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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Concert I Won't Forget: The Night Neil Young Rocked Like a Hurricane

Neil Young & Crazy Horse
"Don't Spook The Horse"

From The concert I won't forget: The night Neil Young rocked like a hurricane by Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot:
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.

See conclusion of Turn It Up: The concert I won't forget: The night Neil Young rocked like a hurricane.

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At 7/24/2012 09:13:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was at this show! It was awesome! We stood on our seats to get out of the rush of water headed towards the front of the theater. The stage banners blew down,lightning was all around, the power went out, but Neil and Crazy Horse kept playing and we all sang along as loud as we could to beat the storm!We were soaked when we left and our tents were flat and full of water, (and the port-a-john at the campsite had been blown over), but I would do it again in a heartbeat! So cool!

At 7/24/2012 09:25:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such a good show it should be posted here twice.

At 7/24/2012 10:11:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

Thanks Anon. We forgot that we had already run this a few years ago. Still a good read.

Here are a few comments left on the earlier post worth re-reading also.

At 8/19/2009 10:06:00 AM, Blogger Joe said...

I was there as well. Some memories:

Remember how Neil runs his own gear off generators, saying how he can hear the difference in power at different venues? That's what saved the night - the roadies turned the band's monitors on the crowd and cranked them. (At least that's my memory of it.)

When the band dove into "Like A Hurricane" for the first time in a long time on the tour ... and when the thunderclap came at the exact perfect time on the first refrain ... the place went nuts. The show from then was just magic. (Have I mentioned I'm still looking for the show on CD to replace my old tapes?)

Yep, the venue flooded just like Greg mentioned. Thanks to the Rust Row I was in the first ten rows, so I was able to just stand on my seat... but the parking lots were flooded after the show as well.

Elliot Roberts was on the side of the stage, trying (and failing) to get Neil off the stage for the last hour of the set. I recall Beck had a great set that night at Tinley Park ... that seemed to push Neil on as well. I think all those factors added up to Neil ignoring common sense (and Elliot). I had been fortunate to see Neil the week before at Deer Creek ... but that set was, to be honest, not that great.

But, again, the night was pure magic and remains the best Neil show I've ever personally seen.
At 8/19/2009 10:23:00 AM, Anonymous Kevin Driver said...

My wife and I were at this concert and we can back up this story. We were sitting in the "Rust Row" a few rows back off center right. The water cascading down the aisle caused ankle deep floods at the bottom of the seats in front of the stage. We stood on our chairs and roared the band on. I don't remember seeing anyone leave from where we were and it was indeed a night we will never forget.

At 7/24/2012 10:50:00 PM, Blogger Matthew L. said...

This sounds like a really awesome show. Very nice!


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