It is being hailed as the greatest concert ever, a superstar-studded bill of ultimate rock legends, including Sir Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the Who, Neil Young and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters.

The event, revealed by the LA Times last week, is to be in California in October and is being described as a "mega festival". Organised by the people behind US festival Coachella, it is drawing comparison to Woodstock, the near-mythic 60s gathering that established the idea of the rock festival as a cultural event more than mere entertainment, a gathering of the talents of the day with the biggest audiences ever seen in a celebration of music and brotherly love.

But there is one big difference. Woodstock celebrated the first incredible creative flourish of rock culture; this line-up bookends the end of the rock era.

When the Who played Woodstock in 1969, guitarist Pete Townshend was 23 years old and singer Roger Daltrey 25. Now every artist on this bill is in their 70s. These are not the vanguard of popular culture but road-tested veterans, still touring with sets reliant on hits of yesteryear.


The Rolling Stones haven't released an original album in 10 years and haven't substantially changed their set list in 40.

The Who have a reputation as a wildly unpredictable and improvisational rock quartet, but these days they tour as an eight-piece ensemble offering classic hits. Bob Dylan performs swing and jazz covers made famous by Frank Sinatra.

These are some of the most important rock stars of the last 50 years, who have had some of the greatest recordings and performances ever. And they have never all appeared together.

For older fans, it will seem like a coming together of the gods. For younger fans (under 70) it will be a chance to witness the originators of modern pop culture before they shuffle off the stage. But what does it say about modern music and culture?

Woodstock was also a protest against war, capitalism and convention. A symbol of the 60s ethos of "peace and love". So many people turned up they let them in for free. The 400,000-strong crowd was known for drugs, nudity and fierce idealism.

The festival was also a muddy shambles. Many of the acts were the worse for wear for drugs and alcohol.

This year's mega festival will feature no such amateurism - and is very unlikely to be free.

- The Sunday Telegraph