Neil Young in HalifaxI was getting ready for school one morning when my father said that mycousin Jennifer was on the phone and she wanted to know if I wanted a ticket tothe Neil Young concert coming up in Halifax. I said I did and I kind of forgotabout it. It was Halloween night and I was listening to an old Crosby, Stills,Nash and Young album when I looked at the release date when I realized that in amere five days I was going to witness a legend in his finest form. Some say the Neil Young is playing the finest guitar of his life these days.
Some people say that he’s just an old man who can’t sing, never could sing andshould have retired a long time ago. I on the other hand see him differently. He is man who doesn’t care about his appearance, doesn’t care about whatother people think about him. He is an entertainer.
He is a healer. He is aCanadian. He is a man. When I picture myself at fifty I picture myself likehim.
We left for the concert on Tuesday morning and we arrived in the city atabout noon. My uncle drove me and my cousin Edward up. We bummed around thecity for a while and then we went to Jen’s place where we were staying. Therewere a few other people from Inverness staying there as well. My uncle, Edward and I left for the concert at around quarter to seven. Wekind of got lost.
We got to the show at around seven thirty. While we were inline waiting to get in I could here the band that was performing. It was thenthat I realized what I was about to experience. I stumbled to my seat, halflooking a my feet, half looking at the band on stage.
I can’t remember theirname but they were good. As soon as we sat down the band ended their set andthe lights came on. Then we just sat their for a while and I saw a lot ofpeople that I knew from Mabou. The lights went out and the place started to rumble with excitement. Moist came out on stage and started playing their set.
When the band started toplay Push I ran down to the front along with just about everyone else. But wewere pushed back by the security. So we just sat in our seats for the rest oftheir set. The lights came back on and their were a bunch of guys on stage who weremessing with stuff. One guy had on a big white jump suit and everyone thoughthe was Neil Young so when he would appear on the stage everyone would start toscream.
Neil Young did come out on the stage once to tune his guitar. He juststood there and looked out at us all. He played a few things and he handed hisguitar to the man in the white jump suit. He left the stage and didn’t returnfor about a half hour. I was talking to Brandon McNeil when the lights went out again.
Neilstarted his set with a real hard rocker which just sent everyone into a frenzy. Everyone was standing on their seats which meant that if you wanted to seeanything you had to as well. They jammed for what seemed like hours. Neil would be leaning forward just beating the tar out of that old guitar. It’s same guitar he’s used for over 28 years. It’s the same guitar he played atWoodstock.
It’s all black except for the back of the neck where his hand hasrubbed off all the paint so it’s just the color of the wood. His stage presence is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. He’s not themost gracious person I’ve ever seen but he’s got a real quality to him. A truequality. He would just rock back and forth and crunch up his face and let hisguitar sing. At one point, Neil Young, the bass player and the other guitarplayer were huddled around in a circle and they were all rocking back and forth.
It looked as though they were going to butt heads. It reminded me of a tribaldance of some sort. The concert mesmerized me. I paid no attention to the idiots in frontof me smoking pot or the guy who kept falling off his chair a few seat down. For the entire time I was in a world of my own.
Just me and Neil. He didn’t talk much. At one point he said into the mic “How ya doin’?”But that was pretty much it. He played a lot of songs of his latest album which I didn’t know. But heplayed a lot of old songs too like “needle and the damage done” and “heart ofgold” which were crowd pleasers.
But when he played “rocking in the free world”I ran down to the front of the stage. I was about four feet away from NeilYoung and this giant hand grabbed me from behind. That giant hand was attachedto a giant security guard which asked me for my ticket so he could escort meback to my seat. And since I gave my ticket to someone so they could get on tothe floor I didn’t have any ticket to show him.
I said that my mom was holdingon to my ticket and I ran from him before he decided whether he believed mystory or not. When Neil was done with “rocking in the free world” they just went bananasfor about two minutes. They would build up all this musical tension and thenrelease it and build up this tension again that was just asking to be resolved. I just kept getting louder and louder and louder and Neil Young sang the chorusto “rocking in the free world” one more time by himself and he addressed thecrowd saying “Thank you and good luck”. Which seemed to sum it up pretty well. He left the stage but everyone knew he would be back again so we all juststood there and screamed at the empty stage.
He came on again and played foranother twenty minutes or so. The encore wasn’t anything I knew but it wasstill good. By this time I realized I was very tired and my feet hurt. But what I leftthe concert with wasn’t pain or tiredness. .
. it was inspiration. I went to see aman who was doing what I hope to do myself some day. He showed me that I can. That night while I laid in bed I kept thinking of what he had said, “Thankyou and good luck”.
It made so much sense then. He was thanking us because ifwe weren’t there he wouldn’t be where he is right now. He was wishing us luckon our own journeys whether they be in music or business or engineering. This concert was one which I will remember for the rest of my life. I’mgoing to look back at this as a millstone in my own musical career. The day Irealized what truth really is and how I can achieve it.