Sunday, June 24 , 2018, 2:07 am | Overcast 64º


Paul Mann: Day 2 of Desert Trip Makes Musical History

Paul McCartney, left, and Neil Young collaborate on stage during the second day of the Desert Trip music festival. Click to view larger
Paul McCartney, left, and Neil Young collaborate on stage during the second day of the Desert Trip music festival. (L. Paul Mann / Noozhawk photo)

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The second day of the massive Desert Trip concert seemed to bring in an even larger crowd than the opening day.

The crowds were most noticeable in the traffic jams leading toward the venue and a much larger gathering in the general admission area in the back. The traffic jam was caused partially by major road closures as a route was prepared to move the coffins of two slain police officers killed during a shootout the day before in Palm Springs. The event cast a somber mood over music fans as they made their way to the venue. But none of the musicians mentioned the event in their performances.

The evening began with a set by Neil Young and his awesome new band, Promise of the Real. The band features Lukas Nelson on vocals and guitar, Anthony LoGerfo on drums, Corey McCormick on bass and Tato Melgar on percussion. Lukas is the son of Willie Nelson. When playing with Young, the band also features the brother of Lukas, Micah, also on guitar.

Although Young played many of his most classic songs, the set seemed like the most relevant because of the young band and the music they made together on Young's newest album, The Monsanto Years.

The concert was a shorter version of Young’s recent tour, which has featured marathon sets approaching three hours or more. The opening set at Desert Trip was scaled back to about an hour and 45 minutes, but the band made the most of it, cutting the banter short and getting right to the music.

Young made several references to his new anti-corporate message from the new album and to “preserve Mother Earth.” The new music was mixed with Young classics, many from his Harvest album, including "Heart of Gold." The band played several intense guitar jams, including the signature jam on the current tour, "Down By the River."

Probably the most anticipated set of the Desert Trip concert was that of Sir Paul McCartney. The knighted Beatle made a triumphant return to the Coachella desert, where he pretty much launched his modern-day tour back in 2009 and has continued ever since. It was there he debuted his massive unique vertical video screen video show. The massive 260-foot back video screen was actually augmented with even more video panels to create this unique video array once again at Desert Trip.

The set back in 2009, although two songs shorter, actually lasted longer, stretching to more than three hours, breaking a city curfew and incurring a massive fine. The 36-song set (39 if you separate the final medley) at Desert Trip was a real crowd-pleaser. It is amazing that the 74-year-old former Beatle can still sing and play a 2½-hour set, especially after doing it nearly nonstop for the past six years

His band was nearly perfect as usual, and McCartney also as usual played bass guitar, piano, organ acoustic guitar and ukulele. In one particularly endearing moment, McCartney stopped a song shortly after beginning because his ukulele was out of tune. “At least you know we are live,” he quipped before a roady brought him another ukulele that was in tune. How many ukuleles are in McCartney’s travel case, one wonders.

In the most unique and interesting moment of the concert, McCartney brought out Young for the only collaboration of the entire weekend. Young helped out on The Beatles’ "A Day in the Life," the chorus to John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band anthem "Give Peace a Chance" and the McCartney first performance of  “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?” in recent times. Why this amazing collaborative performance was not repeated on any of the other days is a mystery, but for this night musical history was made.

— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributing writer. The opinions expressed are his own.

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