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Lollapalooza Day 1: Paul McCartney closes out the night in grand style

Paul McCartney, the legend, can handle anything, including the competing beats of electronic dance music.

McCartney, 73, ran onto stage Friday night with the energy of a far younger man as he closed out day one of Lollapalooza. He toyed with the crowd, who knew every word and sang along.

He brought out the nostalgia, playing “Paperback Writer” with a guitar he used to originally record the song. He made jokes about the blaring electronic dance music coming from the closest stage, where McCartney could see a dramatic light show ahead of the city’s sweeping moonlit skyline.


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“My song will be a mashup of this song, and whatever s*** they’re playing over there,” he said to laughs and cheers. The sound bleed became a problem for the crowd, but McCartney took it with a grain of salt, even playing “Something” on a delicate and quiet ukulele as dance beats continued from afar.

McCartney brought out Alabama Shake’s Brittany Howard for a performance of “Get Back,” — as his set came to a close.

Beatles fans, young and old, danced around the park grounds, grinning ear-to-ear. McCartney’s performance seemed to be one of the most universally liked sets the festival has seen in 11 years.

“This is so cool I’d rather take a moment to drink it in myself,” McCartney told the crowd, before playing hit after hit, including “Maybe I’m Amazed,” I’ve Just Seen A Face,” “Blackbird,” “Let It Be,” and “Hey Jude.”

Earlier, Gary Clark Jr. — who just released a highly anticipated second album — added a much-needed blues element to the festival. The Austin musician played an energetic yet soulful set, his distorted guitar riffs making his performance a unique one. Clark is young and hungry and seems to really enjoy being up on stage. And he’s proof that blues can seep into any type of music, as he blurs the lines of musical genres. His voice, too, is smooth and easy to listen to. With his strong stage presence, Clark can is only getting better at his craft. And perhaps, the big turnout for his set will show Lollapalooza bookers that Chicagoans like their blues.

Howard, Alabama Shake’s frontwoman wowed a large daytime crowd, soaking up rays at the stage where McCartney would soon close out the night. Howard screams. She shrieks. Her vocal range stretches word by word and seems intrinsically linked to the emotional lyrics of her songs. She wore a beautiful long-sleeved dress — and was probably burning up. But she didn’t show it. Instead she showed thousands how strong of a guitarist she is, and how unique of a voice she has. Friday’s performance was a win for the band, who was forced to cancel their performance in 2012 amid a massive downpour that led to the festival’s evacuation.

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