NEIL YOUNG Solo – ” Fox Theatre Detroit ” 3rd July 2018

Posted: July 12, 2018 in MUSIC
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On July 3rd, Neil Young live-streamed a solo acoustic show from the Fox Theatre in Detroit that didn’t go completely as planned. Audience members, perhaps fueled by 4th of July celebrations, disrupted the performance, shouting at the 72-year-old singer as he played and spoke from the stage.

Neil Young brought his brief six-date solo acoustic tour to Detroit’s Fox Theatre , choosing the venue in part because of his love for the city and the venue.  He took the stage surrounded by a circle of guitars, a banjo, and a ukulele, and launched into a batch of primarily early ’70s chestnuts on string instruments. Then, atypically, he took a spin playing a number of songs on the three different pianos and pump organ on stage.

The Detroit News reported fans treated the “deeply personal and intimate” concert “like a rollicking Crazy Horse show in an arena or an amphitheater, yelling out for song titles … or just bellowing Young’s name so frequently that it ruined the vibe of the evening.”  Fans, however kept yelling out song titles (“HARVEST MOOOOOOOON!”) or bellowing Young’s name (“NEEEEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLL!”) so frequently that it ruined the vibe of the evening.

The show brings up questions of concert etiquette and what kind of behavior is expected of concert audiences.

When it comes to concert couth, it’s usually younger audiences that are accused of being bad fans. They won’t put their phones away, they’re more concerned with being seen by their peers than living in the moment, etc. But those moments, though they may affect an individual’s participation, rarely disrupt from the overall experience of a concert.

The Neil Young situation was different. Very early in the evening, amid a flurry of song titles being shouted in his direction, Young shot back, “I hope you know I’m not keeping track of those.” That didn’t stop the fans from peppering him with requests. “CINNAMON GIRL!” “ROCKIN’ IN THE FREE WORLD!”

“You can keep shouting them, but I’m never going to play any of them,” Young is reported to have replied.

The incident seemed to rattle the usually impervious Young, who took to his blog on the Neil Young Archives website to discuss what he termed a “rough night.”

“It was the 4th of July holiday and some folks were celebrating, already high when they arrived at the show,” he wrote. “Because it was a holiday, I could see it coming. They were focused on their celebration, kind of like a festival. Any subtle solo performance of songs is very challenged under those conditions.”

It’s apparent that Young believes those in the Detroit audience who came to actually listen got a subpar performance from him. “I could slip deeply into a song if not distracted,” he noted, “but I am just relegated to the surface while fighting off distraction, and so is the rest of the audience. Likewise, I may have told a story that sets up the experience of listening to the song, if I was not interrupted while trying.”

He did, according manage to speak about playing Detroit’s Chess Mate coffeehouse, and writing songs in the White Castle restaurant across the street. He also played Buffalo Springfield’s classic “Broken Arrow” on piano, as well as “After the Goldrush” on pump organ and “I Am a Child” on his Martin D45 guitar — what Young called “some very fine and engaged moments.”

“There were some songs that shone through in spite of the obstacles and I am very happy they did,” Young noted, adding that he hoped to one day return to Detroit to a more receptive, less disruptive audience and give them a more fully engaged performance.

“Every time I got through this type of experience, part of me does not ever want to go through it again,” he wrote, “yet it is a risk taken every time I walk out to a solo stage.”

The Tuesday Young show at the FoxTheatre had been billed as “Neil Young Solo,” and found the 72-year-old to be performing by himself, mostly acoustic, in a deeply personal and intimate setting.

Very simply, it wasn’t that kind of show. The concert was a journey through Young’s career, and he told stories about his early days in Detroit and his memories of performing and recording in the city. But several times he wasn’t able to get through stories because fans were shouting and acting like jackasses. “Just pretend like I just told a story,” he said at one point midway through the concert, because by then he’d been shouted over so often that it was no longer worth trying.

I can’t recall attending another concert where the rowdy, unruly behavior of the crowd affected a show quite like the Neil Young crowd did, quoted local newsman.

It’s not just Neil Young, the same situation when Jackson Browne played Freedom Hill earlier this summer, Is there a generation gap when it comes to concert norms that leads to a feeling of entitlement by concertgoers of a certain age? That they paid their money and they can yell out whatever they want, whenever they want? Or is the bad behavior symptomatic of a larger breakdown of respect for others in today’s America?

To be fair, at Neil Young it was a case of a few ruining it for everyone, which is often the case in many disturbances, be it at a concert or a public gathering of any sort. And those few are either too ignorant, too belligerent or too male to empathize with others or realize the effect they’re having on everyone else. And too often it’s the few who dictate things for the many.

Neil Young knows his name, yelling “NEIL!” or “UNCLE NEIL!” isn’t going to cause any grand epiphany for him. He knows you love him, that’s why you paid to come see the show. And he knows his songs, shouting “MY MY, HEY HEYYY!” isn’t going to remind him that he sings a song called “My My, Hey Hey” and get him to play it for you.

So once that is established, what is the point of continuing to yell out? Is it the thirst for a reply? And is getting some acknowledgment worth ruining the experience for so many concertgoers around you?

Neil Young
2018-07-03
Fox Theatre, Detroit, Michigan, USA
Solo

01. On The Way Home (acoustic guitar)
02. Homefires (acoustic guitar)
03. Only Love Can Break Your Heart (acoustic guitar)
04. Love Is A Rose (acoustic guitar)
05. Cowgirl In The Sand (acoustic guitar)
06. Mellow My Mind (banjo)
07. Ohio (electric guitar)
08. There’s A World (piano)
09. Broken Arrow (piano) [first solo piano version ever – stunning]
10. I Am A Child (acoustic guitar)
11. Are You Ready For The Country? (piano)
12. Tonight’s The Night (piano)
13. Speakin’ Out (piano)
14. After The Gold Rush (pump organ)
15. Angry World (electric guitar)
16. Love And War (acoustic guitar)
17. Peaceful Valley Boulevard (acoustic guitar)
18. Out On The Weekend (acoustic guitar)
19. The Needle And The Damage Done (acoustic guitar)
20. Heart Of Gold (acoustic guitar)

21. Tumbleweed (acoustic guitar)

By attending a concert, like any public gathering, you enter into a social contract. The same way you wouldn’t sit down at a restaurant and scream the chef’s name after biting into the pasta primavera, you shouldn’t shout out things at a concert if it’s not that kind of show. Read the room and act accordingly. At an arena rock concert, all bets are off, the louder you are the better. But if a concert is a quiet acoustic gathering, keep the loud comments to yourself for the sake of those around you.

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