Paul McCartney and his late band mate John Lennon were reunited at Glastonbury Festival, singing the Beatles hit I’ve Got A Feeling, thanks to the magic of technology.
Sir Paul, who become the oldest solo act to headline at Glastonbury Festival, took to the Pyramid stage 18 years after his last appearance at the Worthy Farm five-day extravaganza.
The former Beatle celebrated his 80th birthday exactly a week ago.
Wearing a Mandarin collar navy jacket – a nod to the band’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band era – he stripped down to a waistcoat part way into the set.
Seemingly unshaven and with his hair looking neat, but long in the back, the Liverpool-born singer cut a relaxed figure and was at ease with the crowd throughout the lively performance.
In a set full of surprises, Sir Paul saved the best until last, telling the heaving crowd he would “play live with John on tour”, thanking The Lord Of The Rings director Peter Jackson who he said had made it technically possible.
Calling it “so special”, he went on: “I know it’s virtual, but there I am singing with John again. We’re back together.”
An emotional Sir Paul sang a duet of I’ve Got A Feeling with Lennon’s remastered vocals, as footage of Lennon was played on the large screens alongside the main stage.
Ahead of an earlier song, Here Today, which Sir Paul described as “in the form of a letter I never got to write to [John]”, he said: “That was a time when you couldn’t say ‘I love you man’, right then when John died. Let’s hear it for John.” His request drew a rapturous and prolonged applause from the audience.
During the ambitious set – which ran to nearly three hours due to encores and multiple special guests – Sir Paul also paid tribute to his two other Beatles bandmates, Ringo Starr and George Harrison.
He referenced the band’s creation, telling the crowd: “These four boys got together and formed a band. And they did quite well.” The understatement was not lost on Beatles fans.
Other surprises for the tens of thousands of fans watching the show included special guest appearances from Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl (one of his first performances since losing band member Tyler Hawkins earlier this year) and Bruce Springsteen.
Calling Grohl “a hero”, Sir Paul said the musician “had said he’d come over, and I didn’t believe him. But he showed up”. He went on to tell Grohl, largely considered to be one of the nicest guys in rock: “I love you”.
Springsteen, or “The Boss”, told Sir Paul: “Thank you for having me”, to which Sir Paul replied, “You’re kidding. Thank you for coming.”
Both men sang two songs with Sir Paul, returning to the stage again for the finale of the show.
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Jimmy Hendrix and Eric Clapton also got a namecheck, as did Sir Paul’s wife, Nancy Shevell, who he said was “here tonight”.
Dedicating song My Valentine to her, a black and white video for the track featuring actress Natalie Portman signing the lyrics played on the large stage screens.
Following Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, the former Beatle attracted an especially large crowd appearing to rival those of The Rolling Stones in 2013 and Adele in 2016.
Welcoming his audience, he said: “Oh man, it’s so good to be here. We were supposed to be here three years ago. I’ve got a feeling we’re going to have a great time here tonight”. He then promised fans “old songs, new songs and inbetweeners”. He certainly delivered.
Sir Paul’s performance marks more than 60 years of music-making, with his set including hits from his time in the Beatles and British-American rock band Wings, as well as some of his best-known solo material.
Opening with Can’t Buy Me Love, he treated fans to other crowd pleasers including Love Me Do, Hey Jude and Let It Be.
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da got crowds jigging round in circles, Lady Madonna inspired plenty of jumping and Bond theme Live And Let Die offered a little 007 drama to the night.
Sir Paul also showed his support for war-torn Ukraine, waving the country’s blue and yellow flag during his encore.
Sir Paul’s timely flag protest is not the only reminder of Ukraine’s plight, amid Vladimir Putin’s war in the country.
Whereas his last Glastonbury gig saw his fans drenched to the skin during torrential showers, festivalgoers on Saturday night enjoyed bright sun and clement temperatures.
He closed the show with Helter Skelter, a Beatles song that has become intrinsically linked to cult leader and killer Charles Manson.
A global star, who has been a household name for nearly 50 years, it’s likely to be the last time Sir Paul will perform to such a large audience.
It’s a likelihood the crowd appeared to sense, lapping up every moment of the performance and begging the star to return for an encore when his set came to an end.
Glastonbury Festival is belatedly celebrating its 50th anniversary after two enforced fallow years due to the pandemic.
Gen-Z poster girl Billie Eilish took to the Pyramid Stage on Friday night becoming the festival’s youngest ever headliner, and American rapper Kendrick Lamar will close the festival on Sunday.
Environmental activist Greta Thunberg also made a surprise appearance on the Pyramid Stage on Saturday to give a speech about climate change.
Diana Ross will fill the Sunday Teatime Legends slot, following in the footsteps of Kylie, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie and Shirley Bassey.