Neil Young announces return to stage with first headline show since 2019

Young will headline a benefit concert for autism awareness alongside Stephen Stills in April

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Neil Young will return to the stage in April, with the singer-songwriter announcing his first public headline performance since 2019.

Young will headline the sixth edition of the Light Up the Blues charity show at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on April 22, alongside his CSNY bandmate Stephen Stills. The benefit show – organised by Stills and his family since 2013 – raises money for autism awareness non-profit Autism Speaks. This year’s edition will also feature performances from Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real, a tribute to the late David Crosby by his son James Raymond, and more.

In a statement to Rolling Stone, Young confirmed his upcoming appearance. “We’ll be there to ‘Light Up the Blues’ with Stephen, [his wife] Kristen, and the family, doing our first show in four years with old friends for our autistic people around the world,” he said.


A week after Young headlines the Light Up the Blues benefit, he’ll perform as part of Willie Nelson‘s star-studded 90th birthday celebrations. Over two nights (April 29 and 30) at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, a line-up that includes Young, Nelson, Beck, Snoop Dogg, Kacey Musgraves, Orville Peck and many more will perform to mark Nelson’s nonagenarian milestone.

Young last performed in September 2019, headlining a benefit concert in Lake Hughes, California alongside Norah Jones and Father John Misty. Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in early 2020, Young has been an outspoken advocate for protections against the virus. That has included a reluctance to return to the stage for large concerts, even as many other artists began announcing tours and venues abandoned requirements such as masks.

Last year, Young said with a statement on his website that he would not be performing at that year’s edition of Farm Aid because of his concerns over COVID-19 transmission. “I am not ready for that yet. I don’t think it is safe in the pandemic,” Young said at the time. “I miss it very much.”

In 2021, Young also called on promoters to cancel “super-spreader” gigs while a pandemic was ongoing. “The big promoters, if they had the awareness, could stop these shows,” he wrote in a blog post on his site. “Live Nation, AEG, and the other big promoters could shut this down if they could just forget about making money for a while.”

Last year, Young also protested Spotify, pulling his music from the streaming service for platforming the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, which Young accused of spreading “false information about vaccines”.

The likes of Joni Mitchell, Crazy Horse guitarist Nils Lofgren and others withdrew their music from the platform in solidarity. In response to Young’s boycott, the streaming platform announced it would be adding content advisories to all relevant podcast episodes addressing the pandemic.

Originally published on NME

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