Photos By: Summer Luu
By: Amanda Martinek
We may have missed the Democratic Debate, but things still got plenty political during Neil Young’s Tuesday night performance at RIMAC Arena. The sold-out crowd started to file in around 7 PM, filling out the arena seating and GA pit section, as opener Jenny Lewis took stage.
Decked in a white pant suit with light pastel blue clouds and matching dreamy pastel rainbow acoustic guitar, an aesthetic that supports her 2014 album The Voyager, Jenny belted out hits off her three solo albums. With the voice of an angel who grew up in the country, Jenny’s charm immediately won everybody over.
The crowd, mostly consisting of your grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and any other older adult you know, started to get uncomfortably close and equally annoyed at the closeness, as anticipation grew for Neil to take stage. Two fake-farmer females wandered around the stage watering fake plants and throwing seeds to the crowd.
Neil finally appeared and launched straight into 1970’s classics like “After the Gold Rush”, “Heart of Gold”, “Old Man” and “Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)”, solo in the spotlight with only a harmonica and acoustic guitar. He sounded timeless, transporting old fans back to their youth days and giving a new generation of fans the ability to imagine what it was like.
Then the new took over, as Young’s latest backing band Promise Of The Real, including Willie Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah, joined Neil on stage and turned the dial up, providing backing vocals and electric guitar. Lukas played piano and sang his father’s “September Song” and the crowd raved about how much he sounded just like his dad.
The nearly three-hour marathon set mixed in tracks from the Harvest and Crazy Horse years with new songs off his politically-charged, anti-GMO protest album The Monsanto Years, including “People Want To Hear About Love” and “A Rock Star Bucks a Coffee Shop” which smack talks Starbucks. Seeing ol’ Neil passionate and pissed off was a highlight of the night, telling the audience he hopes to offend as least some people.
With the world slowly going to shit and rock and roll along with it, Neil Young is a beacon of hope for the true counter culture, protest spirit of rock and roll we once knew. Although he’s turning 70 next month, he’s as lively and spirited as ever and isn’t going down without a fight.