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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Concert Reviews of the Moment: Los Angeles - 10/30/07 & 11/2/07

Here are some Concert Reviews of the Moment of the Los Angeles, Nokia - 10/30/07 & 11/2/07

Thomas summed it up this way:
Neil was great 11-2-07 at Nokia LA.I have listened to his music for 40 years and finally got to see him live, wow. his acoustic set amazing, his electric unbelievable. i have never seen a lead guitarist do what he did. clapton is fast, hendrix was a trip, townsend hot, Neil took off to Venus-I was happy in the moment!!!!

At 11/06/2007 03:05:00 PM, Anonymous said...

Here's my perspective, belatedly, of the Tues LA show.

Neil Young played the Nokia Theater in LA last night and what a show it was. First, the venue was pristine, having opened only last week next to the Staples Center. As it happened, the Lakers were playing concomitantly, and not far from these festivites, Bruce Springsteen had his own soiree at the LA Sports Arena.

The Nokia Theater is a spectacular venue with impressive architecture and lightness. The interior is exceedingly comfortable and despite its largess, a definite intimacy abounds. The crowd, as I have become accustomed to, comprised successful, middle aged rockers looking to relive their coming in the comfort of time's spoils. For those with the wherewithal to secure last minute tickets, there were plenty to be had for a pittance. Perhaps as the result of the second show Friday, which was added and diluted the demand. This seemingly commonplace strategy in concert promotion creates an opportunity to those willing to take make the trip and take their chances.

Pegi Young opened the show and played 5 or 6 songs which were neither memorable or unpleasant...really a quintessential opening act to allow the crowd to settle. She had a country/rocking sound not unlike Bonnie Raitt but with far less depth and sound. Her musicians (3) were bona fide Young cronies that had seasoning and talent. After a 15 minute set change Neil came out (about 9PM) alone and did an acoustic set. His deliberately coy style provided intimacy with occasional engagement of crowd banter, appropriately humorous and professional. The set design to my mind, portrayed a back stage appearance or perhaps a loft or rooftop milieu. Exposed spotlights and large individual rooftop-type signage lettering were at the stage's rear. The piano on stage had a watercolor smattering, and there was an easel stage right with additional scattered stage lighting on tripod stands. Casual appearing and thematic.

The acoustic set was Neil Young alone with an informal rotation of instruments and stage location. The transitions were deliberate if not clumsy, which evoked the intimacy and confidence of a comfortable professional. The acoustic songs were varied and mostly familiar. Specifically the sound and selection of tunes from his recent Massey Hall 1971 release were eerily similar but fresh, and their replay was thoroughly enjoyable giving a sense of distant familiarity. The sound was fabulous, and really could not have been better in volume and quality. But best of all, was the delivery which was pristine, idyllic and above all profound. I couldn't help but smile during unfamiliar tunes as each execution defined perfection. Despite his years I found it hard to identify a flaw vocally or instrumentally with Young on every song. Only when he indicated a guitar malfunction on warm up, or strummed an untuned guitar which he replaced before restarting the song, did it become known to my ears that perfection couldn't be attained. His desire and ability to make it flawless can not be understated, and this performance reflected his success. During the encore he was frustrated by a malfunctioning amplifier which made the sound distant, frustrating him to the point of lyrical vulgarity. His disclosure and the ensuing compensatory performance made the issue laughable.

One problem of note with the venue was the mid-set notification by "customer service" personnel that Young's personal desire was not to allow drinks or food into the theater. This perturbed patrons who had waited at the concessions only to find they were not allowed in, resulting in a missed song. Doors were only opened between tunes to avoid disruption. Further, the confusion continued when word spread that perhaps beverages and food would be allowed in during the electric set. Whether this was true, and the reasoning if so, were befuddling.

Lest the crowd think the solo portion was noteworthy, they forgot that Neil Young is bona fide rock and roll. The versatility of writing and performing acoustic ballads AND delivering shredding, ripping guitar hero rock is astounding. Following the break the band (Rick Rosas, Ben Keith, Ralph Molina) took the stage with Young center stage. His duds were a loose fitting sport coat and slacks each with "paint stains". During the set every electric tune was preceded by a painting change on the aforementioned easel side stage, indicating the song title and a depiction, perhaps by Young's own hand. It provided an interested climax when the paintings were rotated by the somewhat comical stage hand, divulging each song selection. Most were off the new album but whatever the choice, crowd anticipation of the forthcoming presentation was palpable. Rarely are unfamiliar new originals greeted with eager suspense, especially with a basal repertoire of 35+ years. The crowning glory of the night was "No Hidden Path" which unequivocally will be in anyones top 5 list of songs when Neil Young is remembered in generations to follow. In fact, listening to the Chrome Dreams II CD one takes pause at the studio version, something I did prior to the show. The performance was unbridled solo jamming that I can only describe as Gilmour-esque. I would pay a lot of money to see those two on stage playing this song for 30 minutes, which would be too short. I also found it enlightening to find that Neil Young can play the guitar like any number of guitar heros that I formerly would have shook my head at in comparison. It was raw, spirited and resounding. It represented what he did all night, albeit in measured aliquots. What an ending.

Lastly, it would have been nice for Neil to introduce the band. None of the names are familiar to me, and neither did they make an impression of independent greatness. Still, I would be foolish to believe they weren't essential in the production. The understated, unassuming style of Neil Young may explain a tacit acceptance of his perfection in putting together this group, but more than that, making music that builds on a past that is a tour de force for the masses.


At 11/09/2007 01:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Innaresting observation about not introducing the band. I guess we sometimes forget that Ralph, Ben, and Rick are not household names (I don't get that?)

At 11/10/2007 10:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great review, although if you are a true Neil Young fan you would have recognized the band. All three are great players in their own right and have been involved with Neil for quite some time. I think your first comment was very likely from Neil himself.....


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