11 Acts We’d Like to See at Desert Trip II – From U2 to David Gilmour and The Kinks
It’s been over five years since the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Roger Waters, and the Who came together on the Coachella grounds in Indio, California for one of the most gargantuan classic rock events in history. The official name was Desert Trip, but many fans simply called it Oldchella or Boomerstock. They staged the event across two weekends and grossed an astounding $160 million (though you had to basically mortgage your home to afford the tickets).
Rumors of a follow-up event have been circulating for years, but a new report on Hits Daily Double says it may finally be happening, and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band may be a part of it. “The organizers of classic-rock fest Desert Trip — led by Paul Tollett, who is also wheeling and dealing for the Coachella lineup — are said to be working hard to secure Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, but that booking appears shaky at best,” they say. “The rest of the bill, insiders say, looks like a home run.”
A Led Zeppelin reunion — or even a Page and Plant reunion — is indeed a “shaky” proposition considering Plant has said roughly 10,000 times that he’ll never agree to such a thing. But the “home run” of the rest of the bill has us intrigued. (Some caveats are necessary here. We have no idea if another Desert Trip is actually happening. Omicron and the next 20 variants might shut down all concerts until 2040. A fleet of alien ships might vaporize the planet tomorrow. The future is unwritten.)
All that aside, here are 11 acts we hope were in discussion for Desert Trip II, along with reasons they might or might not do it. (Note: We skipped Nineties acts like Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Radiohead, and Phish because they felt too young for this event. Maybe in ten years at Desert Trip III.)
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
The original Desert Trip focused exclusively on acts that made their initial cultural impact in the Sixties. If a follow-up show centered on groups that came later, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band is an obvious pick. They haven’t toured in five years, and they’d move an absurd number of tickets.
Why They Will: They are the only group mentioned in the Hits Daily Double report about the show. They’re also supposedly gearing up for concerts in the near future, presuming Omicron makes that possible. They seem like a very safe bet.
Why They Won’t: The E Street Band always hits a couple of festivals when they tour Europe, but they mostly play their own shows in America. The next tour will likely be heavy on stadiums, and these will be such massive events they may have little need for Desert Trip.
Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Neil Young played the original Desert Trip in 2016 with Promise of the Real. They absolutely crushed it. If you need evidence, check out the “Cowgirl in the Sand” sequence from Young’s Netflix movie Paradox. It was more than enough to earn him a second invitation.
Why They Will: Organizers may not want to repeat anything they did in 2016, which is why we aren’t listing the Rolling Stones or the Who here, but the presence of Crazy Horse means this would be different enough to make it justifiable. Young has said he plans on taking the Horse out of the barn the second the pandemic ends, and this would be an obvious stop on their tour. If Springsteen plays as well, Nils Lofgren will have a very busy weekend.
Why They Won’t: Young has been very, very reluctant to book any shows while Covid remains a problem. He may not want to sign a contract until he’s 100% sure the show won’t be a superspreader event. If it happens at any point in 2022, giving him that peace of mind may not be possible.
A Paul McCartney/Ringo Starr Double Bill
The first Desert Trip featured two acts every night, with Paul McCartney playing after Young. To make this one special, they could book Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band as Paul’s opener. It would make a reunion of the two surviving Beatles an inevitability, even if nobody would know exactly what form that would take until show night. (Spare us your fantasies about Dhani Harrison and Julian Lennon coming out for a Beatles set. Let’s stay in the realm of the feasible.)
Why They Will: Paul and Ringo have played together many times over the past few years. They remain tight, and Ringo already has shows on the books for the summer. He’s never opened for Paul, but this seems like the perfect chance to finally make that happen.
Why They Won’t: They’ve spent the past five decades ruling out any sort of Beatles reunion. A double bill like this might just rub them the wrong way.
A Billy Joel/Elton John Reunion
A set by Billy Joel or Elton John alone wouldn’t seem that momentous since they’ve both toured so heavily over the past decade. But it’s been 12 years since their last Face to Face show. If they bring back the Billy and Elton mashup concert, it would be worthy of a Desert Trip slot.
Why They Will: They had a nasty falling out after their last tour. In the years that followed, they exchanged some sharp barbs in the press, but that was a long time ago. Elton is in the middle of a farewell tour, and this might be their last chance to put the past behind them and end their partnership on a high note.
Why They Won’t: The last time we spoke to Joel about this, he said that John had yet to reach out and offer an olive branch. Until they fix their relationship, they probably aren’t playing any shows together.
Fleetwood Mac With Lindsey Buckingham
Desert Trip was such a huge success that Irving Azoff basically copied the idea the following summer by booking his biggest acts at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Citi Field in New York City. The latter event was the last full set that Lindsey Buckingham played with Fleetwood Mac before their split. A Fleetwood Mac performance with Mike Campbell and Neil Finn at Desert Trip II might feel underwhelming, but it would be a huge event if it marked the return of Buckingham.
Why They Will: Buckingham has made peace with every member of the band besides Stevie Nicks. The former couple has gotten past many feuds in the past, and the payday for a farewell tour with the complete Rumours lineup might be too big to resist. There would be no better place to launch it than Desert Trip.
Why They Won’t: Buckingham said some nasty things about Nicks when promoting his solo album last year. He even compared her to Donald Trump. There may not be enough money in the world for her to get over that.
The best way to get classic rock fans psyched for another Desert Trip would be to reunite a big band. And since Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin are lost causes at this point, they’d be smart to consider the Kinks. They’ve been teasing the possibility of a reunion for the past decade.
Why They Will: Ray and Dave Davies have spent a lot of time together over the past few years. Much of it has been spent combing through their vault for reissue projects, but they’ve also said live shows have been discussed. If it’s ever going to happen, this is the place.
Why They Won’t: Despite all the talk, nothing ever seems to happen in Kinks world. Ray Davies hasn’t even gone on a solo tour in 2015. It’s possible they’ve just waited too long and grown too old.
Phil Collins may not be in great physical shape, but their Last Domino? reunion tour packed houses everywhere it went in late 2021. The North American run didn’t go any further west than Chicago. If they want to satisfy all their West Coast fans with a single show, they won’t have a better chance than this.
Why They Will: The group is already in tour mode, and they have European dates on the books for March. Flying across the Atlantic for one last American gig wouldn’t be a big lift, and it would certainly be worth the effort financially.
Why They Won’t: Collins has said the band will likely fold following their March 26th show in London. If he truly means that, Desert Trip will not be possible. (We’re aware they could bring back Peter Gabriel, but that’s incredibly unlikely as he’s as reunion-phobic as Plant, David Gilmour, David Byrne, and Morrissey.)
U2 wrapped up the last leg of their 2019 Joshua Tree tour just before the pandemic shut down the global concert industry. They’ve spent the downtime quietly working on a new record, but they’ve hinted that a 30th anniversary Zoo TV tour may be coming. Imagine a complete performance of Achtung Baby at Desert Trip II. It would be incredible.
Why They Will: The Joshua Tree tour proved that U2 aren’t allergic to nostalgia when presented in the right way. And even if they just do a typical U2 show, they remain one of the most popular touring acts on the planet. If they are indeed playing shows next year, Desert Trip would be an obvious stop for them.
Why They Won’t: The whole Zoo TV 30 thing may not happen, and there’s no indication that their next album is even close to ready. If they don’t want to play shows until that’s done, we could be talking about 2023 for the tour. They are not a band that plays one-offs, so they simply might not be ready in time.
Wonder doesn’t play a lot of live shows these days, which means that every one of them is a major event. He did a Songs in the Key of Life tour in 2014 and 2015 that was sensational. Notwithstanding a semi-annual benefit show in L.A., things have been pretty quiet since, but a hits-packed set at Desert Trip could be amazing. If he’s willing, they’d be crazy not to book him.
Why He Will: For big occasions, Wonder is willing to put his band together and play a long set of classics. He did a handful of gigs in the summer of 2019, and he’d have no logical reason to turn down Desert Trip and their dollars.
Why He Won’t: We can’t think of a single good reason.
The last Desert Trip brought in Roger Waters to fly the Pink Floyd flag. This time around, why not bring in Gilmour to do the same thing? He tours a lot less than Waters, so it would feel like an even more noteworthy event.
Why He Will: It’s the perfect chance to prove he’s every bit as great in concert as Roger Waters.
Why He Won’t: He’s not in tour mode and simply doesn’t play one-offs. He also just sold off his guitar collection. He may never do another concert again, let alone something as big as this.
Simon & Garfunkel
Simon & Garfunkel haven’t played a show together since Jazz Fest in 2010 when vocal problems caused poor Art to have a very difficult night. Their relationship is in a bad place now, and they aren’t really on speaking terms, but their appearance on a Desert Trip bill would go a long way towards making the event feel just as big as the first one.
Why They Will: They both turned 80 in recent months. Might they finally be willing to put the bullshit aside, get back onstage, and make a boatload of money while they still can? Don’t they want to end their nearly seven-decade partnership on a high note?
Why They Won’t: The answer to both those questions is probably an empathic “no.”