Music | February 26, 2023 7:26 pm

Neil Young Returned to Live Music to Protest Old Growth Logging

It was his first live set in three years

Neil Young
Neil Young in 2022.
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Neil Young has been pretty adamant about not returning to the touring circuit until he feels like the dangers from COVID-19 to touring musicians have passed. And while a number of his peers have returned to stages around the world, Young has remained cautious. If something was to get Young back out in front of an audience, it would have to be a pretty special event.

Turns out protecting old-growth forests qualifies. As Pitchfork reports, Young paid a visit to an ongoing protest in Victoria, British Columbia on Saturday and played a pair of songs — “Comes a Time” and “Heart of Gold.” The lyrics in the former about how “[i]t’s a wonder tall trees ain’t layin’ down” feel particularly resonant given the context.

You can watch Neil Young’s whole performance in the clip below. (Young takes to the stage about two minutes in, following an introduction by Daryl Hannah.)

The protest, situated near British Columbia’s provincial government buildings, is intended to protect old growth forests from the logging industry. Young and Hannah both made impassioned cases for preserving the trees. As The Globe and Mail reported, Young’s appearance came as a surprise to many of the protestors.

Neil Young does have another live date planned for later this year — the Light Up the Blues benefit concert in April. Given Young’s long history with benefit events, it’s not all that surprising that supporting a cause got him back in front of an audience again.