Neil Young Keeps It Rockin’ In the Free World At Arroyo Seco Weekend Review+Photos: Neil Young @ Arroyo Seco Weekend 6/23/18
“… At 72 years young, Neil Young can still shred with the best of them. Backed by Lukas Nelson’s Promise of the Real, Neil kept it loose and casual. He opened his set with an extended version of the seldom played “Like an Inca”, and after a false start to the following song due to a guitar not being tuned properly, Neil announced he was free wheeling his performance because he didn’t have a setlist. He joked that he could only imagine the kind of reviews he would be getting, but assured his devoted fans that they didn’t have anything to worry about because, “We know a lot of songs”. In Neil we trust. After all, he is rock royalty.
After diving back into the set with “Fuckin’ Up” and “Cortez the Killer”, he let the each of the Nelson brothers, Lukas and Micah, shine for a bit with their own performances of “(Forget About) Georgia” and “Everything is Bullshit” respectively. Each of the brothers embody the same spirit as their father, Willie, and their performances surely earned them some new fans on this night.
Then there was an awkward moment.
Prior to his performance of “I Am A Child”, Neil announced that the performance was dedicated to “the kids out there.” His anxious fans started to immediately cheer loudly … before he could finish his sentence with, “the kids in cages”. The crowd immediately hushed. It was one of the few political moments that I actually witnessed during the weekend, but it was a powerful statement. Despite the moment of “awkward”, it was a lovely cover of Buffalo Springfield song, and made clear where Neil’s head and heart lay.
Other obvious highlights from Neil’s set were the performance of his staples; a seven minute jam of “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)”, following which, Neil addressed the crowd as he tuned his guitar for “Angry World” raising the setlist issue with, “We just didn’t do a list… cause it’s a list, that’s why”. Laughter from the stage and the audience ensued.
Neil concluded his set with”Powderfinger” before coming back onto the stage for an encore at 11:16. His entire set exceeded 2 hours, proving that age is nothing but a number with Neil. This legend of Rock & Roll was in fine form, and only seemed to get stronger through the night, perhaps invigorated by the young players at his side, or the free wheeling spirit the permeated the air. Whatever it was, Neil Young rocks like a crazy horse, and he capped off the music on Day 1 of Arroyo Seco Weekend as only a legend could …”