Last week's solo Neil Young concert at The Fox Theatre in Detroit was live streamed for Neil fans around the world. Among the highlights was the rarely played Buffalo Springfield song “Broken Arrow” on grand piano and shared stories about playing at The Chess Mate on Livernois and writing songs in The White Castle across the street and hanging out with Chuck and Joni Mitchell when they lived on the Wayne State University campus.
The intimate "Neil Young Solo" didn't go as planned when rowdy fans disrupted the performance by yelling throughout the show. “I hope you know I’m not keeping track of those" Young told those in the crowd who yelled song titles at him according to The Detroit News. "You can keep shouting them, but I’m never going to play any of them."
Young addressed the concert in a blog post on his Archives website titling the post "Rough Night" and saying he came away from Detroit "a bit mentally bruised and battered:"
“Because the St. Louis and Chicago crowds were all real listeners, the type of crowd I have come to love with the NYA shows, (shows where all tickets were bought through NYA and there was no advertising), those three shows were free and easy and I had the unbridled ability to lose myself in any song when the moment came.
In Detroit, we had something going against that. It was the fourth of July holiday and some folks were celebrating, already high when they arrived at the show. 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. Of course, if I had a band, I could just blast out the show and rock on. So I came away from Detroit a bit mentally bruised and battered, yet still happy that so many people enjoyed the performance that I had tried to give them, even though they were somewhat short changed by circumstance.
The St. Louis and Chicago crowds were distinctly different from the commercial shows I have been doing for the past years. At those commercial public shows. I have come to expect that people are as interested in celebrating their connection to the music as they are in actually listening. These are the people who yell out titles as loud as they can, during, or in between songs, or while I am talking, trying to tell a story about the music and where it came from or what it meant to me at one time or another.
On night’s like last night in Detroit, It seems that the yellers are not with me. They are interested in celebrating their love of the music in another way. There is nothing wrong with that for them. They are having the time of their lives out there. Unfortunately for the audience, everyone else misses out on what might have happened while I am distracted by those celebrating their favorite song titles, yelling them as loud as they can.
I could slip deeply into a song if not distracted, 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.
In St. Louis and the two shows in Chicago, I had the time of my life! It was so great to be able to lose myself in the music, sharing my experience with the audience, telling the stories of the songs to set them up, both for me and for the audience.
There were some songs that shone through in spite of the obstacles and I am very happy they did. The Detroit audience got everything I had to give that I could get through to them. That said, I hope to return to Detroit someday and give them what I was able to give St. Louis and Chicago. Every time I got through this type of experience, part of me does not ever want to go through it again, yet it is a risk taken every time I walk out to a solo stage.
Detroit was an NYA live stream so we may show it again for member subscribers in the Hearse theater. Like all of our Live-Streams it could return in the future. There were some very fine and engaged moments. ‘After The Goldrush’ on pump organ, ‘Angry World’ on the White Falcon, ‘Broken Arrow’ on the Burnt Grand, ‘I Am a Child’ on the Martin D45.
Big thanks to the crowd. I always appreciate you.”