The nearly sold-out stadium was filled with fans from the young to the original long-haired, bushy bearded Woodstock hippies, cheering and chanting one man’s name that has lasted him throughout his extensive career.
“Neil, Neil Neil.”
Taking a graceful bow with hands pressed together, Young, the folk/country/grunge rock star, began a night of ‘60s and ‘70s hits, the radical in betweens and everything else that has left his signature, simplistic mark on the music industry.
Perhaps it is his undeniable talent or his ability to connect with different generations of listeners – as seen in his opening band, contemporary rockers Death Cab For Cutie and Everest – but Young yet again proved he isn’t going away anytime soon.
Kicking off the set with some favorites like “Old Man,” “Cortez the Killer” and “Cinnamon Girl,” Young had fans singing along before he broke out into arguably some of the best electric and acoustic jam sessions.
Young performed with power as he thrashed his body around, at times often screaming with overwhelming emotion into the microphone.
Joined by his fellow band members, including his wife, Peggi, doing back-up vocals, Young was captivating while on stage, making it hard for people to take their eyes off of the rock legend. At the same time, he was seemingly understated.
His dress was simple: a blazer with paint splattered on it, broken-in jeans with sneakers and, of course, peace symbols on his guitar strap.
Lighting was kept minimal between key colors like the burnt orange, reminiscent of his “Harvest” album cover, and an eerie blue color that worked well for “Hey Hey My My.”
And then there was the guitar strumming.
My boyfriend, who plays lead guitar in his own band and likes to put in his musical two cents, leaned over and commented that Young’s strumming “is like butter.”
And there’s no other way to put it, particularly when Young began “Heart of Gold.” Smooth and fluid, the chords and riffs smothered the crowd, almost giving a feeling of warmth just by listening to it.
Also notable were Young’s stage antics, from his breakout harmonica solos and church organ playing to actually having a man on stage paint on canvasses in the background.
But it was his final songs that said it best.
“Rockin in the Free World,” especially appropriate this close to Election Day, was strong as bright lights shone on the audience during the chorus, encouraging everyone to sing along.
And the encore, a folksy approach to the Beatles’ song “A Day in the Life,” had crowd members dancing and pounding stadium seats, wanting more.
Now in a frenzy, the crowd watched Young gracefully and modestly exit, simply leaving behind on stage one of the paintings of an American flag that said “VOTE” on it.
Cheers to the Canadian on that one and cheers to an unforgettable show.