When Neil Young announced that he’d be playing a secret show for 200 people, our gut instinct was Omemee. Young had posted photos on social media earlier in the year on the day of his Songwriters Hall of Fame induction showing himself in Omemee. Naturally it would make sense that his Hometown show would be in the little town.
After entering four different radio contests and coming up short, we figured our only shot at tickets was to go to the venue (and hopefully, FINALLY meet Neil). We drove up Thursday night after work (a solid 5 hours thanks to Toronto traffic) and headed straight to Coronation Hall. Young was inside sound checking and a group of about 7 people stood around the venue. The security team had also been there all week 24-7 guarding the hall so no equipment was stolen. Kudos to those guys because it was cold as balls!
When Young left the venue that night around midnight, we were prepared to camp out but thankfully everyone was just as cold as us and cleared out. We headed to a motel in Peterborough where we grabbed a few hours of sleep before heading back early the next morning.
The next day started super early- getting in line around 5:30 am. While the concert was essentially guest-list only, we were hopeful that a handful of tickets would be released on the day of the show (hey it happened for The Hip). We quickly started a line and a few hours later were joined by some other music lovers who would wait the day with us. This is ALWAYS the best part about lining up early; making new friends and learning about other peoples’ love for music.
Around noon a security guard came out to inform us there would be absolutely no tickets released (boo!). We started a new lineup however to get into an outdoor viewing area orchestrated by Neil’s girlfriend Darryl Hannah.
Seven bone chilling hours later, Ryan and I joined 63 others in the “winter wonderland” viewing area. Sitting on straw bails and wooden chairs, we all cozied in under christmas lights, in front of beautiful live trees and old tube televisions.
From here, we watched the show stream live onto the old fashioned sets and the crowd cheered, sang and laughed together as Neil put on a spectacular performance. He sang hits like “Long May You Run”, “Heart of Gold” and of course “Helpless” (a song about Omemee itself). On top of that, Neil also joked with the crowd and played a selection of other tunes from his catalogue including “Tumbleweed” on the ukulele and “Old King” on the banjo. This one was particularly special as Neil hadn’t played it since 2009.
Why it was Worth it
So you might be thinking…”That’s it?”. While we didn’t get into the concert, I still think it was worth a shot. If we’d stayed home we would never have had the chance. We also wouldn’t have met all the amazing people we did (shout out to the couple who brought Ryan and me nanaimo bars while we waited in line). Despite being outside, we managed to still be a part of the action and the day in general. That to me, will always be worth it.
Peace, love & history.