9:30 p.m. – That’s the unspoken curfew on the school night Hollywood dinner-fundraiser circuit.
For PETA’s big tent that cuts across high-low Hollywood, standing around for 45 minutes until 10:15 p.m. while Paul McCartney’s crew set up a stage inside the Palladium at PETA’s 35th Birthday Bash was the worth the wait.
The long time PETA advocate and headliner delivered the dessert.
After an all-Vegan dinner party for 1,200 and awards show drawing activists as equally passionate as they are dissimilar (see: Joaquin Phoenix, RZA, and Mary Matalin) to the same stage, Sir Paul gave an 80 minute career-spanning set.
From the appropriate opener for the occasion (“Birthday”) to the encore sending the crowd out on to Sunset Blvd., “Golden Slumbers” (the “Carry the Weight a Long Time” song), McCartney avoided another cliché of the charity performance – a 3 song cameo set.
Who does an encore at a private show?
The Beatle who annotated each song with a story, like a 50 year old tale of Jimi Hendrix throwing his guitar out of tune playing “Sgt. Peppers” and then sheepishly asking if “Eric” (Clapton) could come fix it, or a shout-out to individual PETA staff by name, like President and fellow Brit Ingrid Newkirk for “doing all the work”.
Musical highlights included McCartney’s acoustic solo for “Blackbird,” with the 73 year-old shedding his five piece band and using his black-booted heel as the only percussion. Later, he would instruct an audience of seasoned performers like Bill Macy, Rob Zombie, and No Doubt’s Tony Kanal that when I say “Now You!” on “Ob-la-Di, Ob-la-Da”, that’s their cue to sing.
As the set wound down, McCartney got a crowd so closely packed to the stage that people were resting their drinks, purses, and heels on it to sing the “Na-na-na-nas” of “Hey Jude,” even splitting the men and women in the audience for separate solos.
Bounding up to a piano on a riser and back down to the front of the stage mid song, sweating, shedding a jacket, and rolling up sleeves, McCartney worked a lot harder than his “Four Five Seconds” collaborator Kanye West did at the Hollywood Bowl this past weekend.
Speaking of the presidential interrupter, Beck joined McCartney for two songs, “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” and “Drive My Car”. The set did not include “Can’t Buy Me Love,” with good reason: everyone in the room had already heard it.
Earlier on Wednesday, The Beatles donated “Can’t Buy Me Love” to PETA for an animal adoption campaign. The promo video also includes two and four-legged dancers from “America’s Got Talent” (below).
The performance capped a night of awards to longstanding advocates and performers who have used their megaphones to support PETA. Recent victories include pressuring Ringling Brothers’ in to dropping their elephant acts after a hundred years, and the relentless, public truth-shaming of Sea World that rebranded the company as a public pariah.
“Animal rights and animal welfare is my life’s work,” Moby told the crowd. “I like making music…a lot, but working to improve the lives and quality of life for animals is pretty much what I have dedicated my entire life to.” He then went on to write a $50,000 check.
“I’ve always been against fur,” Lopez said. “What is that on the top of (Trump’s) head? I want do dump paint on it.”