The Concert I'll Never Forget: HORDE '97
August 20, 2008
We always love to hear a great Neil Young concert story.
So here's a story that we recall from years ago that folks who were there say it was a most incredible memory. Last year, Chicago Tribune's Greg Kot wrote about "The concert I won't forget: The night Neil Young rocked like a hurricane":
Fans who attend rock concerts expect the performers to give their all. But they usually don’t expect them to defy death. So when the editors of the Tribune's Sunday magazine asked me to weigh in on my most surprising moment as a concertgoer, there really was only one choice.
On a muggy midsummer day in 1997, Neil Young and Crazy Horse took the stage at what was then known as the World Music Theatre in Tinley Park. They were part of the H.O.R.D.E. festival on what had so far been a pleasant if hardly transcendent day of music. But as the scruffy quartet took the stage, things got ugly.
A storm was blowing in, a nasty one. A roof covered the stage and part of the audience, but it offered little protection. Lightning creased the sky, thunder crashed, wind howled, and rain whipped sideways through the amphitheater, soaking everyone --- including the band. The Jolly Roger flag on Ralph Molina’s drum kit ripped in the wind, conjuring visions of a sinking galleon. Young and the band plowed ahead anyway, but then the lights, public address system and amplifiers gave out. The concrete aisles sloping toward the stage resembled white-water rapids as rainwater gushed through the pavilion. Panic was in the air. You could feel it, and hundreds of people started to sprint toward the parking lot. I was tempted to join them. I’d never really felt fear at a rock concert before --- until that moment.
It was foregone conclusion that the concert was over. It had to be. Any musician with a lick of sense would’ve been in his dressing room by now drinking a beer and toweling off --- a far better option than death by electrocution.
But Young and the band never stopped.
More of Greg Kot's memories of Neil Young in 1997.