Neil Young never performed before in Turkey.
Most of the crowd in Istanbul’s KüçükÇiftlik Park were 20-somethings born long after Young’s songs were first performed.
Nonetheless, the spirited crowd was chock full of enthusiasts who knew all the words to the Neil Young & Crazy Horse biggest hits, and the few less electronic solos by Neil Young as well, such as “Heart of Gold”.
This was more of a sing-along then your average US rock show.
It was clearly a love fest. That Young and Crazy Horse musicians are closer to 70 than 20 made no difference.
If you weren’t reminded of Woodstock already, the weather cooperated by bringing along some rain, which Neil Young moved to front stage to feel and announce “free water!.
Most Americans probably don’t remember that Neil Young was the one who commemorated Kent State with his song “Ohio”. In a place where protests over proposed development that would destroy a park in Istanbul’s Taksim Square area, at least one concertgoer unfurled a homemade sign reminding of deaths in Turkey mirroring those in Ohio so many years ago.
Neil Young is not the type of performer who talks to the crowd in between songs, and he didn’t last night.
But when the group sang “Rockin in the Free World” as their finale – before their encore song about saving earth—you felt that this was a selection mindful of the struggles for democracy and representation that are bubbling not far below Turkey’s surface, at least in Istanbul.
The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts were the organizers of this concert and many others by world-class musicians of all genres. To find out about upcoming concerts in Istanbul visit the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts website .
Photos: Emre Mollaoğlu, unless otherwise indicated