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Friday, March 02, 2007

Sneak Preview of Live at Massey Hall


Thanks to an inside source, Thrasher's Wheat has obtained an advance release copy of Live at Massey Hall. So, here are a few thoughts on the first listen.

Live at Massey Hall more than just captures Neil Young's triumphant return to his Canadian home town Toronto on January 19, 1971. It provides an intimate portrait of the artist opening himself up to his audience while becoming more confident and comfortable with his rising fame.

While Live at Massey Hall has circulated as a bootleg for many years, this is the first time we hear a superb soundboard quality recording that fans have been yearning for with the Archives release series. For those semi-disappointed with Live at the Fillmore East not being a complete set, Live at Massey Hall should more than make up for that decision. In what appears to be an edited recording of 2 performances (early and late shows), the 17 song CD allows us to hear virtually what the Toronto audience experienced over 35 years ago.

Regarding the Archives #3 release, Neil said:
"This is the album that should have come out between 'After The Gold Rush' and 'Harvest'. David Briggs, my producer, was adamant that this should be the record, but I was very excited about the takes we got on 'Harvest,' and wanted 'Harvest' out. David disagreed. As I listen to this today, I can see why."

Playing new songs that would later appear on Harvest like "Old Man", "Needle and the Damage Done", and "Heart of Gold" one can only imagine the experience of hearing the eventual classics live in concert the first time. The audience clearly adores Neil's homecoming, welcoming nearly every song's opening notes with applause.

Shifting between acoustic guitar and piano, the concert also includes several songs the audience is familiar with such as "Ohio", "Cowgirl in the Sand", and "Down by the River". But it is the new songs (at the time) which are most striking. "Journey Through The Past", which would not be released until Times Fades Away, played on piano is simply gorgeous.

Neil truly reveals himself in his between song chatter while tuning and changing instruments. The comments are perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the CD in fact. We hear Neil gently admonish a photographer for taking pictures. We learn that Neil has just written 3 songs over the past several days. We learn that Neil has a new home -- a ranch in California.

Another striking revelation on the CD is the careful phrasing Neil gives to songs which we're so familiar with like "Helpless". The freshness of presentation is literally astonishing. While we've all heard "Heart of Gold" more times than we can count, the song's inclusion in the "Man Needs A Maid" suite is genuinely touching.

Humorously, Neil introduces "Man Needs A Maid" as a "Broadway musical". The song also includes a subtle lyric variation -- which are always fun to spot. Instead of "A Man Needs A Maid", Neil substitutes the line "Afraid, a man feels afraid."

One of the concert's funnier moments did not make it to the released CD. Just before "Bad Fog of Loneliness", Neil says "I hold a meeting with my songs every 6 months to see which ones get recorded. This next song wasn't even invited to the meeting." Moments later, Neil chastises the audience for applauding, saying "What're you clapping for? You don't know this song". Instead, we hear the early show performance introduced by describing an upcoming performance on "The Johnny Cash Show".

In some ways, you can almost hear Neil mature while listening. Not just as a singer-songwriter but as a unique musical talent, as well. Happily, Live at Massey Hall offers us another tantalizing glimpse of what's ahead in the Performance Archives series.

So with a little less than 2 weeks until the official release of the Archives Massey Hall CD, it is already in the top 10 #7 on the Amazon Best Sellers Listing.

Preview CD by clicking below.
Stream Neil Young


At 3/02/2007 07:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds great. Can't wait!

At 3/02/2007 10:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review, Thrasher. I can't wait. I pre-ordered the cd/dvd through Amazon on the link found at
Thrasher's Wheat. Great way to keep this site going!

Expecting To Fly

At 3/04/2007 02:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope this means things are on track for the 13th then. Whatever the source of the shows, the clips already sound better than any previous versions I've heard. And I also hope this keeps things on track for the rest of the Archives!

At 3/05/2007 03:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

can anybody tell me, if the us-version of the dvd is region-free or region 1? I'm from austria and the album costs about double here than it does in the us, so I'm thinking of getting it from


At 3/05/2007 03:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice picture..
Read my full review of Bernard Shakey's Filmography if you're interested:

Cool blog, keep it up!

At 3/06/2007 02:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope the rest of the Achives Series include some live performance of CSNY in 69 to 71 as well as the reunion tour of 74, it's better to release as 4 or 5 dics CD/DVD packages. All fans of Neil & CSNY are waiting for over 35 years.

At 3/09/2007 09:17:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog and appreciate that unlike other sites and biographers attributed to artists there is a real appreciation for the art rather than using the artist as a "vodoo" doll.

The beauty of the archives is that the viewer can see the creative process in action, not in linear form but as a whole.

At 3/09/2007 09:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anybody thought what the next release in the Performance Series
after Massey Hall will be?I read somewhere that Massey Hall was the
last planned release in the current series the period covered by
the first box set (1963-1972). If this is the case then the next period would begin with the 1973 tour with the Stray Gators. Could it be that Neil has plans to release this tour as Disc 4 of the NYAPS? This would be one explanation for Time Fades way never getting a CD release. It
could include all the songs on TFA plus other songs unreleased at the
time but not on TFA such as Lookout Joe,Borrowed Tune, New Mama and
Come Along and Say You Will. It would be interesting to hear live Stray Gators versions of the Harvest,ATG and EKTIN songs.

At 3/09/2007 10:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



At 3/10/2007 11:43:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Full recording available to hear on Rhapsody

At 3/11/2007 10:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks to an exclusive on Rhapsody i have been basking in the warmth of this release before its on the shelves. I was 15 when Harvest was released and I was a huge CSNY fan in those days.

Words can't express how happy i am to experience those classics in a new light. Thank you Neil.

Its all been worth the wait.


At 3/13/2007 09:59:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just picked up Massey Hall...Man what can be said about waiting 36-years...lots of memories...Thanks Neil

Can't wait for more archival tunes

At 3/14/2007 05:04:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

great ... intresting to hear Neil playing the dobro on dance, dance, dance never heard he even had one


At 3/14/2007 07:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saw him a few days later in St. Louis when he cut it short because of some rude fans. Brings back great memories. Great quality.


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