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Friday, June 26, 2009

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.

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At 6/27/2009 04:08:00 AM, Blogger astrololee said...

Congratulaions for giving the most comprehensive review on a Neil Young Concert, ever. Your words held me spellbound to the end of par.7, wishing that I had been there with you. I even had a chuckle about the crowd being able to catch their breath when he did GBTW (which I happen to like but love "Off The Road" even more so")and also the bit about the younger crowd asking if he was doing covers. It's still a bit sad that the youngies don't know how great this guy really is, however hopefully they will learn especially in light of the great reviews he is receiving for his current round on concerts.
I certainly agree that his current band is a great accompaniment to Neil's freelance style of performance delivery. They just seem to fit into what ever he's doing at the time and Anthony's new album is worth a listen to.
Steve thanks again for your thoughts and words, have fun in
Hyde Park tonight, for all of us downunder that can't make it.
Lee Qld Aust

At 6/28/2009 12:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey guys! writing this from a cafe overlooking lake garda in italy.
The day before we left for hols i got home from another bad day at work to be (insert expletive) blown away that my wife had got us tickets to see Neil that night in Nottingham!!! jump straight back in car, drive down from sheffield and get treated to the most unbelievable gig, well, maybe ever. This was the 6th time i've seen Neil live, but only my wife's second - the first being the unbelievable show in Manchester in March '08. From the word "go" he wanted it. Crowd - brilliant and so responsive to neil it was a joy to be part of the masses, as usually i crave the 'intimate gig' that we will never get (along with dylans millions of course). Neil's energy was fkin electric and i'm getting shivers just thiking about it!!! Highlights? where to start. DLIBYD is an all-timne favourite and i've been lucky enough to see him play this live before so i guess I have to say the iclusion of Words was enough to send me to another world.
Sorry guys this is rambling and i'm gettin pretty hot so just a quick thanks to Neil for giving us the most unbelievable nights entertainemnt we could have ever wished for, and thanks for being a constant inspiration in our lives.

Blown away.....


At 6/28/2009 08:29:00 PM, Anonymous Cougar Microbes said...

Thanks for a brilliant review. Really captured the show. I agree that this band truly complete Neil's style.

A little criticism from me was that letting each outro and intro drag so long was a bit self indulgent. Especially on the (seemingly) never ending Rockin In The Free World.

Having got that off my chest I have to say I was delighted by the show. Neil and the bands performances were epic and I was really moved.

Go easy on the younger fans, its great to hear people are still being turned on to a true legend.

Thanka again for a wonderful write up. Hope you enjoyed hyde park too, I think I will review it as well.

At 12/04/2009 11:49:00 PM, Anonymous Charlie-pink. said...

This was the second time I had the pleasure of seeing Neil Young in concert - the first being at the Hop Farm festival. I must admit that it has been a strange journey learning to love music that I associate so much with my father.
Both times we (my dad and I) have found our way to the front of the crowd and I must admit that the advantage of being able to see it in person, rather than on the screens, was something which meant a lot to me. Rest assured some youngsters do love and appreciate his music. The set had me hooked, and I forgot I was surrounded by the older generation, as the crowd was likewise lost in the music. Definitely one of the best live shows I have seen!


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