Detroit Audience Gives Neil Young a ‘Rough Night’
On July 3, Neil Young live-streamed a solo acoustic show from the Fox Theatre in Detroit that didn’t go completely as planned. Audience members, perhaps fueled by Fourth of July celebrations, disrupted the performance, shouting at the 72-year-old singer as he played and spoke from the stage.
The Detroit News reported fans treated the “deeply personal and intimate” concert “like a rollicking Crazy Horse show in an arena or an amphitheater, yelling out song titles ... or bellowing Young's name ... so boorishly and so frequently that it ruined the vibe of the evening.”
“You can keep shouting them, but I'm never going to play any of them," Young is reported to have replied.
The incident seemed to rattle the usually impervious Young, who took to his blog on the Neil Young Archives website to discuss what he termed a “rough night.”
“It was the Fourth of July holiday and some folks were celebrating, already high when they arrived at the show,” he wrote. “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.”
You can see video from the performance below.
It’s apparent that Young believes those in the Detroit audience who came to actually listen got a subpar performance from him.
“I could slip deeply into a song if not distracted,” he noted, “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.”
He did, according to US 103.1, manage to speak about playing Detroit’s Chess Mate coffeehouse, and writing songs in the White Castle restaurant across the street. He also played Buffalo Springfield’s classic “Broken Arrow” on piano, as well as “After the Goldrush” on pump organ and “I Am a Child” on his Martin D45 guitar — what Young called “some very fine and engaged moments.”
“There were some songs that shone through in spite of the obstacles and I am very happy they did,” Young noted, adding that he hoped to one day return to Detroit — to a more receptive, less disruptive audience — and give them a more fully engaged performance.
“Every time I got through this type of experience, part of me does not ever want to go through it again,” he wrote, “yet it is a risk taken every time I walk out to a solo stage.”