Neil Young Farm Aid 2013 Setlist 9.21.13 (via Bad News Beat):
1. Blowin' In The Wind (Bob Dylan song; acoustic guitar)
2. Early Morning Rain (Gordon Lightfoot song; acoustic guitar)
3. Old Man (acoustic guitar)
4. Heart Of Gold (acoustic guitar)
5. Since I Met You Baby (Ivory Joe Hunter song; piano, harmonica)
6. Reason to Believe (Tim Hardin song; pump organ)
7. Changes (Phil Ochs song; acoustic guitar)
This past Saturday, Farm Aid 2013 took place at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. It's an annual tradition hosted by Neil Young, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews to raise money and awareness for American farmers.
Last year, Neil Young played with Crazy Horse. Unfortunately, the group was forced to take an indefinite hiatus after guitar player Frank "Poncho" Sampedro broke his hand. This year, Neil played a solo set packed with rare cover songs by Gordon Lightfoot, Ivory Joe Hunter, Tim Hardin, and Phil Ochs, in addition to Young's staple songs, "Old Man," "Heart of Gold," and "Blowin' In The Wind" by Bob Dylan.
Musically, it was yet another great performance by the archetype of all folk rock singer-songwriters. As Neil Young approaches his 68th birthday, he's seemingly put the scare of his 2005 brain aneurysm in the past and appears to be in great health. During this Farm Aid performance, he has great energy and looks pretty good. Pacing around the stage, Young's eyes showed a laser-like focus even as he played soft slow rambling tunes. He was completely on point, playing intricate licks on guitar and piano without missing a beat.
As usual, Neil wore a flannel shirt and poured his heart out. As outspoken as he's been throughout his career, on this night he was especially talkative. This should be expected, given the social and political platform that Farm Aid was built to enable. During "Old Man," he gave a long speech about the importance of American farmers. He goes as far as to name Monsanto as part of the climate change problem, pointing to changes in chemical engineering and industrial farming as being connected to the changes in weather cycles we've seen lately. Young also ranted about how bio-fuels should replace gasoline as the fuel for automobiles. Young got a big cheer when he said, "they could mandate it if they had the balls," talking about the government.
At one point, as Neil Young is waxing poetic about the shortness of life and his conversation with 94 year old Pee Seeger, someone from the crowd yelled "let's go" as if to get Neil Young to play his next song faster, which drew a moment of comedy as Neil Young responded, "Come on, let's go? Did I hear 'come on, let's go'? I'm on my way, buddy. I work for me. So ya know, I'm trying to make a little point here. Sometimes I take too long..." Then proceeded to introduce "Changes" by Phil Ochs, who Neil considers among the greatest songwriters who ever lived.
Neil Young's message: Buy locally grown produce and make choices that encourage sustainability. Climate change is a problem that can be stopped.