At 81 years old, we’re just glad that Sir Paul McCartney is still performing in any capacity — much less his epic three-hour arena shows. But his lengthy stints on stage might be partially motivated by those of Bruce Springsteen, who the Beatle blames for setting a new standard in long marathon performances.
The Boss, even at 73, is known for playing shows that can last nearly four hours — a timeframe that would’ve been completely unimaginable in The Beatles’ heyday. Speaking on the Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend podcast, McCartney reminisced on how culture has changed in the ’60s, set times included.
“You were on package bills,” McCartney told O’Brien of his early touring days. “These days, pretty much there’s a main act and there might be a warm-up act. But then, it was a lot of people on the bill because nobody did long [sets]. Now people will do three, four hours. I blame Bruce Springsteen. I’ve told him so. I said, ‘It’s your fault, man!’”
When O’Brien asked if Springsteen had “ruined it for everyone,” McCartney doubled-down. “He did! You can’t now do an hour,” he said. “We used to do a half-hour, that was like The Beatles’ thing. Half an hour, and we got paid for it!”
McCartney went on: “I tried to work out, why was it so short? Well, because there were a lot of people on the bill. I think, if you were a comedian, the promoter would say, ‘How long can you do? Four minutes?’ The guy would say yes, so they would do four, and so we thought, ‘Well, half an hour — that’s epic.’ That was it. A big Beatles show, we were on and off like that. It didn’t seem strange.”
Listen to McCartney’s full interview on Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend below; the quotes above begin around the 18:45 mark.
Of course, those jabs at Springsteen are in jest. Last year before his 80th birthday, Macca brought out the New Jersey legend at his East Rutherford show to duet a couple of tunes as a “birthday present to myself.” McCartney also became the oldest-ever artist to headline Glastonbury last year; this year, however, he seemed to have a great time as a spectator instead.