Neil Young played at the historic Shakespeare Theatre in 1971, and his solo performance has finally been released as a live album and DVD.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a Neil Young fan that thinks the 1970s wasn’t his finest decade. I mean, if we’re not counting his more recent lawsuit against Donald Trump. In his heyday, the prolific singer-songwriter wrote arrestingly, sung gently, and played his acoustic thoughtfully – enrapturing millions.
One of his earliest performances has just been released as a live album and concert film.
Image: Young Shakespeare
If you hadn’t heard of Young’s performance at the Shakespeare Theatre, you’re not to blame. The footage and recordings from a German Television crew have been collecting dust in a vault for 5 decades. The concert has also been largely overshadowed by his iconic performance at Toronto’s Massey Hall, only three days earlier.
However, Young himself favours the Shakespeare performance. “Shakespeare is superior to our beloved Macey Hall’, the artist admitted in the Neil Young Archives last year. The singer explained that the Shakespeare performance was calmer, “personal and emotional, “ and ultimately defined that era for him. Not to mention, it’s all been captured on 16mm film.
#NowPlaying Neil Young says this was his ‘best show ever’.
It’s bloody great!!
— MervynDinnen (@MervynDinnen) March 28, 2021
The performance is crystal clear, with the percussive nuances of Young’s warm acoustic shining through and Young’s delicate vocals intact. His understated interactions with the crowd between songs is another highlight of the album: “Everybody knows about… about heroin and ah, what can happen to people that use heroin. But most people don’t think about it much, because they just don’t wanna think about it, and I can dig that”.
He then jumps into one of the most haunting performances of The Needle And The Damage Done you’ll ever hear. Other standout songs on the live album include Old Man, Helpless, and Ohio. You can order the Young Shakespeare vinyl, CD, and DVD (or all three!) at The Greedy Hands Store here.
Listen to Young Shakespeare (Live) below: