In 1973, Neil Young and the Santa Monica Flyers, made up of Nils Lofgren, Ben Keith, Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina, hit the stage at the Rainbow Theatre in London for a show that went on to become a classic for fans. Although it’s finally getting an official release on April 14, if you believe Lofgren, at the time of the show the audience didn’t really love what they were experiencing.
The tour was in support of Neil’s album Tonight’s the Night, and Lofgren tells ABC Audio the record was “this otherworldly adventure in darkness and redemption.” He noted, “It was born of having to wrestle with a lot of our friends and heroes starting to die on us.”
The band would play the album in its entirety, and since fans didn’t know it yet, Lofgren says they weren’t happy. “Everyone was wondering when we were going to play ‘Cinnamon Girl’ or ‘Heart of Gold,"” he says. “And people got pissed off. They’d yell, they’d boo, they’d throw bottles.”
It took some time but folks eventually came to realize the special night they witnessed. Lofgren says as he’s played in England over the past 30 years there’s always at least one person who’ll apologize for “booing and yelling for hits” during that Rainbow concert, telling him, “’and now I realize I witnessed one of the greatest artistic nights of my life.’”
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