Every once in a while, an evening at a concert turns into a really special experience. On an otherwise quiet night in Philadelphia, that magic was discovered with Neil Young at The Tower Theater. The stage was dimly lit–one large Edison bulb hung over center-stage, with flickering candles scattered in the background. Instruments were lined up in a semi-circle just waiting to be picked–from an old upright piano to several acoustic guitars. As the house lights dimmed, the crowd eagerly awaited the arrival of Mr. Young.
As he slowly walked on stage, the crowd gave a warm welcome. Mr. Young walked amongst the instruments, waiting for one to whisper to him that it was ready to be played. After he selected a guitar, he started the evening with The Last Trip to Tulsa. Now maybe you can hear the way he’s changed over the years, but as the audience sat in complete silence listening to him sing “pulled over to the corner and I fell into a dream,” you’d be hard-pressed to say it wasn’t just as powerful as when he sang it first in 1969.
Mr. Young took a careful stroll among the instruments after each song, deciding which tune to play next. His tour crew occasionally fitting his harmonica holder over his head for songs like Four Strong Winds, or bringing a small acoustic guitar out for Pocahontas. While the crowd remained quiet and in awe for most of the night, uproarious praise rose when an electric guitar was brought out and the opening chords of Ohio were strung. Cast in a single downward spotlight, Mr. Young’s voice belted out across the crowd as he sung “four dead in Ohio.”
As someone who has listed to Neil Young and CSNY since they were too young to understand the meanings of the lyrics, I may be biased in my review. Neil Young represents a generation and a time that is (sadly) not much different than times we face now. He is a pioneer of 60s rock music and undeniably talented. As he sat under that single Edison bulb, no band to back him, just a stage full of instruments and a mind full of lyrics, he mesmerized this listener, and 3,000 other fans. Na na na na na na na...