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Thursday, July 05, 2018

Neil Young Has A "Rough Night" In Detroit

A Personal Note by Neil
(via Neil Young Archives Times-Contrarian)

In a startlingly candid and heart wrenching post on NYA Times-Contrarian, Neil Young writes that it was a "rough night" in Detroit this week.

Neil writes:
In Detroit, we had something going against that. It was the fourth of July holiday and some folks were celebrating, already high when they arrived at the show. 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. Of course, if I had a band, I could just blast out the show and rock on. So I came away from Detroit a bit mentally bruised and battered, yet still happy that so many people enjoyed the performance that I had tried to give them, even though they were somewhat short changed by circumstance.
Tuesday night's solo concert at Fox Theatre, Detroit, July 3, 2018 was live streamed for Neil fans around the world and what should have been an evening of pure delight became something disturbing on many levels. Apparently disturbing to such an extent that Neil himself was moved to express his frustration with his fans and their behavior. Neil chalks up the rowdy fans behavior for being on the eve of the 4th of July and those getting a jump on the holiday. We think Neil is being very generous here because this could have happened in just about any other city, on any given night of the week.

Neil goes into describing losing his focus and omitting stories he wanted to tell. Obviously, this candid assessment of the evening is deeply troubling that it has all come to this. We here at Thrasher's Wheat tried to do what we could to avoid the situation with our posting last week on Neil Young Concert Etiquette: Chapter #28.

When Neil Young is Playing, You Shut the Fuck Up

As we discussed at length in our Neil Young concert etiquette post, we have been chronicling this boorish behavior repeatedly, over and over, through the years. And, yet -- still -- there are so many who only care about themselves while caring little about their fellow fans. But, really, who exactly are these offenders? Can they really be rusties? (We'll get to our theories later).

From "My my, hey hey, Neil Young fans an unruly bunch" | Detroit News by Adam Graham:
To be fair, at Neil Young it was a case of a few ruining it for everyone, which is often the case in many disturbances, be it at a concert or a public gathering of any sort. And those few are either too ignorant, too belligerent or too male to empathize with others or realize the effect they're having on everyone else. And too often it's the few who dictate things for the many.

Neil Young knows his name, yelling "NEIL!" or "UNCLE NEIL!" isn't going to cause any grand epiphany for him. He knows you love him, that's why you paid to come see the show. And he knows his songs, shouting "MY MY, HEY HEYYY!" isn't going to remind him that he sings a song called "My My, Hey Hey" and get him to play it for you.

So once that is established, what is the point of continuing to yell out? Is it the thirst for a reply? And is getting some acknowledgment worth ruining the experience for so many concertgoers around you?

By attending a concert, like any public gathering, you enter into a social contract. The same way you wouldn't sit down at a restaurant and scream the chef's name after biting into the pasta primavera, you shouldn't shout out things at a concert if it's not that kind of show. Read the room and act accordingly. At an arena rock concert, all bets are off, the louder you are the better. But if a concert is a quiet acoustic gathering, keep the loudmouth comments to yourself for the sake of those around you.

"When Neil Young is Playing, You Shut the Fuck Up"
John from Idaho in Chicago, June 30

We attended both of the Chicago shows this past weekend, and while the misbehavior was there, it didn't seem to phase Neil whatsoever and he just rolled through it. Not so with the Detroit audience which clearly rattled Neil and through him off his game. Now we've been to a lot of Neil Young concerts -- including the infamous "Shut up asshole!" 1999 concert -- and long ago resigned ourselves to the nature of the beast.

And we've certainly opined at length on the subject of concert etiquette over the years:

So what to do?

Someone shared with us a suggestion that instead of screening fans for contraband, Security could focus on screening out rude behavior. Or how about this? Recall that in recent years, reserved seats for Crazy Horse concerts were placed behind the GA section, in order to allow fans to rock on the rail. How about the inverse for solo concerts? Imagine all the folks who want to talk, drink, act rowdy, etc at a solo concert to be seated in a glass box section where they can make all the noise that they want?

Well, the answer is blowin' in the wind... (or The Unbearable Lightness of Being Neil Young) ...

Neil Young Mocking Audience Texters
Bridgeport, CT - 12/4/12
(Click photo to enlarge)

Labels: , ,


At 7/05/2018 07:32:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

I would not think the BS is coming from Rusties or any 'true' Neilhead, but from the greatest hitsters who don't even know the f*ckin' words to Like a Hurricane. It's a bitch to be near them and when you call them out they get indignant and cry out that they have the choice to do what they want cause they paid for the ticket. Idiots are idiots and its a cryin shame they aren't herded out the doors. Shine on you crazy diamonds, Neil is here for us and now has spoken out to address it, good for him.

At 7/05/2018 07:45:00 PM, Blogger Hounds That Howl said...

Public shaming could work. Snap a cellphone photo of offender and post to social media. We could build a rogues gallery of assholes. This could create some problems, but it carries less potential liability of my preferred method of dealing with it, taser.

At 7/05/2018 08:07:00 PM, Blogger Senor said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 7/05/2018 08:09:00 PM, Blogger Senor said...

Public shaming, huh?
Geez man, kinda extreme.
This is LIFE, Friend. Ya pays ya money and ya takes yer chances.
Say something to them. get an usher. Or ignore it and try to enjoy their rowdiness.

I had a blast at both Chicago shows and while people yelled, it didn't phase Neil then.
I think he was spot on about Detroit July 3 and people partying too much. All in all I felt bad for Neil because he wanted to deliver something and wasn't able to. He looked flustered and kind of sad.

I try to NOT yell because I don't take any pleasure in it. I did once ask two young ladies to stop chatting during a slow song at a Prince show. They apologized and got quiet.
But the direction you're suggesting is one step away from people getting violent about nothing. You snap a pic and sneer, maybe the guys sees you do it, next thing you know the cat you took a picture of wants to kick your ass. People are wild and unpredictable these days. Things have changed. Everyone is on a hair trigger and wants to shame others or who knows what else....

Try being Aware of yourself and then perhaps, just maybe, those people won't bother you because you are tuned into yourself and your own experience.
I know, I know, A guy barfing on ya can fuck up your chi, but it's better than a step in the wrong direction.
Public Shaming is the wrong direction.

Just my opinion.

At 7/05/2018 08:14:00 PM, Blogger Richie Cruz said...

Nothing changes, jerks will be jerks, always and forever. Neil can try to calm things down, onstage and through statements, but it won't make much difference.

Reminds me of the later years of the Grateful Dead when the band had flyers passed out in the parking lot asking "fans" to not show up without tickets and generally behave themselves better at and around the shows. Did it make any impact? None, whatsoever. The band just got banned from more and more cities and cooler venues.

It's a free country, so people have the right to do what they want when they purchase a ticket, but I sure do wish they could think of others in the process, like the other fans and the actual artist who they are paying to see.

Nothing's changed, though. Just go back and read some interviews where Neil was describing the crowds on the Time Fades Away tour....forty friggin years ago.

At 7/05/2018 08:17:00 PM, Blogger Senor said...

Well put, Richard S.
I salute you.

At 7/05/2018 08:37:00 PM, Blogger Senor said...

Just another thought....I doubt the kind of people bringing the ruckus aren't the kind of people that read Thrasher's. Not to mention read or give a shit about etiquette.


At 7/05/2018 09:59:00 PM, Blogger Ken N. said...

When he was younger Neil used to be able to intimidate an audience for his solo shows into silence.

But the last few years: there's the Cinnamon Girl guy down in Texas and Powderfinger-guy and Pocahontas-guy
in Detroit.

When I saw him in Boston doing a solo show a couple of years ago the audience was raucous and shouting all sorts
of stuff, but he just rolled with it. Probably because of the stream, those song-callers really agitated him in Detroit.
And they were under his skin almost from the get-go.

Late in one of the Chicago shows I thought he came up with the best response: "Okay, okay, I'll play that song. . .in 14 days."

Why does Who Controls the Setlist even become an issue for some people? THE ARTIST CONTROLS THE SETLIST. Don't like it: Leave.

At 7/05/2018 10:18:00 PM, Blogger anon said...

Not sure what to make of this as contrast/context: Springsteen, arguably, has a similar catalog mix of ballads and rockers. Yet, during his Broadway shows, you could hear a pin drop for two solid hours. I imagine that most of those in attendance at his Broadway shows have at some point in their lives made themselves hoarse by shouting out Born In The USA while fist pumping away in some big stadium. Somehow those fans intuit that the should “shut the fuck up” for Broadway. Maybe Neil should get advice from his buddy Bruce?

At 7/05/2018 11:20:00 PM, Blogger Old rocker Dave said...

I sure hope that the fans conduct during the “Solo”tour don’t affect Neil’s upcoming tours. I was in St Louis where it all started and have followed the TW reports from concerts with disgust. I don’t see a solution to our problem, but with that said I don’t think we should give up and accept it. We, are blessed to be in Neil’s presence and I’m sure that he feels the same about us. In the sixties we demonstrated for respect for our freedoms. Now it seems like we’re losing respect for everyone. Let’s all collectively show that we respect the artist, our fellow fans, and mostly ourselves.

At 7/06/2018 04:17:00 AM, Blogger Roop said...

I have had grief when asking people politely "to talk quietly, please" at Roy Harper acoustic gigs. Sometimes it feels like one is in the minority to want to catch-it-all at a concert. Sad.

At 7/06/2018 06:19:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I was at the Detroit show. I enjoyed the concert. Every Neil show I have ever been to, acoustic or electric, there are fans that are obnoxious. Detroit was not special in that way. I thought Neil did great. I’m more sad to see everyone, even Neil, making a fuss about it. Some people just suck. I told my wife before the show that she would experience some bad fan behaviour...that’s how common it is. Relax people. You’re getting touchy in your old age.

-call it sickness gone

At 7/06/2018 07:06:00 AM, Blogger Tim said...

Fact of the matter is, similar artists (Bruce, Paul Simon, Dylan, Cohen, Waits, hell even Paul McCartney in an arena) have no problem at all talking (when they do or when they did, in Dylan's case it's been years now but he used to) and the crowd, however large, would shut up. I have never been to a Neil concert where there isn't at least a portion of the crowd there that has no respect at all for other fans or really for Neil for that matter - as soon as a song is done they're shouting his name or shouting song titles or whatever. It's Neil Young fans, I'm not sure why. Grungy loud rock / hits part of his career attracts those types maybe? Does it happen to John Fogerty?

Neil's solo shows are almost always amazing, it is where he is at his best these days but some of his fans just don't get it and likely never will. Detroit was especially bad. Too bad too since Detroit is likely the most personal stop on this little tour for him considering he spent a lot of key time there starting out as a solo performer in Detroit and Windsor. That's likely the reason why it got to him and he posted about it, likely because Detroit above all meant the most and he was saddened by the crowd being generally the least receptive to what he wanted to share with them.

At 7/06/2018 09:41:00 AM, Blogger Paul OnTheBeach said...

A few thoughts:

1. It is hard to compare this set of shows to earlier tours people have referenced, since these shows it's apparent is trying to connect both with his songs and his stories. There have been many a show/tour where Neil is pretty damn quiet between songs, essentially letting the music doing the talking. I think what's happened here is morons' shouts interfering with his choreography between songs.

2. Springsteen on Broadway: It is NOT a concert. It is a scripted Broadway performance. I think people attending know this, and know upfront that shouting/misbehavior would never be tolerated, just as it wouldn't be tolerated at a performance of My Fair Lady. Also - Bruce is playing to what - 400 people? That is a different audience setting than the Fox in the D.

3. Blaming non-NY or casual NY fans only for concert disruption is easy but not always accurate. I've been to shows where I've been: 1) shushed repeatedly into near silence because I was within proximity of NY taper; 2) been stuck behind the "it's Neil Young, we're dancing" NY fans even when 95% of the *other* passionate NY fans would prefer to be seated (I guess these NY fans are more special than the rest of us); 3) and general boorish behavior from people who appear to be very much NY fans.

I am not blaming passionate NY fans for what happened in Detroit. Just pointing out that concert misbehavior comes from all parties, mostly because of selfish, all about me, type of behavior.

At 7/06/2018 10:47:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Very sad to hear this...This kind of behavior has reached epidemic proportions. Not sure what the answer is. One thing that would help would be removal of obnoxious fans by security. It has been my experience that while security is strict about some things, they are very lax about actually doing anything once a show starts.

At 7/06/2018 01:20:00 PM, Blogger NYBD11-12 said...

As an Detroit ex pat, I apologize for the motor city madness displayed at the Fox Theater. I, too, would have been very frustrated with dim wits yelling out "Southern Man" or "Welfare Mothers" or whatever. It would have spoiled the experience for me too.

Detroit area plays an important part in the NY story. Thee he formed the Myna Birds with Ricky Mathews (aka Rick James). He wrote "Old Laughing Lady" at a White Castle.Sugar Mountain and Live from Canterbury House in 1968 recorded in Ann Arbor. Played 2 nights at Pine Knob in Rust Tour 1978. Only other cities w/2 shows: NY & LA. Played Bright Sunny Day for 1st/only time. Sedan Delivery, My my hey hey, Welfare Mothers all debuted there.

I now live WDC. Neil, we would welcome a solo show, and would keep the yahoos quiet. Keep on rocking in the free world...

At 7/06/2018 02:14:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Having been to eight NY shows this year, for the most part I have been fortunate to be close to the front, where people are enjoying the muse and the music. However, on the last night in Santa Barbara, there was a couple behind me who wouldn't shut up. It was obnoxious. I finally turned around to them with my hands in a prayer and said "please, stop talking!" If people want to talk, let them go to the bar or somewhere outside. I have little patience for inconsiderate people. The last time I saw Neil go off on the audience was at Carnegie Hall, when he went on for several minutes about people texting. It's a sad situation.

At 7/06/2018 03:33:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

With all due respect and love towards Neil, I think this is much ado about nothing. There have always been obnoxious Neil fans and there always will be. As a kid, some of the things I loved most on various bootlegs was the crowd and the choruses of NEIL!!!!, etc...

Sometimes back then, and sometimes in the not too distant past, Neil also liked it or tolerated it. It's really a function of his mood on any given night.

Look, I don't like being next to obnoxious fans, but I think we'd all struggle to define exactly what an obnoxious fan is. Sometimes, in my opinion, it's the diehard Neil fan who wants to enjoy the show only on their terms, be it extremely quiet, or loud, or drunk, or high, or reverential or condescending, etc....

It's music--enjoy it how you want to, but just try to be at least a little respectful of your fellow man and woman. We're all much better off when we show some tolerance.

"Take my advice
Don't listen to me"

At 7/06/2018 07:20:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

If you think Detroit was bad, you should have been in Knoxville in 2010.

At 7/07/2018 12:08:00 AM, Blogger Grey Rider said...

Thought the show in Detroit was fine.
The live stream had a rough night, though.
The stream kept stopping to buffer for about the first 15 minutes of the show.
After that the cast was OK. Maybe there was a technical correction during concert?

At 7/07/2018 12:20:00 AM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

I think there were some minor (and maybe not so minor) sound issues throughout, and that's likely what really ticked Neil off a little. I remember during the live-stream when he said something like "I can't hear," etc...

It seems to me the Detroit crowd likely wasn't significantly worse than many others, but some times, there's just a confluence of events that ultimately brought Neil's spirits down a little, but his performance was still very good to great.

"Take my advice
Don't listen to me"

At 7/07/2018 10:24:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I had a mezzanine seat at the St Louis show and, while there were several folks around me who constantly had their phones out, the shouters seemed to be on the orchestra level. I guess concert etiquette has gone the same direction as etiquette in general as an increasing number feel that "my rights are much more important than the community's rights". Maybe when nearly everyone used to roll a half-dozen or so fatties to take to the show, things were more civil.

At 7/07/2018 12:02:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...


At 7/07/2018 01:11:00 PM, Blogger Hounds That Howl said...


At 7/08/2018 09:40:00 AM, Blogger Tamara in Montana said...

I’ve been to four NY shows this year and have seen him on three solo tours and at Carnegie hall. I was in Detroit close to the stage last Tuesday.
This was the most disruptive crowd I’ve ever heard at an intimate neil young show. It was distracting to the audience and disrespectful to the performer, period. There is No excuse for the selfish boors at concerts and in this country who think their right to be a disruptive ass is more important than the rights of the whole.

This opinion piece in the Detroit news is spot on - read the crowd and the occasion and act accordingly:


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