Neil Young Plays Pop-Up Shows in Santa Barbara

Rock-and-Roll Legend Performs Three Nights at the Lobero

Neil Young at his 2015 Santa Barbara Bowl show

Paul Wellman (file)

Neil Young at his 2015 Santa Barbara Bowl show

Word leaked out on Saturday, June 16, that rock-’n’-roll godfather Neil Young would play our majestic and rather tiny Lobero Theatre on Tuesday and Wednesday as a warmup for his headlining slot at Arroyo Seco Weekend in Pasadena the following Saturday, June 23. I was out of town both days, so didn’t bother hustling for tickets. But then I caught intel that he’d also play a Thursday show from a friend of mine who’d secured second-row tickets (albeit with a slightly partial view from the far right side), and I was in.

We arrived right after I judged the Indy’s cocktail competition at El Paseo, running into a steady stream of friends all giddy about the evening, including Jack and Kim Johnson with their oldest kid in tow, now nearly the family’s tallest. Once we all filed inside, Young started promptly, and the crowd stood at attention immediately, with most audience members out of their seats for the entire show.

Young played an unrelenting stream of guitar-heavy hits, such as “Love to Burn” and “Walk On,” backed up by Willie’s captivating kid Lukas Nelson and his band, Promise of the Real, who brought extra energy to Young’s two-hour onslaught. Though it was clearly Neil’s night, the highlight of Thursday was a new song by Nelson called “Turn Off the News,” in which the crowd enthusiastically embraced a message of tuning out the constant hate of modern media and tuning into such things as planting a garden and teaching our kids to live in love. (And the dude sounds so much like his dad, though sweeter.)

It was a much-needed salve for our currently troubled society and a reminder that, even amid this American-caused chaos, we reside in a special community that chooses to unite over the holy music of a rock star redeemer. Thanks for that, Mr. Young.

Set List:

  1. “Love to Burn”
    2. “Love and Only Love”
    3. “Lotta Love”
    4. “I Am a Child” (Buffalo Springfield cover)
    5. “Helpless”
    6. “Razor Love”
    7. “Someone's Gonna Rescue You”
    8. “Fuckin' Up”
    9. “Turn Off the News” (Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real)
    10. “Everything Is Bullshit” (Particle Kid cover)
    11. “War of Man”
    12. “Words (Between the Lines of Age)”
    13. “Walk On”
    14. “Winterlong”
    15. “Bad Fog of Loneliness”
    16. “Ohio” (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young cover)
    17. “Angry World”
    18. “Rockin' in the Free World”

Encore:

  1. “Roll Another Number (For the Road)”