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Saturday, April 25, 2009

In Search of Neil Young in Kelowna

Here's an amusing Neil Young story from Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada by Kevin Parnell at Neil recently played at Kelowna on 4/22/09. (Reprinted with permission by
When I heard Neil Young was coming to Kelowna I jumped into action. This was going to be it. I was going to interview the great Canadian musician.

You see I’ve seen Neil before but never this close to home.

This was my chance and I wasn’t going to let it slip by.

At first I was turned back.

E-mails to his web site were not returned nor were notes sent to his management company.

Live Nation replied. But the concert promoter said no interviews available. Sorry.

Well so was I. There went my best opportunity to meet Neil Young.

But I wasn’t going to miss the show. Heck I was online as soon as the tickets were on sale. When it comes to Neil I’m fan (atic) first, journalist second.

But when the day of the concert came it all came flooding back. This was an opportunity.

I’ve watched The Fifth Estate, I know what good reporters are supposed to do. You want the story you go get the story, son.

So off to Prospera I went, reporter’s notebook in hand, camera over my shoulder, Neil Young shirt on my back.

There were the busses and trucks lined up in the parking lot.

But no sign of Neil.

There were open doors and an open invitation for a member of journalistic nation.

There was the stage and there were the dressing rooms, complete with lists of band names, people cooking, music playing.

But no Neil.

I was there. I was nervous. What would I say?

Then I was asked to leave.

Walking around the outside of the building that would soon host a legend, I took another tact.

What would I do if I were Neil with my family, near the lake in Kelowna?

So I walked to the beach and around the boardwalk. There was someone passed out on the grass. There was someone rolling some grass. There were some moms with babies.

But there was no Neil.

Turned back at every corner, stonewalled in my attempts to interview Neil Young, I decided to camp out for awhile. I saw his bus, I saw some roadies.

But Neil, I did not see.

So I went back to the comfort of the office, cranking some Neil, happy just to be a fan and happy to have tickets in hand.

And here's Kevin' review of Neil's concert in Kelowna.
From the opening chords of his Buffalo Springfield classic Mr. Soul, through a long acoustic set and to an encore of Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower, Canadian music legend Neil Young showed a Kelowna audience on Wednesday night that he is far from fading away.

Young, 63, alternately tore through an electric set and strummed acoustic songs for two hours and 10 minutes Wednesday with songs ranging from classics to diamonds in the rough.

His voice nearly perfect, his guitar playing frenetic, Young said little, instead opting to dominate the stage with a unique setlist, giving the sellout crowd everything it could handle. And the love (and smoke) flowed back freely for the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.

For Young fans it was the best of every world. At times he was the grunge rocker, strangling spine-tingling notes from his famous 1953 Les Paul electric guitar nicknamed Old Black.

Storming around the stage in the jeans and flannel shirt that helped earn him the nickname Godfather of Grunge, Young rocked hard on numbers like Cinnamon Girl, When You Dance, Words and Fuel Line, the first of a handful from his new album Fork in the Road.

He then turned folkie and ran through a beautiful acoustic set, ranging from Mother Earth from 1990’s Ragged Glory, and featuring lyrics that remain current today, to classics like Old Man and Heart of Gold, the song from 1972s Harvest that, at the time, sent him barreling towards a less-mainstream muse.

Heart of Gold remains Young’s only number one hit. He later said, “This song put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I met more interesting people there.”

After the beauty of the acoustic set, which spotlighted Young’s painfully sweet falsetto voice, Wednesday's concert was headed in a different direction as well.

Striding to the piano Young played two songs from 1975’s Tonight’s the Night, a dark and dreary ode to former Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry, both of whom died of drug overdoses while working for Neil.

Following the bluesy Speaking Out, Young played a spooky version of Tonight’s the Night.

“It sent a chill up and down my spine,” he wailed, “when I picked up the telephone and learned that he died out on the mainline.”

Songs from Young’s new album Fork In the Road, an eco-themed rocker, provided the most upbeat, straight ahead rock and roll of the night.

Just Singin a Song won’t change the world, he sang on one tune, while telling folks you can sing about change while making some yourself.

The closer, perhaps the definitive cover of Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower, brought the night to an end in a flurry of feedback.

Many acts have come to Prospera and many will be there again. But if you missed Neil Young you missed the boat. One of the most unique, current, expressive and exciting acts of all time, was on his game and then some.

And like the twists and turns that have marked his career along the way, who knows when he will ever decide to come back.

Thanks Kevin! Great story. Glad you enjoyed the show.

Also, see concert reviews of Neil Young at Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada on 4/22/09.

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At 4/27/2009 03:53:00 PM, Blogger Matthew Lintzenich said...

The failed quest to interview Neil Young provides for a really funny read. I love how Kevin goes all over the place looking and looking, and eventually just abruptly decides, "Oh well!" and just gives up in this really flat, almost matter-of-fact way.


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