Fox Theatre, Detroit, MI, USA – July 3, 2018
Disc 1 (62:17) On The Way Home, Homefires, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Love Is A Rose, Cowgirl In The Sand, Mellow My Mind, Ohio, There’s A World, Broken Arrow, I Am A Child, Are You Ready For The Country?, Tonight’s The Night, Speakin’ Out
Disc 2 (56:07) After The Gold Rush, Angry World, Love And War, Peaceful Valley Boulevard, Out On The Weekend, The Needle And The Damage Done, Heart Of Gold, Tumbleweed. Bonus Tracks: Boch Center – Wang Theatre, Boston, MA – July 12, 2018: Long May You Run, My My Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue), Already One, Horseshoe Man
Neil Young played a short six date solo acoustic tour in the summer of 2018 dubbed “Solo” playing two nights each in Boston and Chicago and singular shows in St Louis and Detroit. Young had recently completed a West Coast with Crazy Horse that was quite successful musically and the solo dates would fit nicely between that tour and Farm Aid, the yearly benefit show he hosts with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp. This new release from the Golden Eggs label features Young’s stop in Detroit on the solo tour, Neil had this to say about his stop in the Motor City “At the beautiful FOX Theater, lovingly restored by my friend, Dick Kughn and his friends who love Detroit so much, The Motor City, where I first recorded with the Mynah Birds on Motown in 1965, where I appeared in a Hootenanny at the Chessmater Club on Livernois and wrote songs in the White Castle across the street; where I played Masonic Hall with CSNY’s first tour, and where I have so many great friends at Ford.”
Anyone who has seen a Neil Young acoustic show knows the set up, Neil with a few guitars and a piano, playing whatever he wants and telling stories as he sees fit. Taken from a soundboard recording, the sound is excellent with wonderful clarity and timbre. One would gather from Neil’s heartfelt post about playing Detroit that it would be an intimate and wonderful performance, well it starts that way. A review of the concert in The Detroit News, concert reviewer Adam Graham paints a picture of an unruly audience full of shouts during songs sometimes breaking Young’s concentration, the review goes on to question concert etiquette, once you hear this concert you will question it also, search it as it’s a good read.
Neil seems prepped to play music and tell of his experience in Detroit, it gets off to a good start with On The Way Home and a couple more. After he plays Love Is A Rose he starts to tell of his early days in Detroit and some loudmouth starts shouting, Neil responds with “I had something to say but I think I’ll forget it for now”, you can hear his annoyance as he speaks. What is great about Young is his ability to take a raw song like Cowgirl In The Sand, a song that in its original form is full of distorted leads and improvised jams, and turn it into a simple acoustic song that doesn’t lose its intensity. Neil does get some good remembrances in, just before Mellow My Mind he talks of playing the hootenanny and meeting Berry Gordy and his recollections of Ohio are simply moving. I have heard the story before during an interview with Graham Nash on the Howard Stern Show, of how Neil went into the woods after seeing the picture of “the girl Allison with her friend lying dead on the ground”. This version has Neil playing electric guitar, it’s raw and cuts to the bone.
Neil gets into some Buffalo Springfield with Broken Arrow and I Am A Child, between, Young again has to firmly tell the crowd “You can keep shouting them, but I’m never going to play any of them” completely ruining his thoughts. It gets even nastier when he asks “Who’s the loudest guy in here?” and ends with “that’s respect” and you can hear his contempt for the idiots close to the stage. Neil does not shut down and briefly speaks of Bruce Berry, his old roadie who died of a drug overdose and was immortalized on the song Tonight’s The Night, “Bruce Berry was a workin’ man he used to load that Econoline van”, Neil plays for himself at this point, the song played on piano most wonderfully.
Simply incredible version of After The Goldrush opens the second disc, Neil plays an organ and harmonica, when he gets to “There was a band playing in my head” he brilliantly weaves a Carnival monkey grinder sounding snippet in. The corrosive Angry World follows and seems to really sum up the evenings events. By this point Neil pretty much keeps the stories to a bare minimum, surprisingly he gives a “thank you Detroit” after The Needle And The Damage Done, a consummate performer Neil has faced nights like this before and instead of needlessly retaliating he simply bunkers down and plays for himself and strangely the entire performance is quite strong and powerful. He plays Tumbleweed to end the concert, just Neil and a ukulele, the crowd is so quiet you could hear a pin drop.
There is some bonus material to round off the disc taken from the second date in Boston and the last date of the short tour. The recording is an excellent audience source, just a tad distant but very clear and atmospheric, the audience is loud but well behaved. The songs chosen were all only played at this concert, the Stills Young classic Long May You Run seems more poignant now than in 1976. The crowd quietly sings along to My My, Hey Hey adding to the very intimate atmosphere, no hostility here. Horseshoe Man is the final song on the set, the line “He’s the one we all can count on when we’re lost and don’t know where love is” seems to sum up his devotion of his fans.
The packaging is a tri gatefold sleeve, the front cover is the promo pic for the tour and the rest are live shots from the tour as well as a shot of the marquee of the Fox. There are liner notes I found quite scathing in its description of the “liquored up ticket wielder”, something I wholeheartedly agree with. I attend many concerts in a years span and have had my share of these “fans”. I have listened to this title on a few Sunday mornings and soon figured how can this title not be reviewed? The last line of the notes sums it up “Despite the disparity of the night, you’ll still hear some golden choices, some beautiful works and a damn fine show. Listen Up.”