Concert Review of the Moment: Nottingham, England: 6/23/09
The Neil Young Concert Review of the Moment is from Nottingham, England: 6/23/09 on Rust Never Sleeps "Magic down by the river Trent" by Steve in York:
It’s easy to forget that Neil Young is, literally, on the verge of becoming the proverbial “Old Man” – but, bizarrely, as he strode out on to the stage looking leaner and fitter than he has in years – no doubt the result of incessant touring – I felt like I was watching the Neil Young of the early 90’s in his jeans, faded t-shirt and dishevelled hair. As the opening riff of “Hey, hey…” sound blasted the entire arena it quickly became clear that tonight was gonna be LOUD!
The current Electric Band are, in my opinion, the perfect foil for Neil at this stage of his career. Chad Cromwell’s drumming is miles away from Ralph Molina’s and it is clear that Neil trusts him in a way he probably couldn’t trust his old Crazy Horse companion. Rick Rosas holds court at the back of the stage leaving Neil free to go on any musical journey he wants while Ben Keith, the versatile and often under-rated Anthony Crawford and Pegi Young fill in all the gaps.
Neil was having fun tonight and it came through in his playing. Mansion On The Hill, a stomping Are You Ready For The Country? and Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere set the scene for a real journey through the past. It was clear that Neil was having a good time when he reacted to random shouts and song requests with “We record these shows, ya know? I’ll listen to it later to see if I can figure out what you’re all saying… but not right now” with a cheesy grin across his face.
The first major highlight for me was when Chad Cromwell kicked in with a heavy tom-tom intro that I must confess led me to think that we were gonna be treated to Fuckin’ Up but no, instead we got an awesome grunge version of my favourite song from Rust Never Sleeps – Pocahontas – complete with reversed verses. It was awesome and proved that when you write a great song it can be played in any style and sound great. So how do you top that? Simple. An amazing Words followed by a shit kicking Cinnamon Girl where the guitar outro lasted longer than the song itself with Neil patrolling the stage from right to left before eventually letting our eardrums rest. Mother Earth was sung beautifully. In fact for the entire show I was amazed at what good shape Neil’s voice is in. This was confirmed when Don’t Let It Bring You Down blew me away. Neil hit every note and if I’d closed my eyes I would have sworn I was listening to the 1971 BBC version. It was fantastic and was my second major high of the show. A rather pedestrian Comes A Time led into the next highlight. It was Buffalo Springfield Again as a Motownesque On The Way Home followed by Burned really hit the spot, although a few people standing near me were clearly a bit bemused, especially two teenagers, one of whom asked me if they were cover versions!
Heart Of Gold and Old Man were followed by a truly gargantuan Down By The River. I am in no position to compare this version to Crazy Horse as I had never seen the song performed live before but I, and thousands of others, were spellbound as Neil and the band weaved their magic and gave me a musical memory I will never forget. It probably wasn’t wise to follow such a showstopper with Get Behind The Wheel, the only track from 2009’s Fork In The Road but at least it allowed everyone to catch their breath before the final sonic attack. The crowd, for the first real time, went berzerk as Rockin’ In The Free World kicked in and when it eventually ended… it started again! Chad wouldn’t let the song end and it must have been on the fourth attempt that the speakers were allowed to fade to silence.
As the crowd’s demand for more reached ever more deafening levels I wondered if Neil had any surprises for us but not really. We all knew A Day In The Life was coming and although I think this song has probably reached the end of it’s shelf life it was still great to watch the ritual destruction of Old Black’s strings!
All in all a terrific show and luckily for me I get to watch it all again on Saturday in Hyde Park.
Also, see Steve's site Rust Never Sleeps.
Thanks Steve in York!
Also, see Nottingham, England Neil Young Concert Reviews: 6/23/09.