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Friday, December 12, 2008

Philadelphia Concert Reviews: 12/12/08

Cover photo by Joel Bernstein
Philadelphia Spectrum on either January 26 or 27, 1973

The album cover for the unreleased (on CD) "Time Fades Away" was taken at the Philadelphia Spectrum on the 1973 tour.

The Philadelphia Spectrum will be torn down next year to make way for the latest in trendy entertainment centers, but not before Neil Young plays a final concert tonight.

We're totally pumped up about this, have our GA floor tix in hand and are set for a road trip.

So bring a long stem rose to the concert and after the show, gather in front of the stage and we'll try and re-create the TFA album cover -- the holy grail of all Neil Young albums.

We'll be at McFadden's at Citizen's Bank Park, across Pattison Ave. from the Spectrum for the pre & post-show gathering.

The night is destined to be special with a full moon on the rise and a jumpin' tune. See you on the rail!

Neil Young will be performing tonight at The Wachovia Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Got a report? Drop a comment below. No registration required.

Check Sugar Mountain for setlist updates. Also, see Grid Chart on Rust Radio.

Also, see Neil Young 2008 Fall North American Tour and Concert Reviews and the right, middle sidebar for continuous real time RSS feed updates.


At 12/12/2008 06:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was there, and it was my first NY show. Linda Ronstadt opened with a set that was fairly well ignored by the 18,000 NY die-hards. As we all know, Neil played a smattering of "Harvest" tunes, and of course, the "Time Fades Away" songs, which were loud, rough and amazing. Among some tunes that folks may not remember Neil playing those 2 nights were "Here We Are In The Years" from the 1st solo LP. Not to be forgotten, Joel's cover photo from the Specrum stage (above photo) was later re-created with amazing accuracy prior to Stillwater taking the stage in the film "Almost Famous". Tonight's The Night!

AC in Voorhees, NJ

At 12/12/2008 07:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm... It may be a rumour, but I sure hope that means Neil will be back to Europe next year. Springsteen and Neil would be an epic combination of headliners.

Davie from Scotland

At 12/12/2008 08:04:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Time Fades Away" is still my favorite album; I got it the day it was released in October 1973 (on good old vinyl!).

Three (3) days till Neil is at MSG! I'm going to go and breathe the same air!!! Now I'm counting the hours.

See you there!

Marian M.

At 12/12/2008 08:44:00 AM, Blogger FiL said...

"Unreleased" Time Fades Away? Not was released in 1973.

At 12/12/2008 09:10:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks for point. We should clarify that TFA is long out of print and never released on CD and unavailable.

More details here.

At 12/12/2008 09:19:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anybody know what time Neil is supposed to come on stage tonight at the Spectrum? I've read that when he has 2 opening acts he comes on around 9:15.

At 12/12/2008 06:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

um you may want to be inside by 2030 hours

At 12/12/2008 08:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why should you be inside by 8:30? At MSG Neil shows up at 10, so I'm planning to show up at 9, because I have classes Monday. They can't refuse you entry if you show up late, can they?

~ Steel Madsen

At 12/13/2008 01:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

had tickets in 215 row 5 right by the boards. Roght after Wilco made the move towards the front and got down 40 feet away dead center. Neil seemed to really be enjoying himeslf tonight. It was a full moon show and the whole band played really tight. Great version of Going Back to the Country and Old Man with Ben on Steel and Larry on Banjo really sprecail. And being so close always makes it extra special. What a lead Neil played in CORTEZ and Sea Change and a few of the otehr new songs were really fresh. It was another night to remember and thanks Neil for RITFW year after year.

At 12/13/2008 08:37:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This concert was special to me. My first NY concert was the Rust Never Sleeps tour at the Spectrum. The first song was when the "roadies" where setting up the oversized equipment with "A Day in the Life" playing. How ironic he play the same song as his final song ever in the Spectrum.
I did not see anyone walking around with a red rose. Dying to hear how the Time Fades Away reinactment went! Anyone?
My favorites of the evening were Powderfinger & Oh Lonesome Me.
Neil says his current band can play anything, but I'll take the "imperfection" of Crazy Horse ANY day. Love them.
Neil was not very chatty as sometimes I have seen him. He got annoyed when he was introducing the band & the crowd was noisy.
RIP Spectrum, stay healthy Neil. Thank you for the music & wonderful memories.
Lyne M.

At 12/13/2008 08:45:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

12/12/2008 Philadelphia, Spectrum
Wilco was great and with a great version of Spiders. Here it free at their web site

Maybe my 20th concert for NY, I lost count. This show was good. However, unlike the last show, there was little new material and no excitement when playing a new CD for the first time. So if you like the greatest hits show, this concert is for you. Outstanding songs of the night included Cortez, Rocking in the Free World (at the speed of the original recording) and A Day in a Life. Plenty of jamming! No breaks, 2.5 hours long...I would not suggest drinking beer as you may miss any one of the good parts. Show was represented by young and old, similar to Weld tour. Although mostly greatest hits, they were played with life! The three new songs did not go over well. When Worlds collide went over the best.

Have fun if you plan to attent!! Alan

At 12/13/2008 09:17:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How ironic he play the same song as his final song ever in the Spectrum."
Coincidental. Definitely not ironic.

At 12/13/2008 09:34:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell Us Thrasher...what did you think? I'll be seeing him Monday night...cant wait!!

At 12/13/2008 12:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw Neil at the old Spectrum last night. Absolutely incredible! The guy still rocks with the best of them. A good mix of the new album & the radio staples that the college kids came to hear, and he dusted off some of the old classics too ( Powderfinger, Cowgirl In the Sand, Cortez the Killer ). It was one of the last shows at the Spec before they tear her down next year, and one of the best ever seen there. At one point between songs last night, Neil said, "They're gonna blow this place up after we leave. I hope we're not too late." The encore of The Beatles', "A Day In the Life" was beautiful.

At 12/13/2008 12:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darn, I am kicking myself for not getting to see this show! Does anyone know if NY will be by this way again?

At 12/13/2008 01:04:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely incredible show at the Spectrum....although that building is old and stuffy, Neil and the band brought it back to life. Loved "Powderfinger" and "Oh lonesome me" best.

Great night

At 12/13/2008 03:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

amazing concert last night at ye olde spectrum. as great as the tower shows were last year(especially the acoustics and setlists) this show rocked so much harder. the ambiance was just more conducive to having a good time, smokier, boozier and room to boogie if you were blessed to be on the floor. a show for philly to remember for the ages. thanks NEIL!!!

At 12/13/2008 03:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saw the Philly show. Neil was on fire! About 20 of us survived three hours in the wind weather to get into the first row. It was absolutely worth it. Some folks did throw roses on the stage. Neil smelled one, smiled and threw it back into the crowed. Did the same thing a while later. Only downer was his hissy fit after taking a drink of beer. Apparently it wasn't to his majesty's liking and he threw the entire bottle to the side of the stage. Poor Larry Craig had to mop up the mess and get his royal highness a new beer. The young woman next to me looked horrified at this childish display. Neil, now is not the time to get all celebrity on us. Maybe it was the full moon. Still, it's disappointing to see him act that way. Whatever he pays Mr. Craig, it isn't enough. Great show otherwise.

Neon Greene

At 12/13/2008 05:06:00 PM, Blogger Greg McGarvey said...

General Admisision = fun. Seats = not rock & roll, unless everyone is standing in front of them (a la R.E.M.'s Philadelphia appearance in June).

The opener's opener, Everest, was fantastic. Just seeing Everest and eating some french onion soup would have been a successful evening... but Everest followed by Wilco? It's a very slight exaggeration (because their sets were abbreviated) to say that those parts of the evening justified the cost of the ticket.

I want to move to the west coast and be Everest. I want to have considerably more friends who regularly wear both beards and scarves. I want to play with bass players who, like Everest's bass player, have McCartney-quality bass lines and Billy Talbot-quality facial expressions. In other words, the highest caliber of pop/rock & roll bass playing.

I liked the fact that Everest's and Wilco's equipment appeared to be about as old as Neil's. I rudely observed that Everest and Wilco have vintage guitars and amps because they sound so good, and that Neil and his friends have vintage guitars and amps because Neil and his friends are vintage.

Full moon. Friday night. Packed arena with 99.7% mellow crowd. Pot smoke being puffed very, very close to the spot where I stood. Nels Cline playing steel guitar parts on a surf guitar and making it sound better than most steel guitar players. Nels Cline breaking a string and responding by getting pissed and playing more intensely, the correct way for rock & roll guitarists to respond to a string breaking. Nels Cline breaking another string. And possibly a third. Jeff Tweedy waking up in the morning with already... "modest"... looks and deciding to augment those looks with the ugliest jean jacket in the world and the ugliest haircut in the world, then manipulating his hair while singing to mold it into faux bows... and, through all of this, remaining one of the coolest guys in rock & roll, and part of one of the U.S.'s most important cultural exports. And, also, one of the guys in Wilco was wearing a Colbert Report WristStrong bracelet. Me too.

By the way, the other 0.3% of the crowd was very NON-mellow, including a rude middle aged couple who, frankly, were a little too big to pretend they could just slither their way up to the front of the room unnoticed after showing up relatively late (during Wilco's set). One gentleman was especially pissed, rightfully so, but probably should have eventually heeded Jesus's advice to not "let the bastards get you down" (I don't remember which bible verse that is... sorry). Some of us almost got in the crossfire (figure of speech!!) of 2-3 fights, and we got to watch a very aggressive security team eject both a horribly intoxicated man... and a blue balloon. Mildly entertaining, sure, but the action on the stage would have sufficed.

I was proud to see that Philly (and, I assume, many parts of New Jersey) had already filled up the Spectrum pretty tightly during Wilco's set. Neil came out to a very packed room and immediately gave us a "Love And Only Love" with top-shelf guitar solos, and a 'Hey Hey, My My' with superb, "vocal melody be damned" energy. Those of us who know too much for our own good knew we'd probably hear "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" and "Powderfinger" next. Some of us have heard these songs too much, but that's not Neil's fault. Good performances, especially from my spot in roughly the eighth virtual row in General Admission Land.

Funny how often Neil flubs lyrics in "Spirit Road," one of the few songs he's played almost every time he's been on a stage for over a year. He recovered quickly though, and finished with a nice extended ending. Another emotional 'Cortez' followed, and another "Cinnamon Girl" with another long, crowd-engaging outro.

Those of us who attended the Philadelphia shows in both 2007 and 2008 heard "Oh, Lonesome Me" two times, much to the surprise of our pre-2007 selves.

Although this was my seventh Neil Young show, I had seen very little pump organ action (can I rephrase that?), just a few versions of "Bringing Down Dinner," during which I probably was distracted by the beautiful hippie girl in the center of the stage (I was twenty, I couldn't help it!). A beautiful version of the sometimes boring 'Mother Earth' helped remedy this problem.

There was soft red light on Neil prior to 'Needle' and, for a moment, I thought that I was watching red-suited Neil during the opening of the version in the Heart Of Gold film. Eery.

"Light A Candle" is beautiful, but, really, any time Neil Young is playing a minor key song on an acoustic guitar while Ben Keith plays beside him, it will be beautiful. See: early acoustic/dobro version of "Box Car" from late 1988.

I don't remember "Unknown Legend."

Neil didn't remember the unknown legend, Pegi, during the band introductions. As he began the next song, a guy behind me yelled, "who's the girl?" to my great amusement. Neil and Chad always couldn't remember when they started playing together. I yelled "Bluenotes!!" but I don't think I was of any assistance.

I don't want to be all pretentiousy (it's not a word, don't look it up) and say that "Heart Of Gold" and "Old Man" aren't incredible songs, but it says a lot about Neil Young that I waited until my seventh Neil Young show to hear EITHER of them. That alone makes me love the dude. And hearing them with Ben Keith, as nature intended, makes me love the songs again, too.

"Get Back To The Country," a longshot for a tour staple, is great fun, regardless of how little Jew's Harp is present in the current arrangement.

When Neil told the band, "let's try something else," I was hoping for a debut of a new song, or at least "Fuel Line." The first chord he played was the chord that begins "On The Beach" and I know that at least two of us briefly got our hopes up.

From a melodic standpoint, at least, I am a fan of 'Just Singing A Song.' Even more than that, I'm a fan of veteran musicians putting aside decades of Official Crowd Pleasers in favor of new music. I was disappointed to hear such a sloppy version of the song, though. Another song on which my personal verdict is still out (although there are rumblings from the jurors that "it's kinda dumb but I can'ts deny the beat"), "Sea Change," was also a little rough around the edges, but how often do we get to see Ben Keith ripping it up on a lap steel guitar? A sonic and visual event to keep in the mind's archive, for sure.

I remember someone writing that "When Worlds Collide" has "unexpected chord changes." I love them, and I love the weird vocal melody that accompanies them in the chorus. Again, another performance that I found somewhat unfocused and sloppy... but I'm sure we'll hear more of it.

Rarely has a musician been as underutilized as Anthony Crawford is in the context of this tour. I recall him showing signs of virtuosic abilities on the International Harvesters tour... twenty-five years ago. I can't imagine what his guitar/mandolin playing is like around the campfire these days. But restraint is called for in this role, and he's playing it well.

Neil did 'Cowgirl' justice (no mean feat) with an expressive, 11-minute version that renewed my feeling of elation about being in that particular spot of Earth at that moment, and transcended the pain that many parts of my body felt after five hours on my feet. I was impressed to see Neil approach Chad and drop the instrumental's intensity at a moment's notice.

A correct-tempo (Lost Dogs!) 'Free World' followed, complete with encouragement of fist-pumping from Neil, and a false ending and chorus reprise that caught most of the crowd by surprise.

Those of us who spend far too much time reading about music were not surprised by the "A Day In The Life" encore, but I found joy in breathing in the amazement from those around me... not to mention the power of the performance itself. I seem to recall that many of us were pogoing by this song, if not RIFTW. Neil got some sick, high-pitch, low-speed feedback, just prior to a reprise of the "ahh" section and commencement of the guitar string massacre.

Guitar teachers probably don't teach you how to slap broken strings against your pickups in order to achieve the sound of Earth's final thunderstorm, or a pterodactyl on his way to a fight... but that's why we have Neil Young and Old Black.

It's why I have an IKEA Flöökenshizöën CD box filled with nothing but live Neil Young CDs, most of which have the words "Crazy Horse," "Bluenotes," "Ten Men Working," "Restless," "Lost Dogs," or "His Electric Band" scrawled on the top of them in marker.

The show ended when Neil put down his guitar and walked off-stage. Then the show restarted when Neil suddenly appeared next to Pegi, searched for the "G" and "B" notes on the vibraphone, struck them, waited for the notes to ring out, and then sheepishly waved goodbye to let the crowd know that the show really WAS over. Rick couldn't help but smack one of Old Black's strings around as he made his way off-stage, giving us one last reverbsplosion.

In my opinion, it was an 8 out of 10 concert, from a performer who is capable of 12 out of 10 concerts. Most people in the room did not and will not see a better show this year, but Neil Young can and will put on more spiritually-elevated shows than he did in Philadelphia. It was a fantastic show, but I predict even better things in Boston and New York City.

I missed the RustFest but happened to end up right next to Nan and assumed the red rose she was carrying meant she was a Neil Dork of some kind. :) And sure enough, I found a Rustie! And then a bunch more later. I was so happy to meet all of you, and pose for a pic with Thrasher and some roses. I hope I didn't bang into anyone while doing my patented Lower Back Pain Dance, but I probably did. Sorry.

Is that bearded guy who was talking about Patti Smith / the 2005 XPN Fest a Rustie?

On the topic of Rusties, how weird is it to be surrounded by faces you've never seen before and, when someone calls and asks where you are, respond, "I'm with some friends"?


P.S. Forget Neil; Ed and Flying Gonz are my heroes! I just listened to both recordings in my Sennheisers while writing this.

P.P.S. Look what I found: . I would love to see someone ask him how playing with Neil Young compares with playing with Amy Grant. :P

At 12/13/2008 05:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got stuck in traffic on the D.C beltway and then again on 95 heading into Philly.I was gonna miss most of the show anyway,so I turned around and drove the 7 hours home.What a bummer.Thanks for the reviews and thanks for the tapers who got the show.I'm listening to it now.

At 12/13/2008 09:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

12/12 was my first time seing Neil Young: in Philadelphia and the legendary Spectrum, no less; Neil acknowledged that the Spectrum was to be demolished in 09; He gave the joint a fantastic send off: he rocked a HOLE in the side of the Spectrum. The acoustic set was beautiful and of course the finale was ELECTRIC. Neil, so glad I got to see you finally. Outstanding.

At 12/14/2008 11:52:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife and I were at the show along w/my sister Vickie and boyfriend Butcher,longtime NY rocker.The show was great Neil rocked as always. When did he make the switch to the beatup old black,and was he really mad when intoducing the band. Also why did he throw the beer, pissed off or full moon for Neil. Also Paul if you read this give me a call you goofy prick. Rock on Neil.Hope to see you again in 2009..

At 12/14/2008 01:04:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stellar post Greg - great to meet you and to see Thrasher and Thrasherette again at the fest.

How weird is it to be standing on the floor talking to someone you've never met and have them ask you if you're a Rustie? :) (I forgot I was carrying the rose. I'm thinking, "What the hell, do I have a big R on my forehead?" lol...) It's not the first time that sort of thing has happened to me though. My first year at Bridge back in 2001 I was standing on the hill of the driveway outside the front gate staring out over the crowd waiting to get in. I saw this tall guy in a tie-dyed tee shirt standing about 100 yards away (!) Never seen him before, but I just had a feeling. I walked up to him feeling like an idiot and said, "Excuse me, but are you Pinecone Pat?" (a guy I had emailed with on the old CSNY Music Today board). He just looked at me and said "Yes, I am!" And we introduced ourselves laughing hysterically. How did I pick him out of the crowd? I still don't know. I had no idea what he looked like before I met him. It must be a tribal thing. :)

Old Enough

At 12/14/2008 01:07:00 PM, Blogger Greg McGarvey said...

haha! so cool.

yep, it was the rose. :D

At 12/17/2008 09:52:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoyed Neil's set and both opening bands. Wilco really blew me away. I hope to see them as headliners in 2009. As others have already stated here, it was a bit disappointing that Neil's set was based around his "greatest hits" but he didn't phone any of them in. He played his heart out.

I posted a really long review of the show on my blog. I'm not gonna cut and paste it here because it'd take up too much damn room. But if you're interested, here it is:

Thanks for reading!


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