The sleepy village of Omemee, Ont., was entertaining the world Friday night as Canadian rock legend Neil Young returned to his childhood hometown for an intimate acoustic concert.
While the private show — which was streamed online — was for about 225 invited guests, thousands made their way to the village to gather outside Coronation Hall to watch Young’s performance on big and small TV screens.
The show was organized by Young’s brother Bob who still lives in the village of 1,300 located about 20 kilometres west of Peterborough.
“After 25 years of people asking me if the show was ever going to happen, it’s finally happening,” he told CHEX News prior to the show.
Young’s show called Home Town featured a two-hour mix of 18 songs including classic hits such as Heart of Gold and Harvest Moon and one single coinciding with the release of his new album The Visitor and his new online archives. Young used several guitars, a harmonica and piano throughout the performance.
In late September, the 72-year-old Young was inducted into the Canadian Singer-Songwriters Hall of Fame in Toronto. While he was in the area he and his partner, actress Daryl Hannah toured the town and that’s when Bob Young says they agreed to do the show.
“Neil told me one time the best recording he ever made was in Massey Hall and I think it’s one of the factors that helped cause this to happen,” he said.
“Because this place (Coronation Hall) is designed by the same person.”
Funds raised from the concert, believed to be more than $18,000, will support Scott Young Public School in Omemee, a building named after Young’s father who was a longtime journalist and novelist. Neil Young lived in Omemee from age 4 to 11.
Hundreds of people filled the streets hoping to get close to Young and possibly snap a picture of the rock icon. Hannah attended the Christmas tree lighting, which was featured in the opening of the online show.
“Colton Eddy, the manager for The Hents, he works for the Strombo show, says ‘I got this great idea, says I want to broadcast the Neil Young show in Omemee,” said Ryan Kemp, an organizer with the Peterborough Folk Festival. “And he contacted me (Thursday) and asked if the folk festival wanted to get on board it was a no-brainer and so here were are.”
The show was also broadcast at the Omemee Curling Club.