Charley’s Saloon in Paia kept a pretty tight lid on a very good secret for about a month. But once the news got leaked that Neil Young would be performing with Lukas Nelson & The Promise of The Real at this local hotspot, this island showed its skills in quick gossip.
The line wrapped itself around the block by early evening, and unless your name was on the list, your chances of getting near this rock legend were slim. There was a $25 cover charge for all who entered, but even money couldn’t help some poor folks cross the threshold. Charley’s is no stranger to bigger names, as images of Leon Russell, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Steven Tyler grace the interior walls. Many who were left outside ended up watching from windows or listening through the back alley stage door, happy to take it in however they could.
There couldn’t have been a better venue to host Neil Young, or a happier audience to receive him. As owner Jonathan Herman said, “Neil Young wanted to play to a crowd that has the motivation and insight to make a difference in this world.” And once Neil Young stepped onto that stage, it was easy to understand what difference he was referring to.
Mr. Young was out in full promotion of his upcoming album “The Monsanto Years,” with every song reveling in the wishful downfall of the GMO Giant. A man unapologetic in sight and in song, “real-as-they-come,” who has never been known to sugarcoat his beliefs, at 69 years of age obviously felt there was no reason to start now. And from the crowd’s response, he was preaching to the choir.
Neil and the band spent a lengthy intermission at Willie Nelson’s home literally down the street, resting their feet and having some dinner. It helps to have friends in high places!
Once back on stage (and in a fresh shirt), the show kept it’s high-energy rock and roll vibe! The audience was packed like tight sardines, there was little room for actual dancing, but that didn’t keep the entire room from swaying in unison to the beat. Charley’s has a capacity of 220, and they easily met their quota.
Once the show was done, it was done. No amount of cheering or boot-stomping could bring the band back out for an encore. And there was something cool about that. This band had played their songs and said their piece. We all left with priceless memories of the night we caught such an iconic talent at such a legendary haunt.