Both acts delivered sets weighing in more than two hours, with the Who peeling off a 22-song performance that started with “I Can’t Explain” and concluded with “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Waters, meanwhile, played nearly 30 songs in all, leaning heavy on Pink Floyd classics during a set that started with “Speak to Me” and concluded with “Comfortably Numb.”
According to promoter data reported by the Los Angeles Times, the average age of a Desert Trip ticket buyer was 51, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t younger listeners in the audience — something appreciatively noted by the Who’s Pete Townshend, quoted by the Associated Press as telling the less seasoned in the crowd “We love you for coming to see us” while dedicating the set’s performance of “The Kids Are Alright” to them.
Looking back on the band’s American breakthrough with “I Can See for Miles,” Townshend laughingly referred to it as “such a long [expletive] time ago” and added that he and singer Roger Daltrey were “so glad to be out here at our age.”
Waters ended the evening with a heavily political performance that found him using his songs as a pulpit for commentary on a number of current events, including the 2016 presidential election and Israel’s occupation in Palestine. Telling the audience that “It’s rare somebody like me gets a platform like this, so I’m going to use it,” Waters employed video footage of Republican candidate Donald Trump during “Pigs” and read a pro-Palestinian poem toward the end of his set. Dedicating the night’s performance of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” to global citizens affected by war and violence, Waters welcomed a guest appearance from a veteran who sat in on lead guitar, explaining, “Working with these men has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life.”
With these first shows on the books, Desert Trip’s performers have a few days to recuperate before gearing up for the next round. The lineup will reconvene for a second and final weekend from Oct. 14-16.
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