Paul McCartney’s Glastonbury set was hailed as one of the greatest major performances of this generation as a crowd of over 100,000 gathered at the festival’s famous Pyramid Theater to watch him play.
Join him on stage Bruce Springsteen And Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters — and even sang a duet with old bandmate John Lennon, using special effects created by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson.
Eyebrows were raised when it was announced that McCartney, who turned 80 last week, would top the list, becoming the oldest finisher in Glastonbury’s 52-year history.
But any doubt was torn apart when McCartney finished nearly three hours of the show with rousing fireworks and group vocals for “Tit It Be, Oh Good and Live and Late Day.”
“He exceeded all expectations,” said Richard Martin, 75, part of the largest crowd the Pyramid Theater has ever seen.
He said, “Although I’m about his age, I’ve never seen the Beatles – my wife was one of those teens who scream – but he just made it.
“He was a genius. Of course he’s a professional – he’s been at it for half a century. The people behind us were in their twenties and knew the songs backwards – which is a wonderful testament to the durability of songs.”
Nearly 4 million people tuned in to watch from home, attracting rave reviews. Parents Alexis Petrides said: McCartney’s biggest hit was “as sexy as pop music gets”, while The Independent called it “the best this writer has seen on the pyramid scene in 30 years of Glastonburies”.
It was hailed by the Sunday Telegraph as “one of the most exciting, exciting, cigarette-filled, star-studded combos this 50-plus-year-old festival has ever seen”.
Some festival-goers were camping all day to approach the pyramid stage and it turned out to be a reasonable decision. The crowd easily reached 100,000 people, where they ranked along with the largest attendance of the Al-Ahram stage alongside the Rolling Stones in 2013.
By 9 p.m., half an hour before McCartney rose to the stage, it was impossible to get anywhere near the front as huge crowds of people swarmed from all corners of the 900-acre site.
“It was unbelievable,” James Jack, 35, said after screaming with Bond hit Live and Let Die — musically, there was one of the most touching moments of my life. Movies with your dad when you’re six. That was a boyish moment. For me, it really moved me forward. It’s the kind of thing you tell your grandchildren about.”
Grohl, who had to pull out of a major show in 2015 after breaking his leg, became Macca’s surprise to see her standing there, promptly followed by Band on the Run. Even before Bruce “Chief” Springsteen arrived, the crowd was soaring with glee.
Grohl and Springsteen, rock icons who traveled from the US specifically for the group, seemed very excited to join McCartney on stage.
“It was exceptional,” said 25-year-old Sorcha Ingram. “I had the time of my life. I’ve never experienced anything like it. I was obsessed with the Beatles when I was younger, which is where my musical taste stems from. It was the first time I saw it, and it was my first time in Glastonbury. It’s a historic moment, a chance that comes once.” One in a lifetime.”
“He’s a fitting legend,” said Keith Burnett, 59. “He’s actually done a really good job covering his entire career in his time and pace.”
But he faced some criticism for showing a “too ill-advised” clip of Johnny Depp during his headline in Glastonbury.
A clip of Depp appeared on a big screen during My Valentine, a love song written for McCartney’s wife, Nancy Shevel.
One Twitter user wrote: “I am so sad that a man like Paul McCartney chose to give Johnny Depp a platform. Once again, domestic violence survivors are being mocked.”
McCartney and Depp are said to be close friends, and the American actor has appeared in video footage during the 80-year-old’s recent comeback tour in the US.
However, there was no escaping the fact that most attendees would never get the chance to see McCartney perform again – and that made the night even more special.
NME said he threw “everything he’s ever had – which says something to the actual Beatles – at Glastonbury 2022sounds like a guy who honestly knows he might never do it again.”