Even for an artist known to be adventurous and unpredictable, Neil Young’s four-show run in Minneapolis over the next week is unlike anything he’s done in his 55-year career.
Sure, Young regularly plays multi-night stands on tour — especially on his frequent solo acoustic outings. But only two cities have seen him do four shows in one swoop over the past decade, Los Angeles and New York.
Even then, the concerts were at the same venue, not different locations like the musical-chairs-style theater hop he’s offering here.
Young’s run starts Saturday at the Pantages Theatre, continues Monday and Tuesday at the neighboring Orpheum and State theaters, respectively, then moves across the river to Northrop auditorium on Thursday. Nearly all of the roughly 8,400 tickets (priced at $50 to $300) were sold exclusively through his site Neil YoungArchives.com, which requires a $20 membership fee.
All four nights will feature just him and his large circle of guitars, plus a piano and maybe organ. For sharp sonic contrast, he’s heading up to his former hometown of Winnipeg for a two-night run Feb. 3-4 with his legendary (and famously loud) band Crazy Horse.
The simplicity of these all-acoustic Minneapolis gigs allows Young to vary the set lists greatly from night to night — and to change venues relatively easily, too.
But why Minneapolis, a city Young hasn’t played in nine years and to which he has no known special connection? Young seemed to answer that himself with a personal note on his website when the Northrop show was confirmed, a few days after the first three.
“Minneapolis has an abundance of classic theaters,” read the note, which mentioned his one-night stops at historic halls in Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., earlier this week. “I really love those old theaters. They remind me of my early dreams of playing in real theaters for lots of people.”
Plenty of cities have numerous old theaters, though, including Chicago, where the promoter of these Minneapolis dates, Jam Productions, is based. What’s unique in Minneapolis is the close proximity of the Pantages, Orpheum and State, on a two-block stretch of downtown.
“They’re literally going to move his gear down the street after each show,” mused Lisa Krohn, Hennepin Theatre Trust’s director of theater programming.
Suffice it to say that Krohn and her crew are proud that Young chose their theaters for his unprecedented run (also a first for Hennepin Theatre Trust).
“This is sort of a one-stop-shop opportunity for Neil’s audience to sample and enjoy all three of these venues,” said Krohn. “They’re all similar in historic stature, but I think they all have their own unique vibe, too.”
“Historic” and “unique” sounds like a perfect fit for Neil Young.