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Neil Young's new album EARTH released on June 17th. The album with The Promise of the Real, is from the 2015 tour. Pre-order here
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ragged Glory Never Sleeps: Toronto Concert Review

From a concert review of Neil Young @ Toronto's Air Canada Centre, December 4, 2008 by Jules:
Ragged Glory Never Sleeps

Neil Young was in both his hard-rocking and acoustic folksinger modes on the first of two sold out shows at the Air Canada Centre. Fueled from last year’s successful Chrome Dreams Continental tour, where his shows started with an acoustic set, followed by a short intermission, and finishing with an electric set, tonight’s show was Crazy Horse-like from beginning to end, the intermission scrapped liked rusted metal.

Wearing a black paint-spattered jacket, white t-shirt and blue jeans, Neil took to an identical Massey Hall stage (of last December), a stage littered with standing lights, a wooden Indian to the left side and an old neon marquee filled with letters hanging above. This was vintage Neil, in that trance-like state, swaying back and forth. A rousing applause greeted Neil and his noisy Gibson Les Paul as he opened with “Love and Only Love” from 1990’s remarkable Ragged Glory. The music was absolutely exhilarating and you can see the intensity in the face of this ageless music icon as he continued with “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)”. With Young rocking back and forth and fans singing along to this classic, he purposely stuttered the line about it being better to burn out than to "fa-fa-fade away".

Neil Young was illuminated all night long. It was like having a trouble light hanging from the underside of his aging two-tonne Lincoln hood, casting a light down on him, His Electric Band in the shadows. It was after “Spirit Road” that Neil would say “How you doing Toronto. Thanks for being here. It’s nice to be here.” before continuing with “Cortez The Killer” and singing “And I know she’s living there / And she loves me to this day” as he turned his head back, smiling at his wife Pegi.

The mellower side of Neil would bring loud cheers, especially with the first sounds of his harmonica, singing “Everybody’s goin’ out and havin’ fun / I’m a fool for stayin’ home and havin’ none,” in his morose version of Don Gibson’s “Oh, Lonesome Me”, a song he first performed in the thick haze of cigarette smoke at the Bohemian Embassy coffee house in the ’60s. Sitting at a pipe organ at the back of the stage, Neil’s harmonica would start off “Mother Earth” before continuing on the keys. Now, alone on stage with his acoustic, “The Needle And The Damage Done” sounded exactly like it first appeared on 1972’s Harvest. The band would return, and a new song, “Light A Candle” would be played, before finishing with “Unknown Legend”, “Heart Of Gold” (with everyone singing along) and “Old Man” (Neil on acoustic and longtime roadie Larry Cragg on banjo).

The night would end in absolute mayhem with “Rockin' In The Free World” and a feedback-heavy cover of the Beatles’ “A Day In The Life” that concluded with Young ripping all the strings of his famous Old Black.

Thanks Jules!

More on Neil Young in Toronto, Ontario Concert Reviews: 12/4 & 5/08.

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