Neil Young in Halifax
I was getting ready for school one morning when my father said that my
cousin Jennifer was on the phone and she wanted to know if I wanted a ticket to
the Neil Young concert coming up in Halifax. I said I did and I kind of forgot
It was Halloween night and I was listening to an old Crosby, Stills,
Nash and Young album when I looked at the release date when I realized that in a
mere five days I was going to witness a legend in his finest form.
Some say the Neil Young is playing the finest guitar of his life these days.
Some people say that he’s just an old man who can’t sing, never could sing and
should have retired a long time ago. I on the other hand see him differently.
He is man who doesn’t care about his appearance, doesn’t care about what
other people think about him. He is an entertainer. He is a healer. He is a
Canadian. He is a man. When I picture myself at fifty I picture myself like
We left for the concert on Tuesday morning and we arrived in the city at
about noon. My uncle drove me and my cousin Edward up. We bummed around the
city for a while and then we went to Jen’s place where we were staying. There
were a few other people from Inverness staying there as well.
My uncle, Edward and I left for the concert at around quarter to seven. We
kind of got lost. We got to the show at around seven thirty. While we were in
line waiting to get in I could here the band that was performing. It was then
that I realized what I was about to experience. I stumbled to my seat, half
looking a my feet, half looking at the band on stage. I can’t remember their
name but they were good. As soon as we sat down the band ended their set and
the lights came on. Then we just sat their for a while and I saw a lot of
people that I knew from Mabou.
The lights went out and the place started to rumble with excitement.
Moist came out on stage and started playing their set. When the band started to
play Push I ran down to the front along with just about everyone else. But we
were pushed back by the security. So we just sat in our seats for the rest of
The lights came back on and their were a bunch of guys on stage who were
messing with stuff. One guy had on a big white jump suit and everyone thought
he was Neil Young so when he would appear on the stage everyone would start to
scream. Neil Young did come out on the stage once to tune his guitar. He just
stood there and looked out at us all. He played a few things and he handed his
guitar to the man in the white jump suit.He left the stage and didn’t return
for about a half hour.
I was talking to Brandon McNeil when the lights went out again. Neil
started his set with a real hard rocker which just sent everyone into a frenzy.
Everyone was standing on their seats which meant that if you wanted to see
anything you had to as well. They jammed for what seemed like hours.
Neil would be leaning forward just beating the tar out of that old guitar.
It’s same guitar he’s used for over 28 years. It’s the same guitar he played at
Woodstock. It’s all black except for the back of the neck where his hand has
rubbed off all the paint so it’s just the color of the wood.
His stage presence is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. He’s not the
most gracious person I’ve ever seen but he’s got a real quality to him. A true
quality. He would just rock back and forth and crunch up his face and let his
guitar sing. At one point, Neil Young, the bass player and the other guitar
player were huddled around in a circle and they were all rocking back and forth.
It looked as though they were going to butt heads. It reminded me of a tribal
dance of some sort.
The concert mesmerized me. I paid no attention to the idiots in front
of me smoking pot or the guy who kept falling off his chair a few seat down.
For the entire time I was in a world of my own. Just me and Neil.
He didn’t talk much. At one point he said into the mic “How ya doin’?”
But that was pretty much it.
He played a lot of songs of his latest album which I didn’t know. But he
played a lot of old songs too like “needle and the damage done” and “heart of
gold” which were crowd pleasers. But when he played “rocking in the free world”
I ran down to the front of the stage. I was about four feet away from Neil
Young and this giant hand grabbed me from behind. That giant hand was attached
to a giant security guard which asked me for my ticket so he could escort me
back to my seat. And since I gave my ticket to someone so they could get on to
the floor I didn’t have any ticket to show him. I said that my mom was holding
on to my ticket and I ran from him before he decided whether he believed my
story or not.
When Neil was done with “rocking in the free world” they just went bananas
for about two minutes. They would build up all this musical tension and then
release it and build up this tension again that was just asking to be resolved.
I just kept getting louder and louder and louder and Neil Young sang the chorus
to “rocking in the free world” one more time by himself and he addressed the
crowd saying “Thank you and good luck”. Which seemed to sum it up pretty well.
He left the stage but everyone knew he would be back again so we all just
stood there and screamed at the empty stage. He came on again and played for
another twenty minutes or so. The encore wasn’t anything I knew but it was
By this time I realized I was very tired and my feet hurt. But what I left
the concert with wasn’t pain or tiredness…it was inspiration. I went to see a
man who was doing what I hope to do myself some day. He showed me that I can.
That night while I laid in bed I kept thinking of what he had said, “Thank
you and good luck”. It made so much sense then. He was thanking us because if
we weren’t there he wouldn’t be where he is right now. He was wishing us luck
on our own journeys whether they be in music or business or engineering.
This concert was one which I will remember for the rest of my life. I’m
going to look back at this as a millstone in my own musical career. The day I
realized what truth really is and how I can achieve it.