Topic: Concert ReviewsThe new items published under this topic are as follows.
CONCERT REVIEW: Neil Young, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Sept. 23
By Sean Daly
Neil Young's creepy-cool solo gig in Clearwater last night was weird-o-rama. But really now: Did you expect anything else? The 64-year-old Canuck wandered to an arsenal of noisemakers (pump organ for "After the Gold Rush"!), a restless spirit in search of a mood-altering vibe. Wild stuff. Here's my review.
CLEARWATER — Neil Young has packed a cavalcade of clashing personalities into his 64 years: folk singer, rock star, surly activist, harvest-moon romantic. He is a man of myriad moods, of mercurial spikes. He has a voice made for Sundays and a mug made for breaking up bar fights, and you never know when the Canadian iconoclast will go surly or warble sweet nothings.
At a sold-out Ruth Eckerd Hall on Wednesday, in front of 2,180 well-heeled hippies vociferously ecstatic at seeing a major figure on a small stage, the solo Young was intense and brooding, but also crowd-pleasing and playful, mixing in sing-along hits with buzzy political cuts from new album Le Noise. It was a 90-minute who's-who of Young personae.
Keeping the audience off-balance but enthralled — I repeat: this was a odd yet strangely beautiful night — Young's first order of push-me-pull-you was inviting New Orleans piano legend Allen Toussaint as opening act. The 72-year-old charmer, his gray hair betraying his youthful fingers, gave a toe-tappin' tutorial in Crescent City boogie, from the playful notes of Java to the smirking lyrics of Mother-in-Law and Working in the Coalmine.
If Toussaint was a gracious, good-time host, Young was the lonesome stranger in from the cold. Opening with My, My, Hey, Hey (Out of the Blue) picked on an acoustic guitar, the restless rocker spent 90 minutes wandering about his spare stage — scattered amps, instruments, candles, a cigar-store Indian — with creepy-cool lighting cues pulsing where he roamed.
Helpless, from his Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young days, was also delivered unplugged, but the somber one-two of Peaceful Valley Blvd. and Love and War was chilly with reverb. Then it got even louder, the electric guitar crunching almighty on Down by the River, the drug-fueled cautionary tale of the new Hitchhiker and the still painfully relevant Ohio.
The show's eerie highlight was After the Gold Rush, as perfect a song as there is, delivered via a pump organ that hummed like a haunted calliope and sounded straight from some underwater realm, albeit one where people still feel "like getting high" (cue thunderous hippie-crowd approval).
Young didn't say a lot, although at one point he sat down at Toussaint's piano, rubbed it like a talisman and intoned, "Give me some of that, please."
But you could tell he was into it, unveiling Cinnamon Girl and Old Man with every muscle, as if he were being controlled by puppeteers. Young is an odd dude for sure, but he's endlessly fascinating — no matter who he happens to be.
Sean Daly can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life column runs every Sunday in Floridian.
By JIM FUSILLI
On his new album "Le Noise" (Reprise), out next week, Neil Young dispenses with all but his voice and guitar. "The guitar is the whole band," Mr. Young explained.
What remains isn't only Mr. Young singing alone with an acoustic guitar—something we've heard him do since the late '60s—but also, for the roaring rockers, his electric guitars, too. By eliminating the drums, bass and keyboards, producer Daniel Lanois presents Mr. Young's music as never before: brightened and clarified with discrete manipulation, with some added effects for show.
Earlier this month, the 65-year-old Mr. Young and Mr. Lanois—who is seven years Mr. Young's junior—were stationed in a hilltop restaurant amid the redwoods not far from Mr. Young's ranch, posing for photos alongside Mr. Young's sun- dappled, battery-powered 1959 Lincoln Continental.
The two artists first worked together 15 years ago on Emmylou Harris's "Wrecking Ball" album. Mr. Lanois, also a producer on that disc, told me the only compensation Mr. Young requested for those sessions was a new harmonica in the key of G.
Last year, after seeing Mr. Lanois's work in support of Black Dub, Mr. Young sought him out to produce his latest solo album. Then, in January, when Mr. Young's longtime film partner, L.A. Johnson, died suddenly, the singer turned to the producer to work on the album's accompanying DVD as well. We see Mr. Young performing at Mr. Lanois's home studio in Los Angeles, the black-and-white footage emphasizing the project's intent to present Mr. Young alone and in stark relief.
According to Mr. Lanois, the original plan was "to record and film Neil making an acoustic album." That plan changed as Mr. Young took out Old Black, his familiar 1953 Les Paul Goldtop, for "Hitchhiker"—a song he first recorded years ago but never released officially. At the next session, Mr. Young used his Gretsch White Falcon, a hollow-body electric. Then he left for a solo tour.
Back in the studio, Mr. Lanois realized he had an abundance of material. "I never thought about evaluating what we had until the end. Some were pillars that wouldn't budge—'Love and War' and 'Peaceful Valley Boulevard,'" he said, mentioning two of the folky tunes. "'Hitchhiker' was the key to the electric stuff."
They went back to work when Mr. Young returned from the road. "Neil kept bringing in songs that were undeniably strong," Mr. Lanois said. They settled on eight tracks.
Some of Mr. Lanois's handicraft was added later, as he tweaked a song's opening or altered Mr. Young's voice in a fade. He chopped up the recorded music of "Angry Words," then pasted the fragments back together—the only time, Mr. Young said, when the two labored over an arrangement. At other times, Mr. Lanois made decisions on the fly. In one track, he changed the tone of Mr. Young's guitar with each quarter note.
For the most part, though, we hear the familiar warmth of the White Falcon and the brutish muscle of Old Black that for decades Mr. Young conjured amid the tumult and turmoil of full-band performances.
With everything else removed, it's a different experience. For all the seemingly chaotic noise he makes when playing electric guitar, Mr. Young is meticulous, using precise effects to achieve what he's after. As a guitarist, he exploits his limitations so thoroughly that they've become his strengths.
Mr. Lanois called Mr. Young's electric guitar playing an "extreme excursion from one tone to another, from wet to bone-dry."
"Bob Dylan likes how I play my guitar," Mr. Young s
aid. "But he always says to me, 'How do you do that? How do you sing and makes those sounds?'
"I like the sound of an electric guitar when it feeds back. I like to use all those gizmos and combinations."
"Your secret is turning up loud and playing light," Mr. Lanois said from across the table.
"That's right," Mr. Young replied. "That makes it smaller and harsh. It really resonates." On "Le Noise," he added, "You feel the guitar. You hear the words, but you feel the guitar. The guitar is volcanic."
Asked if "Le Noise" had a lyrical theme, Mr. Young said no. But for the new album, he continues to consider the themes of mortality and aging, subjects he's been writing about recently with increasing frequency—natural enough for a man his age. Love and appreciation for family and friends is another reccurring motif. But Mr. Young said he never knows what his songs will be about until he's in the process of writing them.
Seeing Mr. Young up close in a new setting creates a new context for our relationship with his music. It may do so for some of his notable peers as well.
"What do you think Bob's going to think of this album?" Mr. Young asked Mr. Lanois, referring to Mr. Dylan, for whom he produced two albums.
"He's going to love it," Mr. Lanois replied with a wide grin.
Satisfied, Mr. Young nodded. "Yeah. He'll love it."
Mr. Fusilli is the Journal's rock and pop music critic. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @wsjrock
The falsettoed rock and roll legend was performing at the Panama City Marina Civic Center to kick of his six-city “Gulf Coast Tour” to benefit those affected by the BP oil spill. It just so happens three of our staff members graduated high school on that very stage, one of which (yours truly) witnessed his high school graduation rehearsal held up by a disgruntled student with a gun! (Luckily we were all sheltered from the powder and the finger.)
One of us couldn’t resist getting one of the high school pen and ink drawing tour shirts! Here’s a bad photo of it:
It was well worth the trip for us prodigal fans as Neil delivered a spirited and diverse set that featured tunes from throughout his 40+ year music career ranging from old classics like “Down By The River” and “Cinnamon Girl” to very recent tunes like “Love and War” and “.” In addition to the diverse timeline, Neil also took advantage of all the instruments on stage, which included numerous acoustic and electric guitars, the piano used by opener Allen Toussaint, his “Hurricane” pipe organ and a tack piano.
And speaking of Allen Toussaint, the New Orleans music legend owned the crowd with a charismatic opening performance of songs like “Happy Times,” “Whipped Cream,” “Working In A Coal Mine,” “Yes We Can Can” and a version of “Southern Nights” that included a spoken poetic recounting of Allen’s memories as a kid leaving the city to visit relatives in the country whose houses were “built old” and were all a “shotgun apart.” Unfortunately the mesmerizing narrative was cut short when Allen ran out of time, but the crowd had already been given more than enoguh to justify a rousing standing ovation.
After Allen left the stage, brother Neil Young took over wearing his Panama-style hat and matching light-colored suit. The crowd roared with applause but as soon as Neil hit the first note of “Hey Hey My My (Out Of The Blue)” the crowd was instantly silent. The rest of the evening was pure bliss.
By Jim Harrington
There might not be another rocker in the game that can deliver a more thrilling solo show than Neil Young.
He can just sit on a stool with an acoustic guitar in his hands and unleash one mesmerizing song after another. Then he'll move over to the piano or the organ—or, perhaps, grab an electric guitar—and the whole process repeats. His lyrics, so thoughtfully poetic and imaginatively accessible, tug at the heart and stimulate the brain with equal force.
Some of his selections, of course, are more effective than others, but nothing in his song book is without some kind of merit.
Indeed, there were moments of pure brilliance during his concert on Sunday—the first of three nights at the Fox Theater in Oakland. (Young will also perform Monday and Wednesday at the Fox, as well as Thursday at UC Davis.) That said, however, the capacity crowd was a bit shortchanged by the 64-year-old rocker.
It may have been Walt Disney that coined the phrase "Always leave them wanting more," but it's a motto that Young has apparently taken to heart when it comes to local audiences. For six years, he'd skipped over the Bay Area with his regular solo tours—since performing back in 2004 at the Berkeley Community Theatre—and only made brief appearances at his annual Bridge School Benefit concerts at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View.
Fox run, what they received was a mere 85-minute set. That's a paltry showing for the high ticket price, which topped out at $200 per ducat. A two-set offering, sans an opening act, would've been much more appropriate.
Young did, however, make the most of his time. He strolled out onstage in a very casual manner—dressed in well-worn jeans, a black T-shirt and a white hat and coat—sat down on a stool, grabbed his acoustic guitar and immediately jumped into "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)," from 1979's "Rust Never Sleeps." The rendition was powerfully hypnotic, full of haunting lines that have been sung, and heard, hundreds of times, yet still somehow achingly poignant.
He followed with another solo gem, "Tell Me Why" (from 1970's "After the Gold Rush"), before venturing into the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young oeuvre for "Ohio," a protest song that still manages to resonate 40 years after the killings at Kent State that inspired the lyrics. The mood brightened when Young performed one of his more humorous recent songs, "You Never Call," which boasts a lyric about the NHL's Detroit Red Wings that drew a loud "boo!" from all the San Jose Sharks fans in attendance.
Young was all business as he shuffled between two pianos, an organ and both electric and acoustic guitars. He barely spoke, but his songs said volumes to the fans that sang along—often in a fashion approaching a reverential whisper—to words that have meant so much to them over the years.
Young's voice, while far from being a technical marvel, conveyed an almost unbearable amount of emotion. That's how he was able to make such decades-old selections as "After the Gold Rush" and "I Believe in You" (also from "Gold Rush") sound so fresh. After closing the main set with a rollicking take on the classic "Cinnamon Girl" (from 1969's "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere"), which featured some of Young's most ferocious electric guitar work of the night, the star left the stage and then, as predicted, returned for an encore.
Since he'd only been onstage for 80 minutes, it seemed plausible that Young would deliver a lengthy encore. That didn't happen. It was only a one-song offering, of the new song "Walk With Me," and then he was gone again.
And, yes, he left us wanting more.
Neil Young in concert When and where: 8pm July 12 and July 14 at Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland; 8 p.m., Thursday at Mondavi Center, One Shields Ave., University of California, Davis
01:09 PM CDT on Tuesday, June 8, 2010
By MANUEL MENDOZA/Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
If the rattled walls of the Meyerson Symphony Center could talk, they might ask, “Who was that old guy raining buckets of distortion and feedback on us?” The answer is Neil Young, whose beautiful noise tested the limits of the hall normally reserved for unplugged strings.
Young, 64, has remained relevant while outlasting most of his 1960s peers. The semi-acoustic tour that brought him to Dallas on Monday night includes seven unreleased songs from his next album, the Daniel Lanois-produced Twisted Road. More than half were instant classics.
Despite a near-capacity crowd that kept declaring its admiration – “We’re so excited!” “Neil, you’re numero uno!” – Young was a man of few unsung words for most of his 95-minute set.
He opened with a trio of his folk-rock standards, “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue),” “Tell Me Why,” and “Helpless,” accompanying his vulnerable, expressive tenor on acoustic guitar and harmonica. He followed with three more acoustically rendered new tunes, two of which invoked the weather. Young’s music has become increasingly obsessed with climate change and other environmental issues, though here it was mostly metaphorical.
Threatening skies hovered over “You Never Call,” which could be about the 2004 death of his ex-partner Carrie Snodgress or maybe God. The song was dark and funny, Young dropping references to the Detroit Red Wings, In-n-Out Burger and online links.
The haunting “Peaceful Valley” concerned the white man’s ruination of the Indians – “Change hits the country like a thunderstorm” – which Young flecked with an Eastern-influenced guitar figure. Not to miss any taboo subjects, religion came up in “Love and War,” a self-referential epic during which he half-apologized for occasionally hitting “a bad chord” in his songs about the title subjects.
The show then reached its first peak when Young strapped on an electric guitar and returned to familiar ground. He began working a bank of effects, eliciting fuzz tones for a dynamic take on “Down by the River.”
For the rest of the night, he built on that distortion with barn-burning versions of “Hitchhiker,” “Ohio,” “Cortez the Killer,” “Cinnamon Girl” and the new “Walk with Me” while occasionally quieting down for numbers on piano (“I Believe in You” and the new nursery-rhyme-styled “Leia”), organ (a gorgeous “After the Gold Rush”) and acoustic guitar (the encore “Old Man”).
By Joe Gross | Sunday, June 6, 2010, 10:49 PM
Upon learning Neil Young was in Austin, a colleague texted me the following: “Wimpy Neil or Loud Neil?” (Note: wimpy is not a knock; he simply meant acoustic.)
As it turned out, both showed up at Bass Concert Hall Saturday night. In front of an occasionally entirely too enthusiastic crowd — there’s nothing louder and more entitled-sounding than let’s-call-them-longtime fans who’ve paid three figures for a ticket — Young alternated between new songs and old, guitar and keyboards, acoustic strum and electric fire.
Young’s hand-picked opener was a hero of his, a Scottish gentleman named Bert Jansch. Though well known in his own country and among guitar connoisseurs, Jasnch is a cult figure at best in the States, the co-founder of the British folk rock outfit the Pentangle and a man Young once called the Jimi Hendrix of acoustic guitar. Indeed he is - Jansch’s clawhammer-style picking creates spun-glass melodies, complicated and gorgeous, weaving together American blues and Anglo-Saxon folk. Jansch was one of the folk feast’s founders - his cult is devout for a reason.
But just as Jansch’s music was glorious in its fluid complexity, Young’s songs are extraordinary for their simplicity.
Opening with a trio of acoustic numbers, Young laid out his terms: rock music is eternal (“My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)”) as is longing (“Tell Me Why”) especially when combined with memory and beauty (“Helpless”).
He ratcheted up the sound on three new songs “You Never Call,” (Never thought we’d see the day when a Young song included the line “you send me a link,” but, well, here we are), “Peaceful Valley” and “Love and War” (his eternal topics), the bass string of his pickup-amplified acoustic bouncing around the room.
Most galvanizing were the electric numbers, classics such as “Down By the River” and the smashing “Cortez the Killer” reduced to their sapre, howling essence, raw like a fresh wound - “River” has rarely sounded sadder, “Cortez” more moving. The rarity “The Hitchhiker” stood stark and weird, a dark tale of drugs and more drugs.
“Ohio” was a crowd-pleaser, while “Sign of Love” and the encore-closing “Walk With Me” suggested Young has found next contexts and shapes for the gloriously unholy noises he can get out of his beloved guitar Old Black and it’s mate, the white Falcon, as if the feedback and fury from the “Arc/Weld” live era were shaped into rough songs. Elsewhere he moved to a pump organ for “After the Gold Rush” and to the piano for the light “Leia”. You think you’ve seen it all from the guy and he finds another ace in the deck. Wimpy? Loud? Like the man once said, it’s all one song.
Posted by Andrew Dansby at June 5, 2010 12:15 AM
A couple of years ago Neil Young issued a concert recording from a 1971 show at Massey Hall in Toronto. The concert included a bunch of songs from what would become his big seller, Harvest. But to that crowd the tunes were new that night.
Young brought his Twisted Road Tour to Jones Hall Friday night and similarly played an armful of new songs that were sandwiched among blocks of older favorites. The gig was billed as Neil Young solo, which was the case, though that didn't mean an acoustic evening with Young. He spent a substantial portion of the night vigorously strumming electric guitars.
For those wanting a trip back, Young opened with a trio of beloved tunes accompanied only by acoustic guitar and harmonica: Hey Hey My My, Tell Me Why and Helpless before moving into several new ones including You Never Call and Peaceful Valley. The latter paired with older ecologically-minded favorites like After the Goldrush to serve as a sort of indirect reaction to the ongoing BP oil spill.
The whole of the evening was a bit disjointed, thrilling at times, but Young's choice to workshed the new songs solo and electric seemed at times tentative. Still it was an assertive and bold way to test new songs that may or may not be forthcoming on a new album.
If you divvy musicians up into those you hear and those you feel, Young has often been a feel guy, working up tempestuous storms of sound with Crazy Horse, while finding a different more spartan groove with his acoustic fare. A straightforward revue of his old work would serve to position him as a hear artist, which seemed to be where the evening was headed at the outset.
The reference to Johnny Rotten in Hey Hey My My is no longer sneered, but rather breathed with something more like resignation by a guy who refused to burn out or fade away. Instead Young has stuck around without typical rock concessions to age. He's caught up with the old-as-time voice he had as a youthful singer but he still won't allow himself to be locked into yesterday.
Young didn't compromise when he did MTV's Unplugged 17 years ago. The show included his best recording to date of Mr. Soul and an inventive rethinking of Like a Hurricane along with a few tunes that hadn't gotten much attention in years. The tightness of the stage fit the performance, a pump organ being the most exotic texture.
Friday night his arsenal seemed too big, with several guitars and keyboards spread over the stage. The electric songs seemed the most jarring. Some worked others didn't. Down By the River (a favorite of mine) felt still without a rhythm section, where his playing on Ohio had the angular and forked beauty of aural lightning.
Still the keys seemed to mesh better with the quieter fare. A great trio of deep track/classic track/new track (Leia, After the Goldrush and I Believe in You) was a highlight.
Rumblin', which sounds like you'd expect from the title, broke the spell.
"Play something else you want," an audience member yelled. I couldn't tell if it was said with sincerity or anger. But when Young played Old Man and the new Walk With Me as his encore, I was relieved he hadn't resorted to nostalgia. He said it'd be a twisted road. And it's been that way for decades.
Opener Bert Jansch, a '60s guitarist of inestimable influence on rock, opened with a short but hypnotizing set of his impeccably picked bluesy folk that seems to be a point of reference for so many guitarists including Young, Nick Drake and especially Jimmy Page.
By Chris Gray, Monday, Jun. 7 2010 @ 10:00AM
Even Neil Young, whose lyrics are generally among the most unironic in rock and roll, has to grasp the irony of singing "Old Man" from the other side of the mirror. But as he's gone from "twenty-four and there's so much more" to "look at how the time goes past," the 64-year-old's solo set at Jones Hall made a convincing case that he's not going quietly into the black. Hardly.
Surrounded by a variety of guitars and keyboards, his only human company a handful of stage techs, Young cut a curious figure Friday. Lit by a single spotlight in the otherwise pitch-black and mostly sold-out hall, as he wandered from instrument to instrument between songs, he was an old man - not doddering or stumbling, but pensive, and certainly in no great rush.
Once he picked up a guitar or sat down at a keyboard, or blew his harmonica like a hurricane, that image instantly vanished. Young became the wizened tribal elder, imparting his shamanic wisdom through every cutting chord and photographic lyric, whether history lesson, elegy, confession or profession of faith.
"I sing about love and war," he sang on "Love and War," one of the handful of new songs in the set list. What was implied, and became clearer and clearer as the 90-minute set progressed, is how intertwined those two themes are in Young's work, how they always have been and continue to be.
After "Ohio," played on a hollowbody electric guitar, Young's riff as cold and metallic as the barrel of a National Guardsman's rifle, came the new "Sign of Love," which was even darker and more predatory. Love will do that to you. "I Believe In You," one of three from his 1970 album After the Gold Rush, was almost whisper-like, Young seated at a grand piano and singing with an intimacy that completely canceled out that instrument's majestic modifier.
Although the sentiment of "Cinnamon Girl," which closed the main set, is decidedly more cheerful than "Down By the River," its companion on Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere that opened Young's electric-guitar recital about a third of the way home Friday, both came in showers of needle-like reverb that slid directly under the skin, as unsettling as they were cleansing. Earlier, the high-lonesome "Helpless" and "You Never Call," a new song that stares down the Grim Reaper in the parking lot of an In N' Out Burger, were no less goosebump-raising for being played acoustically.
Young opened with the song that has been his mission statement since it was released on 1979's Rust Never Sleeps, "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)." An hour and a half of love and war later, after referencing Buffalo Springfield's "Mr. Soul" on the new electric-blues invitation "Walk With Me," he was done. For the evening, at least. The old man waved at the wildly applauding crowd a few times and wandered into the black of backstage, burning brightly for 90 minutes and leaving an impression that may never fade away.
Thx 2 c.
This video of Neil playing "Lost in Space" at the Mile One Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland was recently posted on Rust so I thought I'd share it here with my fellow Zumans to enjoy:
The Boston Globe
Neil Young keeps on rockin'
By James Reed, Globe Staff | December 16, 2008
WORCESTER - You think you know Neil Young by now, and then he plays a show that leaves you slack-jawed by his conviction to shake things up. Young has released several live recordings over the years, but none of them could have foretold the onslaught of raw energy and guitar heroics he unleashed at the DCU Center Saturday night.
When Young performed a three-night stand at the Orpheum Theatre last year, the idea was that you sat and listened to him as he pulled acoustic guitars from a stand right beside him. At the DCU Center, Young was clearly there to rock out, thrashing through a two-hour-plus set that struck a good balance between the classics ("Old Man," "Heart of Gold," "The Needle and the Damage Done") and newer material ("Spirit Road," the unreleased "Just Singing a Song Won't Change the World").
Young, 63, was relentless in the heavy distortion and feedback he coaxed from his battered guitars as he dived headlong into the opening "Love and Only Love," which led to "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" and "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere."
Giant video screens occasionally zoomed in on Young's face scrunched into a scowl as he worked out expansive, and rather experimental, guitar solos. In jeans and a paint-splattered blazer, featuring a "Hippies for Obama" button, he looked self-possessed, playing with the zeal of an 18-year-old who just rediscovered his electric guitar in the closet.
He let up just a bit with the sublime "Oh, Lonesome Me," sliding on an acoustic guitar and harmonica. A brooding, 13-minute take on "Cortez the Killer" morphed into various shades of melodic noise, the perfect set-up for "Cinnamon Girl."
Young got behind a massive organ for a poignant rendition of "Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)," an eco-friendly hymn that seems even more relevant today than when it appeared on 1990's "Ragged Glory": "Respect Mother Earth/ And her healing ways/ Or trade away/ Our children's days."
Perhaps to prove his point, Young kept resuscitating the ending of "Rockin' in the Free World," starting up the chorus again and again to comic effect. In a truly surreal encore, Young and his tight band returned to play the Beatles' "A Day in the Life," which was nearly unrecognizable as they worked themselves into a psychedelic fever pitch. Deep into a punishing solo, Young finally reduced his electric guitar to a pile of broken guitar strings and looked pleased by what he had done.
Young was so vital, so intense, that he completely eclipsed his opening acts. On paper, Wilco seemed like the perfect band to get the night rolling, but the country-rockers tended to play it a little safe on fan favorites "Forget the Flowers" and "I'm the Man Who Loves You." And Everest, as promising as it was, seemed swallowed whole by the arena setting that Young would later galvanize.
James Reed can be reached at jreed # globe.com
By Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune
11 December 2008, Chicago Tribune (MCT)
Dec. 11--Neil Young took Old Black on a tour of his songbook Tuesday at the Allstate Arena, and the two longtime friends cut through a winter chill and a half-full arena with razorlike intensity.
Old Black is Young's 1953 Gibson Les Paul guitar, and like Willie Nelson's Trigger and B.B. King's Lucille, it is his second voice. Young hunched over the instrument as if communing with it. He shut his eyes, stomped his feet and shook the strings at the amplifiers, a shamanlike figure in the throes of a transforming ritual.
Wearing a jacket that looked as if it had been splattered by Jackson Pollock's paintbrush and commanding a stage that resembled a funky garage sale in progress, Young dived right into a chasm of six-string noise on the opening "Love and Only Love."
The first section of the show brimmed with Young epics, none more riveting than "Cortez the Killer." The slow, mournful intro telegraphed the tragic tale of an ancient civilization wiped out by colonizing warriors. As Young sang, "I still can't remember where or how I lost my way," the tear in his voice brought a roar of empathy from the audience. Then Young turned things over to Old Black. She sputtered to life and spat out the anger underlying the lyrics. The vision of galleons dancing across the water turned into a nightmare of blood and enslavement. It was epic storytelling, the eloquence of voice and guitar inseparable.
Young's band played a critical role. Chad Cromwell brought a slightly busier approach to the drums than Young usually gets from his Crazy Horse crony Ralph Molina, and this brought a surging energy to "Cowgirl in the Sand" and "Hey Hey, My My." The backing vocals of Pegi Young and Anthony Crawford were fairly high in the mix, and added a layer of pop sweetness atop Young's rough-edged arrangements on "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" and "Spirit Road."
The middle section of the show was devoted to primarily acoustic material, plus a solo version of "Mother Earth" at the pipe organ that rang out like a hymn. Young also unveiled the first and most impressive of several new songs, "Light a Candle," a beautiful ode to perseverance: "There's something ahead worth fighting for."
There were more new songs to follow, normally cause for celebration among the Young faithful. But this batch ranged from pedestrian social commentaries "Just Singing a Song" and "Sea Change" to the lurching vamp "When Worlds Collide." Another fresh tune, "Fuel Line," was written from the perspective of an electric car, the kind of gimmick that might've found its way onto one of Young's less distinguished 1980s album.
A typically vicious "Rockin' in the Free World" closed the main set, with Old Black machine-gunning a thousand points of light. The encore routed the Beatles' "A Day in the Life" through Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale," with Ben Keith's towering church organ. Young momentarily flubbed a lyric, but quickly recovered. His trusty guitar, after all, was close at hand.
:: Toronto Star, thestar.com/entertainment/article/54888
Rockin' it in the free world
Dec 05, 2008 04:30 AM, Ben Rayner, Pop music critic
Let's give the edge to the homegrown hero in this week's Battle of the Neils at the Air Canada Centre, shall we? Winnipeg expat Neil Young assumed a two-night residency at the ACC last night, hot on the heels of a pair of Neil Diamond shows on Tuesday and Wednesday.
They're two very different types of musician, obviously, but they're close enough in age - Young is 63, Diamond is 67 - with the sort of enduring popularity that can still fill an NHL hockey rink, so a little comparison isn't out of order. Not least because there was obviously some crossover in the crowds - the very nice chap next to me had taken his 75-year-old mother to see Diamond the night before - and because they represent the two different paths an artist can follow into the latter years of his career.
Diamond's totally entertaining and an utter pro. But the years have polished his performances to a dapper sheen where nothing's left to chance (not even his camera-cued positions onstage) and not a note slips out of place. Neil Young, on the other hand, is the more human proposition, perpetually dishevelled, prone to battering jagged fits of noise from his guitar and fronting a band for whom adhering faithfully to five decades' worth of material means playing it languid and slightly slapdash and lazing just slightly behind the beat. Young is just more real.
Considering the guy's last ACC show was the bizarre amateur theatre production he staged in support of Greendale, mind you, this was Young in fairly populist mode. Rocking, too. The opening half of the set was chockablock with guitar-grind standards such as "Love and Only Love," "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere," "Powderfinger," "Cinnamon Girl" and a long-fused "Cortez the Killer," along with the winning new tune "Spirit Road."
Young manned a pipe organ for a dip into quieter territory on "Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)," but the crowd responded to the run of more acoustically flavoured material that followed - "Heart of Gold" and "Old Man" - with the same fervour it accorded Loud Neil. As well it should have. The guy's as good as it gets.
Here's one from the Toronto Sun: http://www.torontosun.com/entertainment/columnists/jane_stevenson/2008/12/05/7640916-sun.html
By Bernard Perusse
Talk about peaking early - and sustaining.
Neil Young, only two songs into his two-hour-plus set at the Bell Centre Monday night, roared out a blistering version of Hey, Hey, My, My (Into the Black) and reminded a packed house that it's better to burn out than to fade away. Everyone sang along, as if the sentiment were self-evident, but the joke is that Young has lived to eat those words - much as Pete Townshend has had to shrug off "Hope I die before I get old."
Young did not burn out. He is, at 63, fading away. But there's no sadness in that, let alone defeat. In fact, great beauty lies in his refusal to fade away gracefully. That meant everything Monday, when Young's emphatic yes to rock'n'roll at its most primal seemed a yes to life itself. By the time he throttled his guitar in a spectacular Rockin' in the Free World and pulled out every string on his instrument at the end of his (literally) show-stopping cover of the Beatles' A Day In the Life, the line between entertaining and inspiring had been crossed long ago.
The stage had been set and the bar raised by the two opening acts. Los Angeles-based Everest showed it is one of the year's promising acts, while Wilco brilliantly executed fan favourites.
As the lights went down for the last time at 9:20, peals of feedback - is there anyone in rock who loves it more than Young? - announced the opening chords of Love and Only Love. All it took was a trademark choppy opening guitar solo from Young and drummer Chad Cromwell dumbing it all down with a Crazy Horse backbeat, and the rules of the game changed instantly. It was Neil's world.
It was also his first Montreal appearance in 12 years, in front of 11,500 people (the Bell Centre's official count, although it sure seemed like more). To celebrate the long-awaited return, the emphasis was on uncompromising rockers like the ever-vital Powderfinger, the garage-band classic Cinammon Girl (still the greatest one-note solo of all time) and the crowd-pleasing jams in Cowgirl in the Sand, all of which had bassist Rick Rosas working furiously.
But fans of Young's mellower, acoustic-based material were also given a treat in a show that deftly combined the sweet and the salty. About an hour into the concert, Young's acoustic guitar came out for the Don Gibson evergreen Oh, Lonesome Me, which he first covered in 1970. An unplugged segment ensued, featuring guaranteed singalongs like Heart of Gold and Old Man. Longtime Young accompanist Ben Keith on pedal steel guitar, multi-instrumentalist Anthony Crawford and Young's wife, Pegi, on vocals and piano, shone during this thoughtfully paced sequence.
As the electric axes were retrieved and the amplifiers turned back up, the meaning of the show became clearer. It wasn't really about musicianship: Young has a distinctive vocabulary on his instrument, but he's no guitar virtuoso. Nor was it about presentation, although the guy painting canvases on stage was a nice touch. A clue came with the title of one of three excellent new songs in the set list, the mid-tempo rocker Just Singing a Song (Won't Change the World).
It's a provocative song title for rock evangelists, but we know Young's right. His greatest gift lies in making us hope that he's wrong.
This could go down as one of the top 5 Neil shows of all time in my opinion. Having seen well over 100+ performances of Neil's over the course of more than 30 years, this band is truly special. My recollection is that this is the "Restless" from back in 1989. I saw Neil Young & The Restless at the Eureka Memorial Auditorium in '89, and it was truly one of the top 5 Neil shows of all time.
Last night was no exception. Neil pulled out all the stops, and didn't hold back in any way. Highlights of the show were Oh Lonesome Me, Cowgirl In The Sand, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Love & Only Love, Cortez the Killer, and last night's encore, A Day In The Life. Typically, I am no fan of covers. But Neil pulled this one off well. Oh Lonesome Me is a cover too, but a well known Neil tune. Neil must've played for nearly 2 1/2 to 3 hours. We didn't get out of there until nearly midnight.
Everest, the first opening act, was actually really good. Death Cab for Cutie was horrible. People couldn't wait for them to get off the stage.
The venue was basically general admission, standing only. There were reserved seats around the floor, which held easily 4,000 - 5,000 people.
The show was sold out. There were quite a few hardcore fans there, and we all agreed that this was one of Neil's most notable performaces.
Interestingly, a couple years back, Neil commented that he couldn't believe how many people lived here. CSNY played Tahoe, and it was sold out. He wanted to know where did all the people come from. We told him that most of us sought refuge from the Bay Area, and there are just a lot of people living here. This was during a pre-show warmup which we were enjoying. At the time, he was incredibly excited over the energy of the crowd here. Last night was no different. The crowd was totally electrified by Neil, and you could tell he was totally into the energy of the crowd.
>>> are on Human-Highway.org.
Thanks a lot to Hans Dekker!
The great man ambled on to stage dressed in a cream suit, looking like he had slept in it for the last few nights. This being the final night of his London performances expectations were high and the accoustic set successfully wet the audience's appetite.
The 25 minute intermission to prepare the main course was necessary and allowed the audience containing a large number of baby boomers (and I swear some of their mum's and dad's)an opportunity to discuss the pro's and con's of the accoustic set which had opened with From Hank to Hendrix and concluded with Old Man to continued rapturous applause.
The intermission over Neil and his band appeared on stage and launched into the electric set with The Loner reaching new heights with renditions of Spirit Road, Powderfinger and No Hidden Path. All to soon the set was complete and the encores including The Sultan were greedily swallowed up by the audience whose appetite appeared sated for the time being.
The only disappointment to many being the fact that Like a Hurricane and Cortez the Killer were not included in the final night's set.
Those not there to witness Neil Young and his band rocking Hammersmith Apollo to it's core can take some satisfaction that this European tour continues. Do yourselves a favour BUY THAT TICKET now.
By Richard Godwin, Evening Standard 14.03.08
On song: Neil Young's voice is as good as ever
"Old man take a look at my life, I'm a lot like you" sang Neil Young in 1972. When he sings it again in 2008, he could be channelling his younger self, peeping from the past at his own 62-year-old frame.
Despite the monkish bald patch, the years etched on his owlish face and the rich man's guitar collection that now surrounds him, Neil Young the old man is a lot like he was back in 1972.
I arrived at the Apollo last Thursday pre-disappointed by experience of watching ageing legends, of Bob Dylan's wheezing and Brian Wilson's jittering. The merchandise stalls and grey heads that attend these events never put me in the best frame of mind. So how glorious-to hear just how well preserved Young's voice remains as he struck up From Hank to Hendrix. It's the same keening treble that it ever was, still conjuring highways and horses, heartache and heaven.
He's not the most technically adept guitar player, but that's never what counts. Young knows what a guitar is for. He's never afraid to conclude a phrase on an unmoored minor chord where most songwriters would opt for the happy resolution of a major. And now, even when he stretches out Down by the River to a 20-minute squall in the electric second half, it's never lazy noodling, more like a quest.
Shambling bear-like around the stage, warming up his harmonica, barely uttering a word, Young still cuts a fascinatingly outsider-ish figure. It's a position that allowed him to bypass the coked-up pomposity of his former cohorts, Crosby, Stills and Nash; that earned him the respect of the first wave of punks in the Seventies and the grunge artists of the early Nineties; that makes his strung-out 1973 album Tonight's the Night my favourite by anyone ever.
So: a triumphant return? Young always hated the idea of a comeback.
In 1992, he looked at his contemporaries cashing in on a wave of Sixties nostalgia and shuddered: "The music the Stones and The Who play now has nothing whatsoever to do with rock 'n' roll. Spiritually, it's all Perry Como. But I never went away. I just did other things."
When you're out of time in the first place, you don't need to worry about things like relevance.
thanks go to the mystery reporter.
I'm loving this tour. I think it is among the very best tours he has done after the 1978 Rust Never Sleeps tour (Aug 1988 Bluenotes, early 1989 Restless, the December 1989 semi-solo shows, 1996 OPL/Catalyst run, and the 1999 solo tour are the other really good ones for me). The 1976 style acoustic/electric set works well. This tour is superb for the casual fan and great for the fanatics. I've overheard people coming out of the shows in the Northwest, New York and now London commenting it was the best Neil young show they'd ever seen.
Tonight (March 8th) was just wonderful. To see the two Springfield songs and then Journey Through The Past paired with Love In Mind all in one night was a real surprise. Spirit Road and particularly Down By The River were top notch tonight. Electric Too Far Gone sounds so natural. I love the pure Old Black tone on that tune. Roll Another Number looks like a standard on paper, but it's got Ben Keith playing pedal steel as he did on the original TTN version. Ambulance Blues and Oh, Lonesome Me have been nearly perfect every show. The impact of Ambulance Blues is hard to describe unless you've been there. Neil takes total control of the show with that song.
Needless to say - I like this tour.
thx to tah
9 March 2008
The Mail on Sunday
Old rockers become less prolific with age, often taking five or even ten years between albums. They have better things to do, obviously - attending investitures, pursuing their children's friends, advertising expensive luggage ...
Neil Young, who always was his own man, has gone the other way. In the past three years he has released four new albums and three live ones. All this after being treated for a brain aneurism in March 2005. How much would he have done if he had been hale and hearty?
His oeuvre is monumental now: 40 studio albums, 32 of them solo, eight with his old bands - Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. His concerts are epics, too. He comes on at 8.35 and doesn't finish till 11.40. Behind him, an artist silently paints at an easel and by the end he has a whole exhibition's worth of canvases.
Young takes a half-hour breather in the middle and I'd love to know what he uses i! t for. Full-body massage? Electroshock therapy? A stiff drink or a large spliff? Because he returns a different man.
For 70 minutes, he has given a solo, acoustic set, satisfying but sedentary. He gets up only to switch from guitar to piano and his movements are slow and sore.
With his fretful air and battered linen suit, he is more like an author than a rock star. He looks every one of his 62 years; only his voice, soft and high and piercingly pure, is forever Young.
His fans, who have a deep possessive affection for him that goes beyond the merely fanatical, spend the interval debating how this wounded bear will cope with the demands of the hard-rock songs to come. They needn't have worried: when he resurfaces, the years have been rolled back.
Young now has a five-piece band, a sharper suit - dark, and defiantly spattered with paint - and a sudden ability to stand up. He even moves to the beat, rocking steadily back and forth, like a perfectly fit bear. And he makes a tremendous noise: the sound of well organised thunder.
He didn't get where he is today by being a great editor of his own stuff, so there are longeurs in both sets, and puzzling omissions (The Needle And The Damage Done, Only Love Can Break Your Heart).
But it's a price worth paying for the moments of magic: the sweet crunch of From Hank To Hendrix, the riveting simplicity of Harvest, the rumbustious passion of Spirit Road, and the final, surging uplift of Like A Hurricane.
On My My, Hey Hey, he puts a touch of ferocity into his most famous line: 'It's better to burn out than to fade away.' Well, maybe, but better still to keep the fire blazing for 40 years.
BY PETE CLARK
6 March 2008, The Evening Standard
YOU KNOW you're at a Neil Young concert when the queue for the gents snakes back into the bar. Here is an audience of geezers of a certain age, all full of beer and desperate to get rid of it before the great man takes the stage.
It's been five years since Young played London and the anticipation is feverish. I had it on good authority that no drinks were to be allowed in the auditorium because he did not want that. Stern warnings were broadcast about the use of mobile phones. Young, however it may have seemed at the time, was never an old hippy.
The first part of his set was performed solo on acoustic guitar and keyboards. There was a man in the background painting pictures, but we might as well draw a discreet veil over that. Young said nothing to the audience yet managed to dominate the stage with his presence. He played a sensational version of A Man Needs A Maid in the style of Phantom Of The Opera. A girl s! houted: 'How's Stephen Stills?' The silence was deafening.
Finally, Young managed to say hello and admit that it was nice to be back. He rambled on about meeting Jesus Christ last time round, but swiftly redeemed himself with a scorching take on Cowgirl In The Sand. He is a curious performer, a big man with all the grace of a lightly stunned bear.
Surrounded by a choice of instruments, he looked like a faintly bewildered man in a guitar shop. After a decent interval, Young picked up an electric guitar and started to play. He may not have the most extravagant technique in the world, but this man knows how to extract pain and longing from a piece of wood. Down By The River is a song about murder and mayhem, and by the time he has finished with it, you feel like giving yourself up to the nearest policeman.
Having started with the plaintive notes of an acoustic guitar, Young began to test the acoustic limits of his audience with! some p rofound meditations on the delights of feedback and distortion. When he has a black Les Paul in his hand, he is the devil. Powderfinger laid waste to the front rows. Cinnamon Girl, a deceptively cheery ditty, wound up in a nuclear reactor. Just so that everyone would go home happy, he finished with Like A Hurricane. Which was like a hurricane.
This was not a concert without blemish, although it did pass off without the political comment which characterised his last London shows. There were songs that should never have been included, and songs that were carelessly omitted. On a brighter note, opening the entertainment was Pegi Young. It's always nice when your wife supports you.
Von Michael Pilz
Neil Young - Lasst wohlbeleibte Gitarren um ihn sein!
Wo Neil Young musiziert, lässt man sich gern nieder. Sogar in einer scheußlichen Halle wie dem Berliner ICC. Der kanadische Musiker gibt ein einziges, großartiges Deutschlandkonzert, er spielt erst alleine Folksongs und später mit Band. Man kann sogar die deutsche Flagge auf der Bühne erkennen.
Zum freitäglichen Neil Young-Konzert in Wien.
Der alte Mann, der da in der 1. Halbzeit seines Auftritts im Austria Center, dessen Atmosphäre ohnehin an ein Fußpilz-Symposion gemahnt, auf die Bühne trat, wirkte verloren, ein wenig disloziert, derangiert, als ob ihm nach jedem Stück, das er auf Akustik-Gitarre, Banjo, Piano oder Organ darbot, aufs Neue entfallen wäre wo er sich wozu befinde.
:: Neil in Vienna, reviewed by FM4
thanx 2 FrankB
14 December 2007, The News Journal
Surrounded by a tight circle of seven guitars and a banjo, and wearing a frumpy, paint-stained suit, a slimmed-down Neil Young spent the first hour of his 2 1/2-hour show on Sunday alone, jumping from guitar and banjo ("Mellow My Mind") to a white piano splashed with pink and yellow ("A Man Needs a Maid") and a faded wooden organ ("Journey Through the Past").
His harp was never far behind, with Young accompanying himself on nearly every song.
With a Martin guitar once owned by Hank Williams cradled in his arms, Young's second song of the night, the sprawling ballad "Ambulance Blues" from 1974's "On the Beach," set the bar high for the rest of the show at the Tower Theatre in Upper Darby, Pa., as he adeptly made his way through the 12-verse mind tease. "It's easy to get buried in the past," he sang, foreshadowing the rest of the evening.
While Young gave the sold-out crowd gentle versions of his most well-known songs ("Harvest," "After the Goldrush"), his decision to include a trio of older, unreleased songs is what has given this tour â€“ which continues tonight at the Tower â€“ a special aura.
By Dan Aquilante
14 December 2007
New York Post
GRANDPA Granola was in a heap o' trouble Wednesday night. It was an hour past showtime, and the audience was still huddled outside the United Palace Theater on the sidewalk at 175th Street and Broadway.
The crowd's angry grumbles combined with chattering teeth as fire marshals and police squawked about whether the Neil Young show could go on because of a gremlin in the emergency lighting system.
Just as the plug was about to get pulled on the first of Young's six-show residency at the uptown, broke-down Palace, the problem was fixed and the fiasco transformed into one of the top concerts of the year.
Although miffed, Young kept his humor, telling the sold-out house who finally got inside: "Sorry you were inconvenienced for a bull- s - - - reason - enough said about it . . . unless I catch on fire."
In fact, he did catch fire: first in an hourlong solo set, where he worked old and new songs on an arsenal of acoustic guitars - and then later on, with a full band in an exquisite electric set.
The clear-cut acoustic classics were the haunting guitar and harmonica versions of "Old Man," followed by "Heart of Gold." Both were concert highlights, and both songs gained depth and poignancy from his gray hair, weathered face and musical maturity.
While the acoustic material was pretty and clean, it was during his electric excursion that he excelled. His dusty 1969 country-rock tune "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere," was rollicking, and he found a deep groove in material from his just-released "Chrome Dreams II."
Two and a half hours of music, which bowed with an encore that included "Cinnamon Girl" and "Like a Hurricane," rubbed out any chill left over from the shaky concert start.
By BEN RATLIFF
14 December 2007
The New York Times
Late Edition - Final
Neil Young's current tour plants him in smaller and older theaters than he is used to. Last week's stop in Boston was at the Orpheum Theater, a 2,800-seater; this week's sold-out six-show run in New York, which started on Wednesday, is at the United Palace Theater, with a capacity of 3,300. (At Madison Square Garden, where he played in 2003, he filled about four times that many seats.) He plays an acoustic set and an electric set each night, letting fewer people listen more closely, weighing the physical power of sound over his own convenience and, perhaps, business sense.
''Do something to me, don't make me wait,'' he sang on Wednesday in ''Old Movies,'' an unreleased song from the mid-1970s. ''Jab something through me, don't cut out the good things I appreciate.'' It's about the body thrill of watching movies in dark theaters -- even ''bad movies that make you wonder why you ever came.''
It was appropriate for a gig at the United Palace Theater, the rococo extravaganza in Washington Heights that was a Loew's movie house before the evangelist Reverend Ike bought it for his Christ Community United Church in 1969. But it could have been about the rhythm of the show on that particular night: what happened at the beginning and at the end.
The doors were set to open at 7, and the opening act, Mr. Young's wife, Pegi, was scheduled at 8. But a minor fire-code violation kept the doors closed until 9, on a cold night. So, no Pegi Young. Before her husband appeared, a voice pleaded over the speaker system: ''Neil has preselected the set list. Please help him to concentrate by trying to pay attention to the songs.'' But nobody was in the mood to be asked for favors, and the audience eventually ignored the request, beerily yelling out song titles.
Acoustic came first, and it was a strong set, heavy on the mid-'70s, some songs seldom played: ''Ambulance Blues,'' ''A Man Needs a Maid,'' ''No One Seems to Know,'' ''Harvest,'' ''Mellow My Mind,'' ''Love Art Blues.'' Surrounded by a circle of guitars as well as a tack piano and a regular piano positioned on either side of the stage, and wearing paint-splattered clothes, he had the body language of casual deliberation, even though the tour's set list has been fairly similar from night to night.
It was a good set, more judicious than similar ones I've seen, with beautiful sound. But he was puttering, and when he sang that nostalgic, philosophical line about sitting in the audience and waiting for a jab, he spoke for some of us at that moment.
The jab was delivered by Mr. Young's black 1953 Gibson Les Paul with an aluminum pick guard and a Bigsby vibrato bar -- the instrument he calls Old Black -- and his small Fender Deluxe amplifier. He changed guitars for almost every song throughout the evening, but for the last four songs Old Black stayed constant.
There were a few eccentric stage details. A painter set up a different oil-on-canvas on a large easel to announce each song, completing some paintings at the back of the stage while the music played. Mr. Young picked up a red telephone at one point between songs, pretending to take a call. With a small band -- not Crazy Horse, but Crazy Horse-like, with the drummer Ralph Molina, the bassist Rick Rosas and Ben Keith on steel and rhythm guitar, as well as Pegi Young and Anthony Crawford singing harmony vocals -- Mr. Young first lingered a little longer in the '70s (''Oh Lonesome Me,'' ''Bad Fog of Loneliness,'' ''The Loner,'' ''Winterlong''), then played a few songs from his new record, ''Chrome Dreams II'' (Reprise). But it was all pretty mild, even the snarling, proud-to-be-a-loser ''Dirty Old Man,'' compared with the finishing stretch.
Here came the body thrills. What did Old Black sound like? The same as always: something loud and indistinct and far away, like a foghorn on an enormous boat as heard from the shore. Hearing this sound in a giant arena or an outdoor festival makes sense: one comes to think that it needs that much space. It doesn't. Up close, with all the sonic detail, it was fascinating, more physical. Mr. Young's alterations to the sound -- manipulating the vibrato bar, shaking the guitar or moving it like an oar -- made it clear that the sound was all part of him, and more personal at close range.
LAST NIGHT IN NEW YORK
13 December 2007
New York Daily News
IT'S SAFE TO SAY THAT many of those who race to see Neil Young 40 years into his career have seen him before. So it's refreshing that, on the icon's latest tour, he's setting aside many of his most acclaimed pieces to showcase material from the margins.
For the first song of his six-night stint at the United Palace Theater in Washington Heights, which began last night, Young chose "From Hank to Hendrix," a 15-year-old rarity from "Harvest Moon." The piece, about trying to make a long relationship last, could just as easily have addressed Young's connection to his fans. Their loyalty was rewarded with a set geared toward those who have been paying close attention.
Young mixed up his presentation of the music as well, first offering a well-curated solo acoustic set, then an electric one. The sound at the United Palace flattered the softer songs, just as its eccentric, rococo design mirrored Young's musical quirks. Those on display here ranged from a psychedelically hued exhale of cynicism like 1974's "Ambulance Blues" to the more romantically jaunty "Mellow My Mind." Some better- known songs also peeked through, like "Old Man" and "Heart of Gold."
In the second set, Young switched on the electricity in every sense, barreling through the protogrunge riffs of "The Loner" or the country-rock chords of "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere." In a lesser-known song, "Dirty Old Man," Young displayed his wily connection to punk. Even in his more animated set, Young could be graceful, as in the ballad "Winterlong."
The careful selection of songs emphasized the thematic links, stressing commitment, alienation and dreams. They're the kind of themes made to be sung by someone of experience. So, in a way, the 62-year-old who sang them last night had an even greater right to them than the younger man who wrote them. Given their all-too-rare airing, the songs' lived-in emotions sounded fresher, and truer, than ever.
10 December 2007
At age 62, he delivered a powerful and thought-provoking show at the Chevrolet Theatre in Connecticut Friday night.
WALLINGFORD, Conn. - He's as unpredictable as he is uncontrollable and that's worked for Neil Young throughout his life.
So don't expect him to change now.
The ever-evolving rock'n'roll survivor delivered a thoughtful, career-spanning performance of well-known classics, new songs and deep obscurities Friday, while playing for a full house at the Chevrolet Theatre (formerly The Oakdale).
Always playfully cantankerous, at 62, Young seems to be getting even more quirky, and there were several ground rules made clear to the crowd before he took the stage. Contrary to the theatre's typical policy, fans were not allowed to bring any type of beverage from the lobby into the concert hall, "As per the artist's request." Plenty of people ignored the artist's request.
Secondly, it was announced prior to the show that all cellphones, cameras, etc. had to be turned off before Young took the stage. That actually makes a lot of sense for far too many reasons to go into here, but the announcer blamed it on potential interference with the audio equipment, which is highly debatable. Plenty of people were seen ignoring that rule as well during the show.
Lastly, the audience was warned not to distract Young by calling out any requests. Again, a reasonable request, though some who paid significant money for tickets might argue that without being disruptive they should be able to call out for whatever song they want. So, a few in the crowd ignored that rule too.
Nevertheless, with the three ground rules firmly established, Young emerged, first for a 55-minute, 11-song solo acoustic set, and then after an intermission for a fully charged, full band, 75-minute, 12-song electric workout.
This is a fun tour for Young. He's focusing on his current album, "Chrome Dreams II," but he's also digging pretty deep into his overflowing back catalog. He opened with the nostalgic, harmonica-backed "From Hank to Hendrix," slipped into a long "Ambulance Blues," then to the more obscure, unreleased "Sad Movies."
"Where are we?" he deadpanned to the audience after the song. "It must be a rural area. I see farms, houses. It's a nice place though."
Young switched to a piano for the stripped-down beauty "A Man Needs A Maid," and though his voice was stretched thin on some of the high notes, it still gave the set a lift, and he proceeded to delve through tracks including "Harvest," "After the Gold Rush," and the banjo-backed "Mellow My Mind."
He closed the acoustic portion of the concert with the triad of "Love Art Blues," a strong and resonant "Old Man," and one of his biggest early hits, "Heart of Gold."
The stage set was intriguing, built to resemble an abandoned theatre. It included a gentleman in the back who looked as if he was painting. Before each song, he would bring a new canvas and mount it on an easel on the side of the stage, artistically depicting the upcoming song title.
After intermission, Young returned, accompanied by three of his longtime backing musicians, Ben Keith on guitar, pedal steel guitar and other instruments, Rick Rosas on bass and Ralph Molina on drums. Young's wife Pegi, who opened the show, sang background vocals as did Anthony Crawford.
They kicked in with "Don't Cry No Tears," a gritty "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere," and the twin guitar driven classic "The Loner," which dates back to Young's first solo album.
He then tackled several selections from his newly-released "Chrome Dreams II," banging it in with the rowdy "Dirty Old Man," and the surging "Spirit Road," before turning back the clock to "Bad Fog of Loneliness," which recently showed up on his archival release "Live at Massey Hall 1971."
Later, after Don Gibson's "Oh, Lonesome Me," and the light pop of "The Believer," Young delivered a raging, hypnotic, 20-minute plus take of "No Hidden Path."
The songwriter then re-emerged to encore with the forever young "Cinnamon Girl," and one of his far-too-frequently forgotten masterpieces "Cortez The Killer."
Pegi Young's 40-minute opening set was politely received and featured tracks from her recently released self-titled debut.
CUTLINE: (COLOR) Neil Young performed Friday night at the Chevrolet Theatre in Wallingford, Conn.
By Dan DeLuca
Inquirer Music Critic
11 December 2007
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Ferocious hippie that he (still) is, Neil Young spent his first hour on stage at the Tower Theater on Sunday singing acoustic songs of fragile beauty that sought spiritual calm and longed for lost innocence. Then, for the next hour and a half, he stood up, plugged in, and tore it all to shreds.
At 62, Young remains a legendary iconoclast, a restless tinkerer who's literally always in motion, even when sitting down. His loose-limbed swaying knocked over one of five guitars arranged on a stage that resembled your grandmother's attic, during a terrific "Cowgirl in the Sand" that closed the first half of the highly entertaining evening.
"It just wants to jam," he said, unflummoxed as always. When he resumed the song, he strummed the guitar's neck to grant its wish.
For decades, Young has been talking about putting out an epic multi-disc compendium of his unreleased material. Who knows when that'll happen, but the Canadian child of the '60s has clearly been perusing his back pages.
His uneven new album, Chrome Dreams II, from which he did four songs - including a 19-minute, endurance-test fuzz-rock version of "No Hidden Path" that didn't quite justify its length - is a sequel to a 1970s LP that never came out. And the guiding principle of the tour, which was scheduled to bring him back for another sold-out Tower show last night, was to mix trademark tracks like "After the Gold Rush" (performed on piano) and "Like a Hurricane" (a hellacious encore) with forgotten rarities.
On the opening "From Hank to Hendrix," he laid out the pitfalls of his artistic strategy: "Sometimes it's distorted, not clear to you / Sometimes the beauty of love comes ringin' through." He then pulled out oddities like "Campaigner" - revered by Neil know-it-alls for its "even Richard Nixon has got soul" hook line - and "Sad Movies," which before this tour, had not been performed live since 1976.
The acoustic portion of the show was prefaced by an announcement that prohibited cell phone use of any kind, the calling out of song requests, or the consumption of any food or beverages in the theater during the acoustic set, so Young could "concentrate on the music." That was a hard edict to swallow for the rowdy, multigenerational crowd, but it paid off with a committed, engaged performance, and a cheerful and thankful Young.
"I find myself thinking of W.C. Fields for some reason," he said, thinking, presumably, of the comic's proposed epitaph, "I would rather be living in Philadelphia." Added Young, "He was a funny guy."
When he went electric, Young was backed by bass player Rick Rosas, multi-instrumentalist Ben Keith, and Crazy Horse drummer Ralph Molina, and on backup vocals, Anthony Crawford and Young's wife, Pegi, who opened the show with a pleasant set of laid-back country-rock.
The second set delivered no shortage of theatrical weirdness. Before each song, the Panama hat-wearing tour manager Eric Johnson set a work-in-progress painting on an easel, illustrating the song's title, be it a powerfully stomping "The Loner" or gloriously self-pitying "Oh, Lonesome Me." A disco ball hung beneath a paint-smeared grand piano, and a wooden Indian observed the performance, which was being filmed by Jonathan Demme, who directed the 2006 Young concert film Heart of Gold.
Through it all, Young's keening, high-pitched vocals and convulsive guitar attack were every bit as feral and impassioned as his loyal fans, who plunked down as much as $150 for tickets, have come to count on. After more than four decades of music-making, Young's risk-taking studio albums are understandably inconsistent. But on stage, he never disappoints.
ERIC R. DANTON; Courant Rock Critic
9 December 2007
The Hartford Courant
The visual aids were a nice touch when Neil Young performed Friday at Chevrolet Theatre in Wallingford, but they weren't strictly necessary - Young's songs were artistry enough.
The other art came in the form of paintings, visual representations of Young's songs, that a blazer-clad crew member moved on and off an easel at the front of the stage during Young's electrifying (and electrified) second set.
His first set, though, was the greater of two equals. He performed alone, playing a selection of some of his best-loved songs mixed with less-known gems from his creative peak in the '70s.
Young emerged from the wings onto a stage cluttered with props, free-standing klieg lights and instruments, and sat down on a chair encircled by acoustic guitars (and a banjo). He didn't say much between songs, but that was no problem: His music said it all.
His legs waggled up and down and side to side, sometimes in time with the music and sometimes seemingly of their own accord, as he strummed an acoustic guitar and sometimes blew mournful counterpoint on harmonica. With eyes closed, he sang sadly of days past on "Ambulance Blues" and with a wry misanthropic bent on "A Man Needs a Maid," for which he switched to a paint-spattered grand piano. It was one of two pianos on stage, and Young used the other - an upright on the other side of the stage - for a shattering, intimate version of "After the Gold Rush."
The sold-out crowd applauded the more recognizable opening riffs, two of which ended the first set. Young played an arid, spare version of "Old Man," followed by a somber take on "Heart of Gold."
He started the electric set with a string of older tunes, including "Don't Cry No Tears" and a rollicking version of the country-rock title track from his 1969 album "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere," before turning to songs from his latest, "Chrome Dreams II." He played a thick, swampy riff on the blustery "Dirty Old Man," reveling in droll lyrics describing an irascible sot, and pushed through crumbly distortion on "Spirit Road."
Steel guitar swelled through "Winterlong," and the band fell into a deep groove on "Oh, Lonesome Me," with piano tracing Young's acoustic guitar part and subtle Hammond organ whirring beneath it all.
The 14-plus-minute jam on "No Hidden Path" to close the second set sapped some of the momentum the band had built, but Young and company returned with a pair of tunes that jacked up the energy level: a raucous, loose-edged take on "Cinnamon Girl" and the extended ballad "Cortez the Killer."
Young's wife, Pegi Young, opened the show.
"Neil was wearing paint-spattered cream-coloured pants and a jacket along with a light pink shirt. The thing that struck me right away was that Neil wasn't wearing a hat. In fact, I had noticed that Neil hadn't been favouring a hat for quite some time now. I think Neil has finally embraced his bald spot and is letting his bald flag fly, so to speak. It was clearly visible from where I was sitting. ..."
... more on: Sharry's reviews
4 December 2007
Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Neil Young is not the only classic artist out there, but he is among a dwindling breed of veteran rockers still crafting classic shows.
On the occasion of releasing "Chrome Dreams II," Young launched a concert tour comprised of shows that feature an opening set by his wife Pegi Young, followed by a Neil solo set, and wrapped up by a thundering electric set with Neil's band. Young opened a three- night stand in Boston on Sunday at The Orpheum, where he was due to perform last night and again Thursday.
Pegi Young, whom Neil would later introduce as his soul mate, delivered a set of country-flavored tunes assisted by bassist Rick Rosas, multi instrumentalist Ben Keith, and guitarist and singer Anthony Crawford. Rosas and Keith later returned as key players in Neil's band, while Pegi and Crawford would filter in and out as background singers and occasional instrumentalists.
The possibility of Neil - who wandered right through the Orpheum crowd before the show - joining Pegi likely kept most of the sold- out house far more attentive than another opener could have commanded. Yet Neil did not materialize until it was time for his solo set.
At that point he ordered beer taps in the Orpheum lobby be turned off and that patrons only be seated in between songs (the beer would flow again for the electric set). Situated in the center of a circle of guitars, Young began with "From Hank to Hendrix," a song with a line about "sitting here with my old guitar, doing what I do" that perfectly framed the solo set.
The 62-year-old Young traveled back across his legacy for such gems as "Harvest," "A Man Needs a Maid" and "Heart of Gold," all from the country-folk-rock masterpiece "Harvest."
Yet Neil also drifted far from the popular chapters of his canon. He dipped into the never-released first volume of "Chrome Dreams" for the aching piano ballad "No One Seems to Know," and he chased the unraveling sanity of "Ambulance Blues" from "On the Beach," a record long out of print until reissued a couple of years ago on CD.
Neil's acoustic music always tends to portray his kinder and gentler side, so much so that in the rarely played "Campaigner," Neil even maintained that George W., just like Richard Nixon, has got soul somewhere inside (a sentiment completely opposite to the mood Neil offered on last year's "Living With War" album).
The hippie dream "After the Gold Rush" and banjo-driven "Mellow My Mind" reiterated the hopeful, chilled-out romanticism covering about half of the Young song book.
The arrival of the band allowed Neil to bust open the other half of the book, those chapters full of rage, indignation and discontent.
In addition to having Rosas, Keith, and Crazy Horse drummer Ralph Molina on stage with him at all times, Neil also had a sharp- dressed painter at work on various canvasses during the concert.
Most of the completed paintings bore the titles of songs Young and crew played during the electric set, so the painter would set up the appropriate piece on an easel as the band covered the song. Sure it was weird, but well within the boundaries of weird Neil established for himself years ago.
The painter and the art-cluttered stage did not distract from the power of Young and his electric band.
While the solo set offered Neil a chance to get nostalgic, the electric band set was all about leaning into the wind. From the opening song "The Loner," straight on through more than an hour's worth of music, Neil and crew musically never looked back.
Even when Neil employed the sort of lurch-and-stomp guitar technique he perfected playing with the band Crazy Horse, he used it on this night to particularly good effect on new songs from "Chrome Dreams II." Thus the new "Dirty Old Man" packed all the fury of prime ticked-off Neil.
"Chrome Dreams II" provided the backbone of the electric set. The hypnotic "Spirit Road" brought in a tribal groove, and "The Believer" gave the band a shot at some of the folksier sound Neil used in the solo set.
But it was the new "No Hidden Path" that let Neil and his band completely empty the buckets.
For about 20 minutes, Neil had his guitar tuned to full rage and he played sheet after sheet of gale-force solo. The intensity of the performance, matched up with the song's seeker's message, offered the flip side to the more peaceful meditative approach of the solo material that was likewise looking to set heart and soul along a proper path.
Alongside the "Chrome Dreams II" songs, Neil cherry picked his back catalog for crowd pleasers such as "Everybody Knows this is Nowhere" (which came second in the set and made for the night's first appearance of Neil's signature Les Paul guitar he calls Old Black) and "Oh, Lonesome Me" and revived beloved obscurities "Bad Fog of Loneliness" and "Winterlong."
Young closed his show with the two-song encore of "Cinnamon Girl" and "Cortez the Killer," touching upon the beauty of it all and the horror of it all in what we would call tidy fashion if not for the howling guitars, clattering drums and generally rumpled feel to the whole thing.
Of course if any of it were crisp, clean and concise, it wouldn't be Neil.
Neil Young performs at Massey Hall in Toronto last Monday. (Associated Press)
By JAY N. MILLER
For The Patriot Ledger
You expect surprises at a Neil Young concert, and the venerable rocker didn’t disappoint at the Orpheum, with a two-set extravaganza that totaled about 140 minutes of music.
Young, 62, played an hourlong solo acoustic set, took a short break and then returned with his band for another 80 minutes of crunching rock. And with a set-closing 20-minute charge through ‘‘The Way,’’ from his latest album, that featured two lengthy guitar solos, Young proved that the fire still burns in his musical heart.
There will be some who claim those guitar solos, as well as the marathon work on ‘‘Spirit Road’’ and the trippy encore, ‘‘Cortez the Killer,’’ were simply too long. But with Young’s panoply of reverb, wah-wah, distortion and feedback creating a whole parallel universe of sound, there was nary a dull moment.
Young began his night with a stunning solo take on ‘‘From Hank to Hendrix,’’ a ballad about the travails of an enduring relationship. If his acoustic guitar strumming was effective, the purity of his voice was spellbinding. A bit later the wistful reverie ‘‘Sad Movies’’ again demonstrated how evocative his voice can be.
The solo rendition of ‘‘A Man Needs a Maid’’ was truly unique, as Young veered between piano and what sounded like a church organ, turning the old tune into a surreal minuet. The chestnut ‘‘Harvest’’ gained poignancy with just Young’s guitar behind it, and his rickety upright piano gave ‘‘After the Gold Rush’’ a suitably nostalgic feel. Young played banjo for the soothing ‘‘Mellow My Mind.’’
While every acoustic tune had its merits, playing 11 in a row is dicey. The triad of ‘‘Mellow My Mind,’’ the wistful ballad ‘‘Love Art Blues’’ and the melancholy ‘‘Campaigner’’ lowered the energy level a bit too much. But, ending the acoustic set with a rollicking ‘‘Heart of Gold,’’ Young made those concerns seem trivial.
>From the first pounding notes of ‘‘The Loner’’ it was evident the band segment would be a keeper. Backed by Rick Rosas on bass, Ben Keith on guitars and pedal steel and Crazy Horse stalwart Ralph Molina on drums -- Young took no prisoners.
‘‘Dirty Old Man,’’ from Young’s current album, ‘‘Chrome II,’’ was a fiercely rumbling, almost punk-rock anthem. ‘‘Spirit Road,’’ another of the four tunes Young included from that new CD, was a more complex piece, yet firmly rooted in that raging Crazy Horse sound. Young donned a hollow-body electric guitar for a more down-home sound on ‘‘Fog of Loneliness,’’ with Keith on pedal steel, and the jaunty, country-tinged ‘‘Winterlong.’’
The midtempo tune ‘‘The Believer’’ added Anthony Crawford on piano, with Keith on organ, as Neil’s wife, Pegi, sang harmony. That blazing regular set finale ‘‘(Show me) The Way’’ had one solo that had to be 10 minutes long, and another better than five minutes long. The first encore was an electrifying ‘‘Cinnamon Girl’’ with amps turned to 11, and then that mind-altering, heart-of-darkness tour of ‘‘Cortez the Killer.’’
Pegi Young opened with a half-hour set of her own country-folk tunes and has quite a pleasing voice.
NEIL YOUNG Sunday, tonight and Thursday at the Orpheum Theater
Copyright 2007 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Monday, December 03, 2007
thanks go to HwyCDRrev.
The Boston Globe
Neil Young shows two of his best sides
By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / December 3, 2007
The word maverick gets bandied about in rock 'n' roll with alarming frequency. But one artist who can easily carry that weight is Neil Young. At 62, the eminence grise is still stepping to his own unique rhythm, blissfully unconcerned with what critics or even his biggest fans think of him.
Last night those fans, especially the hardest of the hardcore, were rewarded for sticking with him through all of his various guises.
In the first of three sold-out shows at the venue, Young offered himself up in two flavors: contemplative acoustic Neil and rocking-like-it-still-matters Neil. Both were equally filling.
This was not a show for the passing fan, as Young dug deep into vintage albums and even his unreleased vault for the two-hour performance.
Taking to a stage littered with a forest of standing lights, a wooden Indian, and an ancient neon marquee filled with letters, Young sat in a circle of his guitars and eased into the evening with the gentle harmonica of the keening "From Hank to Hendrix." The crowd offered up the first of many eruptions but mostly stayed quiet - as requested at the beginning of the night - through the journey that followed, from the familiar ebb and flow of "Heart of Gold" to the dreamy scenes of "After the Gold Rush" - one of several tunes played on piano - to the truly obscure "Love Art Blues" and the epic "Ambulance Blues," which contained the lyric "It's easy to get buried in the past/When you try to make a good thing last."
If anyone has the agility to take stock of his history without getting mired in nostalgia, it's Young. He even updated the lyrics of "Campaigner" to give a shout out to President Bush.
After an intermission the Jolly Roger was hoisted over Ralph Molina's drum kit, and Young charged back with his band in tow and his amps turned up. The crowd was also ready to let it rip, albeit mostly from their seats, as the temperature rose in concert with the volume.
From the patented churn and burn of "The Loner" to the country stomp of "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere" to the rolling and tumbling "Winterlong," Young was clearly enjoying himself and his band, throwing his back into his guitar solos and stomping about the stage.
Deadline obligations meant missing the last five songs of the set, and, oh, what a quintet of songs, according to a lucky one left behind, including an epic take of "No Hidden Path" from the recent release of older material "Chrome Dreams II"; "Cinnamon Girl"; and "Cortez the Killer."
Young's wife, Peggy, opened with a warm set of lived-in country folk.
By JED GOTTLIEB
3 December 2007
NEIL YOUNG, with PEGI YOUNG
At the Orpheum, last night. Also tonight and Thursday.
Neil Young doesn't have a "Margaritaville." He doesn't have a "Fire & Rain," "Born to Run" or "Piano Man." Not bound by signature songs his fans will riot if they don't hear, the 62-year-old Young can play whatever he wants. Which is what he played last night at the Orpheum.
The first of three sold-out Orpheum shows this week, last night's show had an odd hit here and there, a few new songs and plenty of dusted-off, obscure tunes. But the gigs thrills came not from specific songs, but from Young's charismatic whimsy. He had his wife, Pegi Young, open, seemed to make up the acoustic set as he went along, and was accompanied by a painter slapping oils on canvas during his electric set.
Young began with skeletal, acoustic guitar versions of "From Hank To Hendrix," "Ambulance Blues" and "Sad Movies." And for a while the seated, respectful audience seemed content to hear their hero pick out a few rambling folk tunes.
Then Young sat down at a grand piano with a synthesizer strapped to it and belted out "A Man Needs a Maid" from his storied '70s masterpiece, "Harvest." It's a good thing everyone was sitting or they would have been knocked on their cans by the force of old Neil's performance.
Young is known as the godfather of guitar grunge, and his piano skills have always been slighted. But he spent half of the first set dancing deftly up and down the keys in "No One Else Will Know" and the memorable "After the Gold Rush," before wrapping up with "Heart of Gold" on guitar.
With as much bluster and energy as anyone making music today, Young plugged in and turned up loud for an electric hour of power. Like a hurricane of echo and feedback, Young's guitar powered "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere," "Cinnamon Girl" and the off-the- rails "Cortez the Killer," as close to signature songs as electric Young has. But "Dirty Old Man," from new Neil disc "Chrome Dreams II," was equally as forceful as the old warhorses.
- jgottlieb /bostonherald.com
British Columbia News
3 December 2007
The Globe and Mail
At his concert on Nov. 26, Neil Young opened the first set with Hank to Hendrix and the second with Loner. He played Journey Through the Past on a piano and Mellow My Mind on a banjo. Incorrect information appeared in Tuesday's paper.
1 December 2007
Neil Young offered more than a few evergreen tunes from throughout his storied career before an enthusiastically sold-out Shea's on Friday night.
In keeping with the spirit of that career, however, the most intense song of the evening was one from Young's newest effort, the lambent "Chrome Dreams II."
"No Hidden Path" is classic Young -- a midtempo, folk-based rock tune with anthemic chord changes writ large, an easygoing groove, campfire wisdom-laced lyrics and plenty of room for improvisation.
And what incredible improvisation it was. Young, a Gibson Les Paul Junior strapped across his midsection, tore into the solo sections with fervor, abandonment, and the trademark childlike glee that has laced all of his finest work. The tune was simply astounding, a large-scale emotional powerhouse centered on Young's keening near-falsetto tenor and his searing, primal guitar soloing.
Young is not a young man. But he played with a fire and intensity players a third of his age could learn a thing or two from.
Interestingly, this show -- billed as an "acoustic/electric" evening, with an even split between mellower solo fare and full- bore electric band throw-downs -- started off with a whisper.
Young strode to the stage in the humble everyman manner that is more natural demeanor than stage act, plopped himself down in the center of a circle of gorgeous acoustic guitars -- flanked on either side by a baby grand piano and an old-school upright, saloon-style job -- and eased into the elegiac "From Hank To Hendrix" like he was slipping into a favorite pair of well-worn denims.
"Ambulance Blues" flowed through beaucoup verses as Young settled into his gorgeously shoddy acoustic guitar style, blowing intermittent yearning asides on his harmonica, before segueing into the rare gem, "Sad Movies." He ambled over to the piano for a jaw- dropping "A Man Needs A Maid."
"Cowgirl In the Sand," the first of several tunes from Young's seminal Crazy Horse record "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere," made an easy transition to its acoustic guitar rendition, and again, Young's emotive singing was direct, dripping with feeling, hair- raising. The high point of the acoustic set had to be "Harvest," simply because it is one of the most sublime tunes of the past 50 years.
After a brief intermission, Young brought out old friends Rick Rosas, Ralph Molina and Ben Keith, as well as his wife, Pegi Young.
Opening with a killer take on "The Loner," Young had no trouble morphing into his full-bore electrified persona, and the guitar solos were both plentiful and glorious for the rest of the evening. The "Chrome Dreams" selections fared quite well.
"Dirty Old Man" sounded like something straight off of "Mirror Ball," Young's mid-90s collaboration with Pearl Jam, and again, the riffage was sublime. Young and band let no one down. This show was everything a Neil Young show should be.
28 November 2007
Massey Hall, Toronto, Nov. 26
For most of his career, Neil Young has been moving forward too fast to look back. After his two solo appearances at Massey Hall in January, 1971, for instance, he shelved the recordings, thinking little of them.
Thirty-six years later, his return engagement at the same venue is giving him a rare chance to take stock of the past. He is promoting both Chrome Dreams II (a "sequel" to his unreleased 1977 album) and Live at Massey Hall, finally released this year. While the former is an uneven hodgepodge, the latter helpfully documents Young's creative watershed between After the Gold Rush and Harvest (recently voted No. 3 and No. 1 respectively in the book The Top Canadian Albums), when he was playing a raft of new material in a rather intimate venue in his hometown.
On Monday, fans eager to follow their mercurial hero made pilgrimages from abroad and even from North Ontaraye-o-- at one point, someone in Massey Hall's balcony shouted, "Thunder Bay is in the house!" Young deadpanned, "That's good--I once left some things there."
What he didn't leave there he brought with him: The stage looked like the inside of a packrat's garage, complete with a morose-looking cigar-store Indian carved out of wood, a red telephone (which Young pretended to speak into at one point between songs), a baby grand piano painted to look as if it were on fire and a large jumbled set of alphabet letters that could have been rejects from an old seaside marquee. All that was missing was an electric train.
Young also surrounded himself with acoustic guitars for his first set, and after ambling on stage to a prolonged standing ovation, he sat down to perform 1992's >From Hank to Hendrix, in which he sings, "Here I am with this old guitar / Doin' what I do." It was a fitting start to a concert that seemed not so much like a snapshot of an artist in transition (as did the 1971 shows) as a career summation.
Sandwiched between all-time classics like Harvest and Old Man were obscurities such as Day and Night We Walk These Aisles (which Young explained is about Toronto's now-defunct Glendale theatre) and Love/Art Blues (a mid-'70s number in which he fretted about having to choose between the two -- clearly, with his wife Pegi on tour as background vocalist and opening act, he's since solved this problem). But even the songs that only the die-hards recognized were immediately accessible -- Young has become a much more engaging performer than the 25-year-old peering warily out of a spotlight in a darkened theatre in 1971. Even when sitting down, he shifts around, taps his feet and throws back his head to wring emotion out of his often stark lyrics.
In singing about loneliness or regret, he seemed to be not so much excoriating the past as celebrating it: He sent out the autumnal Journey Through the Past to his late Granny Jean from Flin Flon. The folksy intimacy bred perhaps too much interaction from the crowd, who whooped and hollered at lines both predictable ("I'm going back to Canada," "I'm up in T.O.") and not-so-predictable ("You're all just pissing in the wind").
Some audience members had apparently taken the new song Dirty Old Man's lyrics to heart ("I like to get hammered / On Friday night / Sometimes I can't wait / So Monday's all right"), and by the time a woman intimated that Young should Harvest her ovaries, the crowd participation had become intrusive. Despite Shakey's impressive acoustic performance, it was something of a relief when he plugged in and added a backing band for his second set.
Young drew heavily on the more predictable riff-rock from Chrome Dreams II. Again, he was in good form, wrenching out searing solos from his trusty axe, Old Black, but his long-time sidemen (including bassist Rick Rosas and stock-still rhythm guitarist Ben Keith) did little but play unassuming repetitive patterns to fill out the sound. As such, the music settled into a pleasant, head-nodding groove, lacking the nervous, aggressive edge that marks his most electric performances.
When the crowd rose at last to their feet for the encore, it seemed to galvanize the band: a snarling Cinnamon Girl led to a version of Like a Hurricane that lived up to its title. It was a churning psychedelic opus torn between sweet string sounds courtesy of a keyboard decorated to look like a dove (a holdover from 1979's Rust Never Sleeps tour) and some violent guitar-and-drum bashing by Young and Ralph Molina.
Out of the tension between these elements emerged a sound both beautiful and frightening, and the concert reached the transcendent moment it had struggled to attain.
Unlike most of his colleagues from the classic-rock era, Young tends to embrace the fact that his most vital music springs from a sense of opposition. At 62, two years after a life-threatening aneurysm, he has earned the right to sit back in a comfort zone. An archival box set scheduled for next year suggests he might continue to sift through the past. But leaving aside cliches about burning out and fading away, Young still seems to have enough fire in him to burn a few more bridges.
Let's hope that with this current tour, he's just stoking the flames. - Neil Young plays another sold-out show at Massey Hall tomorrow night.
REVIEW: NEIL YOUNG IN CONCERT AT MASSEY HALL 36 YEARS LATER
27 November 2007
The Globe and Mail
Boomer nostalgia and clever marketing came together in perfect harmony at Massey Hall last night, as Neil Young toasted his own recent Live From Massey Hall 1971 album, and his Chrome Dreams II disc of new songs, in the first of three sold-out concerts.
Mr. Young faced an adoring crowd alone during his opening set, as he did 36 years ago. For his second set, he was joined by a version of the band that recorded Chrome Dreams II, a thematic album that explores issues of faith, endurance and the emotional exhaustion that many in Mr. Young's country of residence (the U.S.) feel after four years of war in Iraq.
Forty years of recording have given the prolific Mr. Young a huge repertoire of well-known songs, and he offered the fans many of those last night. He also performed new songs, as well as some from Living With War, his angry 2006 response to the souring of America's latest military adventure.
He took his place at the start of the show within a circle of acoustic guitars, in a cozy, cluttered set that suggested a performance at an abandoned carnival. Narrow rope ladders sagged up into the flies, and a random scrabble of old illuminated sign letters overhung the scene.
Mr. Young has never shied away from the debt to memory, and his solo performance reflected long and intensely on wonders found and lost.
"It's easy to get buried in the past when you try to make a good thing last," he sang, touching a theme that also resonates strongly through his most recent work.
He sang some of the same songs he performed at Massey on that night long ago, including Old Man (sung now by a man with a head of silvery hair) and A Man Needs A Maid, which he performed on a painted piano and vintage synthesizer.
In between songs, he wandered the stage as if unsure as to what he was doing there, or who was yelling at him from the darkness. Or perhaps he was just taking the measure of the place, and of the city, where he once lived and which haunted several songs.
His longest comment to the crowd had to do with his grandmother in Flin Flon, Man., whose style at the parlour upright he said he hoped to emulate.
The show opened with a set by Mr. Young's wife, Pegi, who performed songs from her own recent album, with a drummers' trio that sounded like a jug band without the jug.
27 November 2007
The Toronto Star
It was the mother of all homecomings.
Last night Neil Young returned to Toronto, his birthplace, and, more importantly, to Massey Hall, 36 years after his sold-out 1971 concert there suggested he might be a Canadian star of profound and possibly lasting artistic worth.
In the first of three shows at the venerable Victorian venue - he performs there again tonight and Thursday - the 62-year-old singer, guitarist and songwriter dabbled quite deliberately and self-consciously with notions of art throughout. A sharply dressed curator, in red jacket and white boater, wandered upstage, hanging and rearranging primitive paintings on the back wall, appearing to evaluate them, even discussing their virtues in the intermission with Young and his wife, Peggy, posing as potential buyers.
And high above the set - it resembled a home studio complete with a lifetime's collectibles, including half a dozen priceless vintage acoustic guitars in the first half of the program, and stacks of ancient and equally valuable amplifiers in the second - hung a series of letters and one number, 3, which seemed to have some mysterious function as they began to light up, one by one, late in the evening.
If it was Neil the folkie or Neil the rocker for whom the enthusiastic crowd turned up - they rose to their feet when he walked onstage unannounced, and after almost every song - they all got their fill, and then some.
The first 45 minutes, after an indifferently received opening set by Peggy and part of Young's band (dobro/steel player Ben Keith and bassist Rick Rosas) featured Young solo, wandering between a cluster of acoustic guitars (he played just three of them, and a banjo) and two pianos (a grand and a honky-tonk upright), and offering up, with almost whimsical abandon, familiar masterpieces ("Old Man," "A Man Needs A Maid," "From Hank To Hendrix," "Cowgirl In The Sand," "Ambulance Blues") and more obscure gems from his vast treasury.
He was in fine voice, his trademark falsetto barely faltering in the high register, and his guitar playing exemplary.
He resembled no one so much as an elderly dealer in fine musical arts sampling his objets, amusing himself with their sweet sounds, and lost in memories, particularly when he recalled his grandmother, who worked during the day at a copper mine in Flin Flon, and on weekends entertaining the miners in musical concerts and plays.
"She had a gold purse that shone," he said.
"It's hanging on my piano at home (in California)."
After a 20-minute intermission Young returned to the stage with Keith, Rosas and drummer Ralph Molina - a musical colleague from the Crazy Horse Days in the 1960s - for a smoking set of typically raunchy rock, much of it from the current album, Chrome Dreams II interspersed with a few lost classics ("Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere," "Winterlong").
Older, maybe not wiser, and certainly no less passionate, Young was the master last night. Long may he run.
BY CASSANDRA SZKLARSKI
27 November 2007, 05:29 GMT
The Canadian Press
TORONTO _ Legendary rocker Neil Young tore through new and old favourites Monday night in a rousing return to the historic Canadian music hall that bore one of his most celebrated performances.
The first night of Young's three-night stand at Massey Hall was greeted by an enthusiastic standing ovation from the affectionate crowd, a mix of young and old fans who eagerly filled the intimate venue with shouted requests and more ovations throughout the night.
``Welcome back, Neil!'' one fan yelled as others hooted from an audience that included Canuck singers Ron Sexsmith, Tomi Swick and Dallas Green.
``Good to be here,'' Young said in one of his few addresses to the audience.
``I appreciate you all coming down to see me, too.''
The 61-year-old ambled through an hour-long solo acoustic set featuring sentimental gems that elicited whispered sing-a-longs from the crowd. He followed it with a charged electric set drawing heavily from his new disc, ``Chrome Dreams II''.
Dressed in baggy pants and a rumpled white dress shirt, Young spent much of the first set seated on a folding chair with a guitar on his lap and a harmonica at his lips.
He strummed through openers ``From Hank to Hendrix,'' and ``Ambulance Blues,'' his knees bopping up and down and side-to-side on pivoting toes. Later he picked up a banjo for ``Mellow My Mind'' and moved to a baby grand for ``A Man Needs a Maid.''
A brief intermission was followed by an electric set that offered several new songs including the garage bash, ``Dirty Old Man,'' and a 16-minute guitar tear through ``No Hidden Path.''
For this segment, Young was joined by longtime collaborators Ben Keith on dobro, pedal steel and guitar; Ralph Molina on drums; Rick Rosas on bass and wife Pegi on back-up vocals.
The show came more than 25 years after Young appeared on the same stage to debut songs from his now-classic disc, ``Harvest.'' A CD and DVD of that famous solo acoustic night was released earlier this year.
On Monday, Young revisted several songs he played in that 1971 show, including ``Cowgirl In the Sand,'' and ``Bad Fog of Loneliness.''
He kept the audience on its feet with encores ``Cinnamon Girl'' and ``Like A Hurricane.''
Young's wife Pegi opened the show with songs from her self-titled debut album.
The Toronto shows are the only Canadian stops on Young's 18-city tour.
Young returns to Massey Hall Tuesday night and on Thursday before heading to Buffalo and a three-night stand in Boston.
The tour wraps up with a five-night stand in New York, ending Dec. 18.
17 November 2007
The Washington Post
At DAR Constitution Hall on Thursday, Neil Young earned a huge cheer by taking a sip from a beer bottle. A purer sign of the reverence in the room came shortly after his gulp, as Young delivered his burned-in-the-brain gem, "Heart of Gold." The audience did not sing along.
The fans had come to hear Neil Young sing Neil Young songs. He had upset a portion of his base during a previous local stop as a headliner, in 2003 at Merriweather Post Pavilion, by devoting almost an entire evening to "Greendale," a then-unknown and still unsatisfying folk-rock opera about . . . well, who knows?
Young still isn't ready to surrender to fans' nostalgic desires. When one bozo in the upper bowl screamed for "Old Man" during the opening, solo acoustic portion of the two-set, nearly 21/2-hour show, Young feigned having his feelings hurt and mumbled, "Who you callin' that?" He didn't play the song.
He did, however, perform several cuts (among them "Dirty Old Man") from "Chrome Dreams II," a CD released last month, and at least one unreleased number, "Try," that was so obscure that Young, 62 years old this week, admitted he forgot the words.
But, as with his offering up "Heart of Gold," there were also several occasions when he turned to the older, familiar pages of his songbook. Young played synthesizer and a grand piano for "A Man Needs a Maid," which, like so many of his great early-1970s work, was simultaneously psychedelic and folksy, and provided a primer on how to retain hard-rocker credibility even during excursions into wimp-rock territory.
Young got down and dirty for the latter portions of the show, when he was joined by a band (led by longtime drummer Ralph Molina) and plugged in Old Black, his vintage Les Paul. During the electric portion, the title of each song was displayed on a large painted canvas to Young's left. He also positioned a painter at the back of the stage who worked on a new canvas throughout the set. Young's jam on the new "No Hidden Path" was so long that the artist would have had enough time to put a second coat on the Sistine Chapel. Director Jonathan Demme and a camera crew lurked around the stage, which was decorated like a movie soundstage. Unlike on the "Greendale" tour, the gimmicks didn't suck the life out of the show.
Young encored with the ever-sweet "Cinnamon Girl," and then a Category 5 rendition of 1977's "Like a Hurricane." At song's end, the storm quieted and Young, in the exact same beautifully fragile warble he had when he wrote the tune, repeated the line about "that perfect feeling when time just slips away." He summed up the night right there.
CONCERT REVIEW: In songs that speak of loneliness and longing, the Hall of Famer pleased fanatics with obscure tunes but came up short on his biggest hits.
Jon Bream; Staff Writer
9 November 2007, Star-Tribune
"Here I am with this old guitar doing what I do," Neil Young whined during his opening number, 1992's "From Hank to Hendrix," on Thursday night at sold-out Northrop Auditorium.
The rock god has been known for presenting quirky concerts. In 2003, he offered a hippie stage musical with actors, sets and songs. He has toured solo, surrounded by a semicircle of acoustic guitars. And he has done ear-splitting rocking shows, with roadies dressed as alien creatures and the stage dressed with oversize cartoon amplifiers.
At Northrop, he unveiled a most appropriate quirk: One solo acoustic set and one electric set with a four-piece band. The formula fit his Hall of Fame career, during which he has been the melancholy folkie and the rebellious rocker with equal success. Thursday's concert was a fanatic's dream, filled with lots of obscure and seldom-performed songs, but it was also a casual fan's disappointment if they were hoping for lots of hits.
Overall, it was a rewarding but unsatisfying evening, short on consistent vocal passion and short on the kind of soaring highs Young has provided in the past.
The opening 11-song, 50-minute set was very even keeled, with his vocals almost as bland as the beige sportcoat and pants he was wearing. The true believers ate up the obscurities, including "Sad Movies," "Mellow My Mind" on a banjo and "Ambulance Blues," a Nixon-era tune with the line "I know a man who tells so many lies" that resonated in these Bush times.
Young did not indulge in heavy politics in song or conversation, as he did last year on his "Livin' with War" album and his tour with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. On Thursday, he was friendly, chatting about "growing up a few miles north of here" (Winnipeg was his teenage home) and how geese make the sky seem dark (a comment as cryptic as some of his lyrics).
Highlights of the opening set were the familiar "A Man Needs a Maid" (rendered on a psychedelically painted grand piano), the trippy "After the Gold Rush," the inevitable smash "Heart of Gold" and the spirited "Love Is a Rose," which featured a passionate harmonica/guitar jam.
Performing on a stage that looked like an abandoned theater, Young was joined by three former colleagues - drummer Ralph Molina (Crazy Horse), bassist Rich Rosas (Bluenotes) and guitarist-keyboardist Ben Keith (Stray Gators) - for an 11-song, 70-minute electric segment. He opened with "The Loner," the first song from his first solo album in 1969, and impressed on the set's departure, a lonely dirge-like reading of Don Gibson's "Oh Lonesome Me."
The most potent stuff was a trio of tunes from his current "Chrome Dreams II": the grungy grinder "Dirty Old Man," the snarling "Spirit Road" with CSNY-worthy vocal harmonies and the 13-minute "No Hidden Path," with a penetrating Young guitar solo that was about harmonics, not thrash. If ragged guitar glory was what the fans craved, they got it on the ferocious finale, "Like a Hurricane" - with the soon-to-be 62-year-old raging on his old guitar.
A big surprise at this show in addition to the inclusion of Cowgirl In The Sand: The instrumental Sultan! From Neil's pre-Buffalo Springfield band The Squires's one and only 7" single. First live performance since at least 1965. Complete with Eric Johnson (aka the devil in Greendale) dressed up as a sultan banging on a big gong!
[Ed2 note: It was not...]
that was cary kemp on gong.
get your info right.
that was NOT eric johnson on gong it was cary kemp.
no more lies!
Here's the review from Variety, currently posted online at
Posted: Wed., Oct. 31, 2007, 2:13pm PTRecently Reviewed
Neil Young (Nokia Theater; 7,100 seats; $257 top)
By PHIL GALLO
Neil Young raids his vaults for little-known songs on his current tour.
Presented by AEG. Opened and reviewed Oct. 30, 2007; closes Nov.2.
Band: Neil Young, Rick Rosas, Ben Keith, Ralph Molina, Pegi Young, Eric Crawford.
In the decades before the Internet, Neil Young's hardcore fans found ways to communicate with one another about shows and bootlegs, mythic guitar solos and stacks of unreleased, finished songs that continually added to the aura of mystery that surrounded him. That he would play shows, particularly in the '70s and '80s, overstuffed with little-known tunes was something to marvel at and fear, but now word travels fast when Young is delving deep into his vaults as he is on this tour. His two sets at the Nokia -- the acoustic one opened with "Hank to Hendrix" and the electric with "The Loner" -- were awash in obscurities, making it a night to cherish for its singular artistic vision and collection of brilliant guitar solos.
Young's theater tour is set up to get the word out about "Chrome Dreams II" (Reprise), which was released last week and charted reasonably well (No. 11, 54,000 sold) for a new Young recording. The "II" in the title signifies that this is a sequel, although it's for an album that was never released as intended. The initial "Chrome Dreams," recorded in 1976 and '77, included songs that would show up on "Rust Never Sleeps" and versions of tunes that had appeared on the grab-bag release "American Stars n' Bars"; if we're printing the oft-repeated legend, it's the greatest Neil Young album ever.
As if to lay down an introduction to the mindset of "Chrome Dreams II," Young uses his hourlong acoustic portion to scurry back to the mid-'70s when most of these tunes were penned. After performing the sprawling "Ambulance Blues," he doled out the never-released songs ("Sad Movies," "Don't Say You Win, Don't Say You Lose," "Love Art Blues"), songs that appeared on the mid-'70s "Decade" compilation ("Campaigner," "Love is a Rose"), unadorned versions of the orchestrated works on "Harvest" ("A Man Needs a Maid" and the title track) and two "hits" ("After the Gold Rush," "Old Man").
Only one song was dramatically different from its best-known version: "Mellow My Mind," an electric garage rocker that appears on "Tonight's the Night," was performed, quite magically, on banjo. He sang it as he did on record, straining in spots to hit the highest notes, but overall Young appears to have gained control of the deep undertones in his voice; he's still nasally, but more commanding as a singer.
Seated in front of a semi-circle of acoustic guitars, Young comically commented that he once worried about what he would say between songs, a response to relentless shouting of song titles while he was changing guitars and harmonicas. Bizarrely, the crowd that went to see the "Greendale" concerts was more accepting of Young and his band performing unfamiliar material behind an army of actors mouthing his words in a semi-staged play. A large contingent erroneously believes that paying hundreds of dollars to sit in the orchestra gives them the right to dictate a set list.
Five songs from "Chrome Dreams II" worked their way into the 11-song, 90-minute electric set, highlighted by a nearly 20-minute version of "No Hidden Path." Young's latest addition to his canon of guitar-solo driven songs ("Cowgirl in the Sand," "Cortez the Killer," "Like a Hurricane") is the most adventurous number in the set; if Jimi Hendrix and certain blues players were his guiding light on earlier songs of this ilk, then John Coltrane is the force here. Young explored harmonic and melodic structures in distinct individual blocks, smoothly gliding through some areas and careening off the walls of others. Best of all, he held your interest for the duration.
As if to contrast the fact that "No Hidden Path" relies on Young taking the lead and navigating the minimal chord changes, he sings "Show me the way and I'll follow you today." It connects with the despair of his mid-'70s milieu in an unexpected manner: This song and ones played prior -- "Spirit Road," "The Believer," "Bad Fog of Loneliness" -- share with the acoustic numbers a sense of longing, the desire to be needed and for guidance.
Young's set is an old studio soundstage, with rows of unrelated letters (from a marquee? a roof sign?) behind him and spotlights on the side. A painter works in a rear corner of the stage, painting song titles over mostly abstract works during the electric set that he places on an easel at the lip of the stage. Quirky.
Young will perform for six nights at New York's United Palace in mid-December.
Posted by Stan Hall October 23, 2007 11:28AM
Giving people exactly what they want is not Neil Young's style.
The Canadian-born, California-assimilated Rock and Roll Hall of Famer could easily, and justifiably, rest on his laurels -- dozens of classic songs spread over a 40-year career, a reputation as one of the greatest and most distinctive rock guitarists, a huge influence on multiple generations of musicians -- and crank out an obligatory new album every few years between lucrative greatest-hits tours.
But fulfilling expectations is anathema to Young, so the artist's sold-out concert at the Keller Auditorium Monday night was devoid of many of his best-known songs. Instead, he offered a set featuring an inspired mix of the popular and obscure, the straightforward and esoteric, adding up to a two-hour performance that left the audience, many of whom paid ticket prices well over $100, deeply appreciative and often mesmerized.
Touring behind the newly released "Chrome Dreams II," his first album in nearly 20 years to feature stylistic variations instead of sticking to one genre, Young fittingly divided the show into solo acoustic and full-band electric sets. The acoustic half was an archival treasure trove for the kind of devoted fans who pine for great "lost" albums, like the original "Chrome Dreams," that the mercurial Young compiled but decided not to release.
The first knockout of the night was "Ambulance Blues," a hallucinatory, wryly humorous folk epic from 1974. Young gave one of his greatest compositions a hushed treatment, with crystalline guitar and harmonica accompanying a voice plumbing the lowest depths of its range. Young followed this with a string of surprises: such'70s-era unreleased gems as "Sad Movies," "Love/Art Blues" and the gorgeous, fragmentary piano ballad "No One Seems to Know"; a wrenching "Mellow My Mind," played on banjo; and "A Man Needs a Maid," which Young is playing on this tour for the first time since 1976. The song is alternately described as overblown, sexist tripe and a complex, poetic portrait of male ego and isolation. Young played it on a psychedelically painted yellow-and-pink piano, alternating between it and a synthesizer meant to evoke the London Symphony Orchestra's accompaniment on the original recording. The switching really didn't work that well, but it was interesting, and Young gave his best vocal performance of the evening on the song.
Young's deadpan humor was on display during the acoustic set. When he sipped on his beer and many in the audience applauded, he replied, "How can you cheer for a piece of crap beer like this?" A running joke had to do with his replies to the numerous shouted song requests that he had no intention of fulfilling: "I'll write that down, that's a good idea" was a typical response. Finally, he whipped out a perfunctory "Heart of Gold," much to the relief of casual fans likely confused by the relatively few familiar tunes.
Young's electric set, backed by Crazy Horse drummer Ralph Molina, bassist Rick Rosas and multi-instrumentalist Ben Keith, really locked into a groove only intermittently, perhaps because this was just the third show of the tour. "Winterlong" was sluggish, and Molina's boom-boom-thwack style didn't suit an acoustic-based "Oh, Lonesome Me."
The band hit its stride on two new songs, "Dirty Old Man" and " Spirit Road," but it was the last song before the encore, the quarter-hour-long "No Hidden Path," that finally gave Young a chance to let rip with his patented idiosyncratic guitar pyrotechnics. He doesn't play a lot of notes, but he wrenches passion and lyrical expression from his playing as few guitarists ever have, and the tone he achieves, with its unmistakable, canyon-deep reverb, is a wonder.
The concert's most poignant moments came during the extended soloing. With a paunchy body, his thinning, almost white hair framing an etched, jowly face that looks older than his 61 years, Young nevertheless appeared vital as he played. It was quite a testament to the transformative power of rock'n'roll.
-- Stan Hall
thx 2 Cosmo aka rustINhead
By Patrick MacDonald
24 October 2007, The Seattle Times (MCT)
Oct. 24--Neil Young fans were in heaven when he opened his show at WaMu Theater last night with an 11-song acoustic set of classic songs, including "Heart of Gold," "Love Is A Rose" and "A Man Needs A Maid," all from the '70s. The boomers loved them.
He sang "From Hank to Hendrix" as the opening song, drawing a cheer for the hometown hero: "Here I am with this old guitar, doin' what I do."
The WaMu may not have much charm -- it's the cavernous Qwest Field Event Center, after all, with some heavy curtains and lots of chairs dropped in -- but the acoustics were fine. The set was low-key, with Young going from guitar to piano to organ, even banjo. He made it feel intimate, especially when bantering with the crowd.
"Look at mother nature on the run, in the 21st century," he sang ("After the Gold Rush"), another classic line that got a rise from the big crowd.
Pegi Young and her versatile three-piece band opened the show with an easy-flowing, sweetly played and sung set of eight songs -- mostly from her new, self-titled solo album. Fans probably hoped husband Neil Young would join her at some point but never did.
The group, gathered near center stage, looked small on the big stage, which was crowded with instruments (including a psychedelic colored grand piano) and Neil's usual assortment of odd props: a cigar-store Indian, large oil paintings, movie-set-style klieg lights and big letters scattered on the back wall, spelling nothing but nonsense.
Pegi Young's simple set was in contrast to all that stage business, and made her performance even more charming.
Neil Young's acoustic set followed, and after another intermission, electric Young and band were scheduled to close the show.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Under glorious afternoon skies, Neil Young took the stage for the 20th annual Bridge School Benefit Concert at Mountain View's Shoreline Amphitheatre on Saturday wearing little more than a T-shirt somebody gave him backstage. Nine hours later, when he returned to the stage for the concert's closing performance well after midnight, he had added a couple of layers, but he still had the backstage pass stuck in his hat band, in case some security guard didn't recognize him.
By GEOFF MULVIHILL
2 October 2006, 16:30 GMT, Associated Press Newswires
Protests old, new invigorate warhorses
31 August 2006, The Columbus Dispatch
A bitter irony marked the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young concert Tuesday night in the Germain Amphitheater: The packed house had the war in Iraq to thank for the considerable passion displayed by the four stars and, probably, the tour's existence....
Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young
Though his name comes last in the sequence of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Neil Young was the fulcrum of the group's show at Nissan Pavilion on Saturday night, providing the star power, the freshest material -- and the controversy.
Though the set list included political tropes spanning four decades, it was Young's new song, "Let's Impeach the President," that sent some patrons heading toward the exits. Were their red-state sensibilities offended, or was it simply that the song came late in a three-hour show and certainly felt like the climax (though the band had another half-hour to play)? Hard to say. After all, the gig had been as much an antiwar rally as a concert from its opening moments, and the audience's rapturous response to "Wooden Ships," "Military Madness" and "Almost Cut My Hair" appeared to be prompted as much by the sentiments as by the actual performances -- which, by the way, deserved the ovations they got.
Young's current "Living With War" protest disc accounted for a quarter of the material spread over two long sets, with new songs such as "Families" accompanied by a CNN-parody video presentation of uncensored combat footage and U.S. casualty counts in Iraq.
But the show gave more or less equal time to the other three songwriters, who graciously introduced one another's songs, and found some of its finest moments in performances of lesser-known ones, with Stephen Stills's "Treetop Flyer" a particular highlight. Still, "Impeach" was the only song in a set of three dozen to have its lyrics projected on the video screens, and any patrons who walked out during the lines "What if al-Qaeda blew up the levees? / Would New Orleans have been safer that way?" missed powerful renditions of "Ohio," "What Are Their Names" and an incendiary four-guitar meltdown of "Rockin' in the Free World." Chalk it up to the prescience of their authors or the folly of our leaders, but this material is still topical, and this band of sixty-somethings still rocks.
-- Chris Klimek
31 July 2006, The Oregonian
Concert review Call it 'The Neil Young Show'
Monday, July 31, 2006
MARTY HUGHLEY, The Oregonian
26 July 2006, Contra Costa Times (KRTBN)
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News - KRTBN
Jul. 26--Outrage is a good thing...
By Jim Harrington, STAFF WRITER
Inside Bay Area.com
The evening started off at Shopsy's deli restaurant where a group of us got together for dinner prior to the show.
By BILL HARRIS
Crosby, Stills and Nash always have been about keeping Young.
The harmonies of David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash still
provide a nostalgic if increasingly gravelly and breathless backdrop.
But obviously it’s Canadian Neil Young who gives the four-man combo
known as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young whatever edge it has left, and
that was the case again last night at the Air Canada Centre.
Clad in an Australian-style hat, Young was very much the man in charge,
whether he was wailing on his black Gibson guitar or cutting the night
air with his harmonica. As he stomped around the stage floor — which had
a large copy of the U.S. Constitution projected onto it — he seemed to
be urging his bandmates into some form of modest motion.
CSNY configured its Freedom Of Speech ’06 tour to battle a common enemy:
Namely, United States President George W. Bush, who last night was
referred to by Crosby as a “chimpanzee.” So this isn’t a throwback tour
per se, since songs from Young’s recent less-than-subtle CD Living With
War are prominently featured.
There was no opening act and the concert was split into two halves, with
an intermission. Much of the stylishly late Toronto crowd still was
making their way to their seats when things started promptly at 7:45 p.m.
CSNY opened with Young’s Flags Of Freedom, as flags of various countries
materialized behind the band. Other new and well-received Young tunes
included After The Garden, The Restless Consumer and Shock And Awe.
There was an odd occurrence toward the end of the first half, when CSNY
got lost and had to stop not once, but twice, during Stills’ Feed The
The foursome found more of a comfort zone in the second half, which
featured a higher percentage of golden oldies.
A piano appeared for the purposes of Nash’s Our House, the hippie anthem
he wrote about his cohabitation with Canadian songstress Joni Mitchell.
One of the highlights was Nash’s lush Milky Way Tonight. Young
introduced the song by saying it was one of his favourites, but added,
“I’m not a reviewer.”
The politics returned with the theatrical raising of a giant microphone
adorned with a yellow ribbon, just prior to Young’s Let’s Impeach The
President. The Bush-bashing found receptive ears last night, but
obviously it’s more cutting-edge when performed south of the border.
CSNY played for almost three hours, closing the main set with Young’s
Rockin ’ In The Free World and choosing the Mitchell-penned Woodstock
for the one-song encore.
After the group gathered for the standard deep bow, Young cracked up his
bandmates by grabbing his back in mock old-coot style and limping off
Crosby, Stills and Nash certainly don’t look anything like they did on
the day back in the late 1960s when Mama Cass Elliott conspired to get
them together for an impromptu sing-along at her home in Laurel Canyon.
Young joined later, and he’s the one who has changed the least in the
past four decades, both physically and, arguably, artistically.
Given the current state of the world, the re-emergence of Crosby,
Stills, Nash and Young is a mixed blessing, and that has nothing to do
with their slightly ragged performance last night. Whether you welcome
their return or just wish they’d shut up, there’s no denying CSNY’s
music is at its most relevant in tumultuous times.
Barring a sudden and unexpected end to the war in Iraq, CSNY will play
the ACC again tonight.
Submited to BNB by JD
Hi RK mom & ks
11 July 2006, The Toronto Star
It was a fair bet that Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young would be
preaching to the converted when their Freedom of Speech '06 tour
pulled into the Air Canada Centre for the first of two shows last night.
The question was how much of the packed house was made up of
choristers who shared the outing's anti-war, anti-Bush message and
how many were fans who would religiously turn out for any CSNY reunion show.
A healthy measure of each, to be sure. But judging by the response to
the material, probably more of the latter.
The concert opened with a heavy emphasis on Neil Young's current
protest album, Living With War. The response was enthusiastic enough.
And Young did his best to rally the crowd to the cause, particularly
when driving home the refrain "We don't need no more lies" from the
song "The Restless Consumer."
Even then, it wasn't clear whether that tune or "Shock and Awe" or
the album's title would have engendered anything like the same
response if they had been written by one of the other three. The
Toronto-born icon - at 60, the youngest of the four - looked
immeasurably fitter and more energetic than he did when he performed
last summer at Live 8 after emerging from a near-fatal aneurysm. And
that alone was more than ample cause for celebration last night.
The audience wasn't fully engaged until the quartet returned from
intermission to open an acoustic set drawing on such old favourites
as "Our House," "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" and, later, "Teach
Your Children" - songs that had no direct connection to the program's
The band members themselves initially appeared reluctant to push the
anti-war message too hard. David Crosby did signal a strident tone,
congratulating Canadians by saying, "The longer we have that
chimpanzee in the White House, the smarter you guys look."
There was very little, however, to match that in terms of political
passion or disillusionment until the heavy guns were brought out near
the end of the show. It was clear, for all the questions raised by
right-wing pundits about Young's Canadian citizenship, that the
reunion tour's presentation is overwhelmingly aimed at a U.S. audience.
"Find the Cost of Freedom" from 1971's 4 Way Street was performed
against a backdrop of photographs of the 2,537 casualties suffered by
the U.S. in Iraq. It was followed by an odd and largely unsuccessful
bit of stage work that involved a recorded version of the "Star
Spangled Banner," billows of dry ice and flapping yellow ribbons.
Young restored the momentum by launching into "Let's Impeach the
President." But, again, the response was more muted than moments
later when Stephen Stills reached back for his generation-defining
Buffalo Springfield hit, "For What it's Worth," followed by Graham
Nash at the piano for "Chicago" and then Young introducing the
familiar chords to "Ohio," his 1970 eulogy to the Vietnam war
protesters killed by the National Guard on the campus at Kent State.
Maybe the current war, which hasn't yet inspired the same level of
resistance, added to the resonance. Or maybe the audience just dug the music.
618969-430242.jpg | Steve Russell toronto star From left, a
spotlighted Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, Neil Young and David Crosby
fan the stage against a backdrop of U.S., Canadian flags last night
at Air Canada Centre. | ;
Less than halfway through last night's Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young concert at Scotiabank Place, an unsettling thought began to emerge.
Neil Young should have left the old guys at home.
Think about it: When the legendary Canadian rocker cranked out his landmark Living With War disc this spring, he should have mounted a quick 'n' dirty tour to back it up, accompanied by the band he recorded with.
Actually, Young did bring the guys he recorded with -- drummer Chad Cromwell and bassist Rick Rosas made up the rhythm section, but he also went along with the CSNY reunion idea that was already in the works before the disc was recorded, and brought along his aging cohorts, David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, too. Last night, it seemed like a bloated endeavour that only resulted in inflated ticket prices and added little to the music.
Up against a Bluesfest passport, last night's $200 ticket was a tough sell; even a last-minute block of cheap seats wasn't enough to sell out the stadium. Attendance was believed to be a little more than 11,000, an underwhelming figure for what should have been a historic event -- the first appearance in the nation's capital of an iconic supergroup.
Based on the advance buzz, it seemed to make sense to combine the CSNY Vietnam-era anthems with Young's Bush-bashing, anti-war sizzlers. But, at least in the first set, there was too much tepid solo material, and too few anthems of any sort.
Oh, there was a flicker of promise in the opening track Flags of Freedom, one of the great songs on Living With War. People jumped to their feet and cheered to its marching beat, while the four music legends formed a human fortress of guitars, two electric and two acoustic, and giant flags unfolded behind them. There was a surge of patriotic noise from the crowd when the Canadian flag unfurled, but by the end of the song, there were snickers as the flag mechanism malfunctioned and the flags failed to change on cue.
The mustachioed Crosby, white hair flowing, shared lead vocals on Wooden Ships with the barefoot, but neatly groomed, Graham Nash. It was an unexciting version until Young stepped in with some ragged electric guitar, facing off against Stills, a cherubic-looking old hippie who can still play a mean guitar when Young is in his face.
Again, Young's spidery guitar work was the most interesting thing about the CSN nugget, Long Time Gone, and the 1971 Nash solo remnant, Military Madness, which matched the anti-war theme of the evening, but lacked a fist-pumping pulse.
From Stills's solo catalogue came another thematic filler, the bluesy Wounded World, before a couple of new Young songs, After the Garden is Gone and the title track, in which it became painfully obvious that Stills, Nash and Crosby singing in unison are a poor substitute for a 100-voice gospel choir.
The edgy Restless Consumer made the most of Young's reedy, urgent voice, while Shock and Awe and Families gave a much-needed punch to the proceedings.
After rocking out so hard, Young gave the old guys a break, a perfectly sensible idea for a concert that was expected to last for three full hours.
They came back with a nicely harmonized, pleasant acoustic segment that included Helplessly Hoping, Our House, and Only Love Can Break Your Heart.
But at press time, we were still waiting for them to break out the anthems, ramp up the anti-war sentiment and live up to the spirit promised in the tour title, Freedom of Speech 06.
---------------------------------- Submitted to BNB by JD
CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG KICK OFF 'FREEDOM OF SPEECH '06' TOUR
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young opened their Freedom Of Speech '06 tour last night (Thursday, July 6th) at the Tweeter Center At The Waterfront in Camden, New Jersey. The show ran for about three hours, with near-perfect harmonies over classic hits and some deeper cuts that were mixed with songs from Neil Young's new album Living With War. The first set was very political, and while the crowd was into it, they really cheered and sang along during the second set, which had favorites like "Our House," "Southern Cross," and "For What It's Worth." Of the new Neil Young songs, "Let's Impeach The President" went over the best with the partisan crowd, as the lyrics were shown on the big screens next to the stage.
The guys didn't talk much, preferring to let the music deliver the message, but there were a few notable lines -- Graham Nash introduced the Crosby-Nash song "They Want It All" by saying "This is for Ken Lay, God bless him," while David Crosby urged everyone on the lawn "to light up a big fat one" before "Helplessly Hoping."
The most somber moment of the night came during an extended "Find The Cost Of Freedom," as a video screen showed pictures of servicemen and women killed in Iraq, along with a counter that showed 2537 U.S. combat fatalities from the war since March 2003.
The next stop for CSNY is tomorrow (Saturday, July 8th) at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ontario. The tour runs through September 10th.
-------------------------------- Submited to BNB by JD