QUEBEC CITY • It took him 72 years, but Neil Young finally made it to Quebec City.
The rock legend, who after the death of Leonard Cohen is perhaps Canada's most emblematic musician, played a high-powered, two-hour set before tens of thousands on the vast and historic Plains of Abraham park that extends westward from Quebec City last Friday night.
Young, who was born in Toronto, headed to the French-speaking province for Quebec City's summer festival, the Festival d'ete de Quebec, a rare public concert with low-priced tickets and a community feel.
"It's my first time here! I can't believe it or I can't remember," Young exclaimed at the end of his set with his energetic back-up band, the Promise of the Real, which features Willie Nelson's rocker son Lukas.
A day after the festival opened with another major Canadian star, The Weeknd, amid an unusually brutal heat wave, temperatures plunged sharply for Young, who took the stage in his trademark Stetson hat with a black T-shirt under a thick plaid shirt.
He kicked off with his 1982 song Like An Inca, with 10 minutes' worth of crackling guitars setting the tone for the evening. He did not wait long before ripping into his possibly best-known song, Rockin' In The Free World, which the left-leaning transplant to the United States released in 1989 as a critique of then-president George H.W. Bush.
The Festival d'ete de Quebec, in its 51st season, is drawing a slew of major acts including Foo Fighters, Lorde, Beck, Future, Camila Cabello and the Dave Matthews Band.
The organisers said it took some work to bring Young.
"It was difficult to persuade him. We had to tell him about the Plains of Abraham, our philosophy, our economic model and, finally, I succeeded," Mr Louis Bellavance, the programming director, said with a smile.