Neil Young gets political at Desert Trip on his own and with Promise Of The Real

Neil Young Photos by Daniel DeSlover (from Milwaukee Summerfest 2016)

The second day of Desert Trip at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California may have started about a half hour past the originally scheduled tip off time, but once Neil Young got seated behind the piano for a solo performance of “After The Gold Rush,” it was off to the races. The impact of a single voice and a few keys hushing more than 70,000 people was immense and he soon switched to acoustic guitar as the crowd relished a stripped-down take on “Heart of Gold.”

“Come back tomorrow, Roger [Waters] is going to build a wall and make Mexico great again.”

But it didn’t take long for the one time member of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young to start making social statements, such as when “Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)” featured a pair of workers in full-bodied hazmat suits spraying virtual chemicals all around the stage. The track also offered a bridge to his most recent effort of agriculture awareness, “The Monsanto Years,” which also includes the band Promise Of The Real, who jointed Young for the rest of the chemistry-filled set.

Neil YoungWhether the leader went unplugged for “Harvest Moon” or electric on “Words,” POTR stayed locked on the same page every step of the way, while also exploring various impromptu jams that culminated with a prolonged, ferocious rendition of “Down By The River.” As for politics, it took nearly the entire set, but Young finally made a statement when he told the crowd, “come back tomorrow, Roger [Waters] is going to build a wall and make Mexico great again.”

He also added, “stand up for your rights, here’s Donald Trump’s new campaign song,” as the entire cast launched into “Welfare Mothers.” Young then noted he had only had a few moments left on stage and strangely suggested, ‘we can do ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ in 40 seconds,’ though luckily he took the proper time and was able to properly end the set with grenade-like explosiveness.

For additional information on Neil Young, visit

Upcoming concert highlights at Desert Trip include The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan (Oct. 14); Paul McCartney and Neil Young + Promise Of The Real (Oct. 15) and Roger Waters and The Who (Oct. 16). For additional details, visit