It – Foxy Lady / Getting Better / Let ‘Em In / My Valentine / Nineteen-Hundred And Eighty Five / Maybe I’m Amazed / I’ve Just Seen A Face (53:10)

Disk two: In Spite Of All The Danger / Love Me Do / Dance Tonight / Blackbird / Here Today / New Lady Madonna / Fuh You / Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! / Something / Ob-La-De, Ob-La-Da / You Never Give Me Your Money / She Came In Through The Bathroom Window / Get Back (53:01)

Disk three: I Saw Her Standing There (With Dave Grohl) / Band On The Run (With Dave Grohl) / Glory Days (With Bruce Springsteen) / I Want To Be Your Man (With Bruce Springsteen) / Let It Be / Live And Let Die / Hey Jude / I’ve Got A Feeling (Duet with John Lennon) / Helter Skelter / Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End (With Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl) (58:15)

Live at Worthy Farm, Pilton, England, June 25th, 2022.

Really, it shouldn’t have happened this way. Originally scheduled for 2020,  Paul McCartney’s appearance at Glastonbury was to be the hot ticket for the summer festival, a brilliant, subversive marketing launch making the whole appearance a glorious guessing game (Images of Phillip Glass, Emma Stone and Chuck Berry, geddit?) by his marketing department. The fact that Macca was over 14 years older than his peon to older age (written when he was but a child himself), ‘When I’m Sixty Four’ was one of the draws too. His voice less rich than it has been however making people suggest that maybe he wasn’t still the man for the job and maybe, just maybe, he should leave the task to the young ‘uns.

Thanks to a small matter of a worldwide pandemic, Macca was confined to daughter Mary’s home with the family, tinkering about as he was working on the soundtrack to a broadway play at the time. His idle moments turned, as they do, to doing what he has done for nigh on 65 years, give or take, noodling, doodling, playing with song. The fruits of this labour gave birth to a sprightly new album, the timely ‘McCartney III’ (Or ‘Egypt Station Part II’), 50 years after his solo debut, 40 years after it’s sequel.

Two years later, at the ripe young age of 80, stepping off of a celebrated US tour, Paul returned to settle his contractual obligation at Worthy Farm. The stars are alright tonight.

Putting on a secret show a night previous at a barn in Frome, Paul was in fighting form and not for him any of this promotional luggage from “McCartney III”, in fact the whole set was a love letter to an incredible career .. so far. A multi-song, three hour extravaganza of Beatles / Wings / Solo songs – Macca was making up for lost time after these last few years and seemed determined that whatever set anyone one else wanted to put on, he was going to pull out the stops to make sure that we’d all be talking about THIS ONE!

Firstly, the BBC were on hand to broadcast selections from this mega-set. For those of us too mean to buy tickets, too cash-strapped, to past-it to stand for too long, too adverse to queueing for the chemical toilets and having the resultant pee soak in to the hems of our mud-mottled jeans. Of course, ‘due to time constraints’ they couldn’t broadcast the full set but thanks to the technology that brought us the Stones set via satellite feed in 2013, the full set was quickly liberated and released by *gasp* – Piccadilly Circus, Nanker, No Label, Moonchild, Xavel and DAP. Nearly all of these labels included the full audio set with some offering the visuals on DVD and Blu-Ray R (Interesting that none of the pressing plants seem to offer a pressed blu-ray disk yet).

Secondly, he’s just been on a lengthy US tour, he’s 80 years old! He never takes a swig on a glass of water onstage – he was on stage last night! How’s his voice? Well ..

The recording starts with a wordless introduction, a few (electric) acoustic guitar strums before .. ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’. Carried along by the audience pretty much shouting along word for word (Almost – there are a few flubs but then Macca has had longer to get used to it than they have), bustling straight in to ‘Juniors Farm’. One of those deep-dive Wings tracks that no one knows. Paul sounds good – word of his demise seems not to have reached him and, while, no, he’s no longer 37, his voice sounds better than it has previously. This isn’t fan swooning, this isn’t trying to pull back the past, Macca honestly does sound like he’s managed to take the wheel again and ensure that he’s looking after his chops for a bit with the occasional throaty crackle. Maybe it’s the fact that this is a broadcast over a soundboard or an IEM, also but I was quite relieved that we weren’t getting a crackly, ruptured voice but something attempting a return. You’ll not hear Hammersmith ‘79 in his voice, you’ll not even hear 1993 McCartney but you do get an appropriation of turn of the century Paul which is the most we can ask for.

Surprised by an improvised “Happy Birthday” aimed at Paul from the crowd, the band strike through ‘Letting Go’, ‘Got To Get You In To My Life’, ‘Come On To Me’ – Sure, it’s the Beatles hits that everyone really goes off for but sticking in the “Egypt Station” song in there obviously still means a lot to him to do – the horns have been hired, why not use ‘em? – in a fanning way, it’s still nice to think that Paul still acts like he’s 22.

Those wind-instruments really bring a service to ‘Let ‘Em In’ too, swooping, barely-there guitar lines, a specially along side that thrumming, ponderous yet melodic bass-line. ‘My Valentine’ sits neatly within this set, unusually. Reserved generally for arena shows, goodness forbid that Macca could do a small club tour again but this would sound magnificent there. Personally, I’ve never thought a great deal of it, that said, like some of the songs that I retrospectively track-back on, it overcomes my initial nonchalance, and slots neatly in to the “I must listen to that album again” pile.

A solid favourite, ‘Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five’, I’ve always been impressed by and pared with ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’, then I think we’ve just reached what would ordinarily be my favourite part of the set. The former stretches out in to a florid heavy rock extension. The latter, a piece pulled from time and space. Unfortunately though,  Macca’s voice starts to drag here, and at the start of the song, it turns in to a strangulated wheeze – He manages to pull it back a little before the end though, before turning, inexplicably, to the high notes – put it down to the excitement of the show but it’s wearing on the throat.

Disk two (yep, bear with me) begins with Paul telling the tale of the pre-Beatles cutting their first acetate and the legacy of it’s return to Paul. Misty eyed and quivvery lipped, Macca takes his band through one of the Quarry Men’s earliest songs, it sounds brilliant, naturally, though it doesn’t get many people singing back the words as it predates even Glastonbury by nearly 10 years, there’s a nice call and response at the coda, which quickly engages the crowd. Naturally, running through the timeline of Paul’s recorded life, we arrive at “Love Me Do”. Paul’s reminisces of initially recording the song and George Martin’s request that Paul take a major part in singing the song brings forward a tale from Macca that’s really quite affecting – The way the crowd grab the mantle however is something else and I dare anyone listening not to be gripped by joy.

‘Blackbird’ delivers some fantastic sing-alonging by the audience – they carry Paul through some of the sketchier parts of his singing. The voice carries over to the blinding intimate, ‘Here Today’. Knowing that Paul will have half a mind on the fact that just days before, he turned twice John’s age, that John never got his chance to reconvene with his buddy on stage. It’s a powerful moment.

Paul takes this all back by joking that people switch off if the band aren’t playing a Beatles track just before he strikes up to play ‘New’, one of his better, later day songs though he twists the focus back by stepping back to the piano to romp through ‘Lady Madonna’ before going on to play, ‘Fuh You’. The two sound incongruous together like sides A and B of a record but at the half time period, it’s to be expected that there might be a little ruction. It certainly gets the crowds attention however – maybe these solo tracks aren’t lost on the kids at all.

Whipping out the uke, Paul begins his peon to George. The audience, suitably enthused, sing the song back with aplomb. As the band chime in to blow in with the big band finish, it almost seems a shame that Paul didn’t continue his appreciation alone really.

For the first time, Macca and his band decide to do something that they’ve never done before (at Glastonbury) and play ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’, an (insipid) version of the track from “Abbey Road”, this gets fused with ‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window’ for an alternate long medley – it works, it has punch, it’s ‘Get Back’, one of the tracks that Macca still seems to be able to do with less trouble than the rest.

Disk three (Yep, we’re getting there) is possibly the most intriguing of the three as Paul begins by introducing Dave Grohl – Thankfully the muscle behind Dave’s arrival means that ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ comes up a level higher than it could have done if it was just Macca and his band, curiously lifting Paul’s efforts an extra shade too. The vocals are certainly lifted by the duetting, an extra guitar on stage allows a little extra soloing to take place too. ‘Band On The Run’ is also beefed up by Grohl’s being, his histrionic wails a little much at times but he’s a great wing-man for the moment.

The second “surprise” lands for a cover of ‘Glory Days’ by Bruce Springsteen featuring, uh, Bruce Springsteen.

The first appearance of this coupling was a couple of nights previous when Paul was celebrating his birthday and Bruce joined in the celebrations then. Never less a party than anything else, Glastonbury goes mad for Broose when he enters, the choice of song not lost on the main field, you can feel the temperatures of this British summer rise a little more. As he’s flown over from the East coast, there’s no point in using Bruce for just one track so he sticks around for a hulking big version of ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ too.

Returning for the standard set list, ‘Let It Be’, ‘Live And Let Die’, ‘Hey Jude’, piano led crowd pleasers all, raise the roof of the fields as Macca fans far and wide really exercise their right to sing Paul’s songs right back at him and it’s really quite affecting as usual – especially the reprisal of the Hey Jude coda that the crowd are relishing – If not quite in sync with each other for.

Returning to the front of the stage, Paul brings on the newly formed Peter Jackson collaboration – Paul sings with John again on ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’. The track has found it’s way back in to the set list in the past few years, this year, it has been re-tricked back in to existence by using John’s isolated vocal to give the effect that he joins Macca and his band on stage – A bit of revisionism here and there but what’s new? Even in this audio led capture, it’s all dewy-hearted supposing – It’s a nice idea but it’s still not truly John’s presence.

Strangely enough, I might have gripes about Paul’s voice here and there but ‘Helter Skelter’ is helped by the rinsing of his faculties – He’s obviously trying his best over the devil-sent attitude of the scrawling guitars but he doesn’t sound half as bad as you might assume for one of the tracks that really tests the limit of his range nowadays. That, and it’s a perfectly good version that the band play too.

Finale time, out comes the ‘Abbey Road’ ending medley – A couple of champion versions of ‘Golden Slumbers’ and ‘Carry That Weight’ are preceded by a heady blend of 5 guitarists Paul, Rusty, Brian, Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl. Each taking their turns to play four bars each while the horns in the background lead the circular riff around the air until we bend to that most grandiose of exits.

A brilliant set, maybe a little laboured sometimes but then it’s Paul McCartney, a large bag of his greatest hits and a performance at one of the greatest festivals in the world. It would be churlish to disavow it just because the main star isn’t once what he once was – These songs are still a standard bearer in rock. Maybe you don’t need each recording from the “Got Back” tour, maybe any of them, but if you’re looking for a live bootleg version of Paul’s greatest hits, along with a few “new” versions – and nearly 3 hours of it – this is it. Worth checking out.

Review by Stu

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