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Neil Young Northrop Auditorium 11.08.07

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I’ve been a Neil Young fan for a long, long time and have had numerous opportunities to seem him in concert but hadn’t been able to make a show. Neil’s public performances have been quite memorable as I have been thrilled when he stole the stage at “Bobfest? a few years back (PBS broadcast a show celebrating Bob Dylan’s 30 years in the music industry.) There was a performance on The Daily Show a few years back that was also very cool. Finally in 2004 I got to see a little bit of Neil at the Rock for Change concert headlined by Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M. Neil was a surprise guest and actually overshadowed The Boss on stage, something that doesn’t happen much.

Luckily I got to see a full Neil Young show last night from the 13th row at the wonderful Northrop Auditorium. The show promised to be great as Neil was touring in support of his Chrome Dreams II album and was performing one acoustic set and then a rock and roll set with a band. I went by myself because the tickets were quite expensive ($134) but I pissed off my wife, who I found out too late also wanted to go. So I’ve got some fences to mend on the home front.

The acoustic set was quite moving as we saw Neil onstage with guitar, harmonica and piano. Many of the songs were obscure tunes from the 70’s but nonetheless done quite well. He started off with the great song from Harvest Moon: From Hank to Hendrix which is about lost love and has at its heart a chorus with a crucial question:

Can we get it together
Can we still stand side by side
Can we make it last
Like a musical ride?

In his opening song Neil was laying it all out there, asking the audience that very question. Can we still get it together? Am I musically relevant in these times of American Idol, digital downloads, and Britany’s shaved head and nether regions flashed all over the tabloids?

Many songs in the acoustic set were from the 70’s, written when Neil was in his mid to late-20’s. Even though they were written when he was a young man, they seem to have grown in relevance and speak about a man looking back, telling us the lessons he has learned can be found in the songs of someone in his youth with a future still to live and experience. Neil’s asking, remember when I said this? Well I’ve lived it and what I said then is important today, maybe even more so. Below is the acoustic set list:

From Hank To Hendrix
Ambulance Blues
Sad Movies
A Man Needs A Maid
No One Seems To Know
Harvest
After The Gold Rush
Mellow My Mind
Love Art Blues
Love Is A Rose
Heart Of Gold

After a 20 minute break Neil comes out and he’s ready to rock. Gone is the plain suit and he’s wearing stained pants and a grungy old shirt. He’s got a backing band and you get the idea that he’s thinking, o.k. I just spent 50 minutes looking back, re-introducing myself, asking for acceptance. Now I’m just going to kick your ass with my guitar. He follows with a 70-minute set of searing guitar rock, including numerous extended guitar solos. The electric set included:

The Loner
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Dirty Old Man
Spirit Road
Bad Fog Of Loneliness
Winterlong
Oh, Lonesome Me
The Believer
No Hidden Path

Cinnamon Girl
Like A Hurricane

He was in that classic Neil Young pose, knee bent, rocking back and forth as he punished his Gibson guitar. It was ragged glory at it’s best and the mostly middle-aged male crowd forgot for a moment their pissed off wives, expanding waist lines, and dreams of youth gone partially fulfilled. Then when Neil hit those first oh-so-identifiable notes to Like a Hurricane, you finally believed. You believed in the power of rock and roll, you believed in Neil Young, and you believed that yes Neil, we can still get it together and make it last like a musical ride. I’m glad you asked.

Did you go to the concert? What did you think?

Comments

Hey Free - Neil Young is also one of my all-time favorites. I've only seen him once, at the Orpheum, around 1998. There were about 10 guitars on stage, a grand piano and about 100 lit candles. It was awesome. I took my wife along, however, so she wasn't pissed off.

You're correct that Neil Young is a throwback to a time when music mattered more than "looks," or videos (are they still around?). His music will stand the test of time compared to many bands from today that will only remembered as answers to trivia questions.

On another point - have you read the new Replacements book by Jim Walsh?

Jeff T.

Jeff, I heard that concert was really cool.

I picked up the Replacements book today, hopefully crack into it soon.

Hi Dean:

Have not had a chance to visit lately, buy I enjoy checking in from time to time.

Nice review of the Neil Young show -- sorry I missed it.

Oh yeah -- that Wilco review. I enjoyed that too, and was quite amused by the little shout out. I am certain that was the first time that anyone EVER used the word "beatific" to describe me. Thanks!

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