I remember this concert very well. I love Neil Young, and had seen him with Crazy Horse a couple times before this show, but I had not seen Sonic Youth or Social Distortion, and I was pretty psyched that they were fleshing out a solid triple bill (and for only $20!!).
I went with my good friend and fellow musician, Big Ed Stokes (he was morbidly big, which sadly led to his early death not long after this show). Ed was one of the best guitarists I knew, and we spent many long days together playing music and teaching each other songs.
Anyway, we got to the Miami Arena with plenty time to spare, got situated, and waited for the music to start. Social D played first, and they totally rocked it! Straight-ahead rock and roll with a healthy injection of punk. When they finished, all I could think was, “Damn! I’d love to see them as a headliner.” They played a smokin’ version Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” which was mind-blowing. When they finished and the lights came up, Ed and I were both pumped and ready for the next act—Sonic Youth.
What can I say about Sonic Youth? They were one of the most disappointing bands I have ever seen. Maybe my expectations were too high, but the truth is, I thought they sucked. I stood there watching them, as they mindlessly pounded on their instruments, making noise, and rolling around on the stage, getting tangled in their cords. It was like watching a group of morons who were trying to make obnoxious noise to torment those around them. I distinctly recall wondering if they even knew how to play their instruments, because it did not seem like it to me. And after such a great set from Social D, it just made them sound all the worse. I asked Ed what he thought of them, and he said “They fuckin’ suck. I’m getting a headache.” Now Ed never shied away from loud music, so I felt validated. We ended up hanging out in the hallway until they finished playing.
After the Sonic Cacophony ended, we went back inside and waited for Neil. Finally, the lights went down and Neil & Co. exploded on stage with “Hey Hey, My My,” and it was one killer song after another. The high points for me were a powerful cover version of Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and “Welfare Mothers” as one of the encore tunes. I can close my eyes right now, 27 years later, and still picture them on stage, pounding out some of the greatest rock and roll ever. As long as Neil Young is still alive, then rock and roll can never die.
Here is the setlist from the show.
- Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)
- Crime in the City
- Blowin’ in the Wind
- Love to Burn
- Cinnamon Girl
- Mansion on the Hill
- Fuckin’ Up
- Cortez the Killer
- Love and Only Love
- Rockin’ in the Free World
- Welfare Mothers
- Like a Hurricane