“This is the biggest gig we’ve ever played!” Sir Paul McCartney told the crowd of about 400 people at the beginning of his last-minute show at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Thursday, Oct. 13.
That bit of hyperbole from the former Beatle aside, it was indeed a big day for those who had made it into Pappy’s for the show, which had been announced just hours before. Those hoping to attend were told to arrive with $50, cash only, around 3 p.m. to stand in line for a 6:30 p.m. entrance and an 8:30 p.m. show. I arrived around 2:30 p.m. (as an invited media guest, meaning I knew I would get in, thank goodness) and noticed as we drove up the hill to Pappy’s that the parking lots were closed, and a line already wound all the way into the back of Pioneertown near the Pioneer Bowl.
Around 3:30 p.m., as members of the California Highway Patrol watched, the first 300 people in line were given slips of paper guaranteeing entrance into the show. Those who didn’t get a slip were told to leave: They were out of luck. When the gates finally opened early, around 5 p.m., people immediately came in to grab spots up front—even though they faced yet another wait of more than three hours.
Considering that some of McCartney’s fans who attended his recent show at Amoeba Records in Hollywood had to wait outside for four days, Thursday’s inconveniences were no big deal.
Alas, Pappy and Harriet’s normal food service was cancelled on Thursday, meaning the always-alluring the smell of barbecue on the back patio was missing. However, attendees willing pay $13.95 could enjoy a vegan dinner, complete with a bread roll and coffee.
Shortly before 8:30 p.m., Paul McCartney took the stage—obviously in a much-scaled-down way compared to the shows he’s been performing at Desert Trip and in sold-out stadiums around the world. Not even a grand piano was an option, so he made do with a smaller-sized piano. He started off his 19-song set with “Save Us” from his 2013 album New, and followed with “A Hard Day’s Night.”
His 90-minute included some rarities and some surprising omissions. For example, he didn’t perform “Jet,” a popular song from his days with Wings which was the second song in his first-weekend set at Desert Trip.
Before playing “I’ve Got a Feeling,” he asked those standing in front if they could take a seat, so the people in the back—including me—could have a glance at him. Immediately, a bunch of phones from the back went up, with Paul in the distance on the screens as attendees desperately tried to get a photo of him in front of that Pappy’s stage backdrop.
After “Lady Madonna,” McCartney addressed the back of the crowd again, asking if they were all right. One eager fan toward the front got his attention. “That doesn’t qualify as the back,” McCartney told him, noting lightheartedly that the person obviously didn’t follow directions.
I’ll never forget the sound of the fans fortunate enough to attend filling up Pappy’s with their voices as they sang along on songs like “Band on the Run,” “Ob-La Di, Ob-La Da” and “Hey Jude.” I imagine proud Pappy and Harriet’s owners Robyn Celia and Linda Krantz will remember the moment forever, too.
The encore included some nice surprises: “Hi Hi Hi” was first, followed by “Birthday” and concluding with “I Saw Her Standing There.”
After “I Saw Her Standing There,” it remained dark in Pappy’s for a few minutes as fans hoped he would return and play one or two more songs. After all, “Let It Be” hadn’t been played yet—but then the lights came on, and it was evident the show was over. Nonetheless, people were pleased—after all, they’d just seen Paul McCartney kick ass in a small venue in the desert.
Many local musicians, not surprisingly, were in attendance, including Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, Brant Bjork, David Catching and Robbie Waldman of Waxy. They were somewhat fortunate: A number of local musicians were not there despite their best efforts. Juan Gonzalez of the Kathys told me he did not get a ticket, because, quote, “I fucked up.” He explained that he went hiking around Pioneertown after he showed up, thinking he was too early to get in line.
When I asked Brant Bjork toward the end of the show if he ever thought Paul McCartney would play Pappy and Harriet’s, he smiled.
“No,” he said. “But he should.”
A Hard Day’s Night
Can’t Buy Me Love
Let Me Roll It
I’ve Got a Feeling
We Can Work It Out
I’ve Just Seen a Face
Love Me Do
Ob-La Di, Ob-La Da
Band On The Run
Hi Hi Hi
I Saw Her Standing There
Below: Photos of the atmosphere at Pappy’s, by Guillermo Prieto/Irockphotos.net