Neil Young and Crazy Horse were just one week into their 2003 summer tour when they arrived at Bonnaroo. Their rock opera Greendale was still two months away from arriving in stores, but that hadn’t stopped them from playing the entire thing to baffled crowds all over the country. The earliest shows featured all of Greendale (complete with actors portraying the characters) and a scant three or four old songs at the end. To say that some people left dissatisfied would be a real understatement.
Realizing that this kind of show might go over even worse at Bonnaroo, Young ditched Greendale for the festival and played a blazing 12-song set of classics instead. They opened with a jaw-dropping, 20-minute rendition of “Love to Burn,” and things just got better from there. “Cortez the Killer,” “Sedan Delivery” and “Down By the River” (which lasted 17 minutes) were particularly amazing. Bonnaroo co-founder Jonathan Mayers says it’s one of his favorite moments in the history of the festival. Here’s the complete two hour and twenty minute set.