Neil Young's new release ""World Record" w/ Crazy Horse is now available for pre-order. Order here
(Please shop locally & independently. But if you can't, we appreciate your supporting Thrasher's Wheat by clicking this link or YOUR COUNTRY's FLAG. Thank you!!!)
<-Older Posts Blog Home Newer Posts->

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Concert Review of the Moment: Neil Young in Albany, NY - May 18, 2010

The Neil Young Concert Review of the Moment is from Albany, NY, May 18, 2010 by Chris:
For those of you who still want to be surprised (as if anything else is expected at a Neil show), read no further. Consider this a "spoiler warning" if you will. I had the good fortune of seeing Neil on the first leg of the tour so, like every else in the audience, I was in a position of having absolutely no idea what to expect. This uncertainty lent even more excitement to some of the moments I'm about to describe.

Mine as well arrange this report in accordance with the chronology of the show. So, first let me confess to knowing very little about Bert Jansch, the opening act. I know he's one of Neil's biggest influences and I know that Neil essentially ripped (albeit subconsciously) the opening chords from Jansch's "Needle of Death" to Neil's own "Ambulance Blues." My unfamiliarity with Jansch's music probably doesn't make me the best person to judge his performance. All I could say was that the 7 or 8 songs he played (most of which were bluesy/folky acoustic numbers originating in Britain and Ireland) all had the feeling of a nice warm blanket (rendered even nicer by the dreary, rainy night here in Albany).

As unexciting and uninformative the following portrayal may be, one word kept coming into my head to describe Jansch's tunes: pleasant. That's not to say his songs were in any way simplistic or basic or boring. On the contrary, the guy can fucking play the acoustic guitar. And while Neil Young can stand up to him in terms of the emotional quality of his playing, Jansch runs circles around Neil technique-wise. The only real complaint I had with Jansch's set is that idiot audience members kept yelling "Neil" between songs. Someday I'll write an article about proper concert etiquette because I find it fucking appalling the amount of buffoonery at what should be an intimate performance. Anyway, Jansch played for about 40 minutes after starting right on time (8 PM).

After a brief intermission, I returned to my seat (which was located, by the way, in the 7th row. Cost me a pretty penny, but I spare no expense when Neil comes to town. Plus, this may be the last chance I get to see him. You just never know with Neil). To my surprise and delight, the stagehands were placing electric guitars in a semi-circle around the stage: I spotted what looked like a rusty Strat, his white Gretsch, and, of course, Old Black. I, too, was under the impression that it would all be acoustic so I was excited to see his axes at his disposal.

At about 9 PM, the lights darkened, and Neil nonchalantly walked across the stage to uproarious applause. He picked up his acoustic and his harm and got right down to business with "My My, Hey Hey." Well, he tried to anyway. He got through the opening riff and then hellacious feedback caused him to stop a few times. Once he finished the song, he plowed right ahead with "Tell Me Why" and "Helpless." Overall, a nice way to start a show. You just know he had to appease the asshole "fans" who would have demanded a refund if he didn't play at least a couple songs from his more commercially successful albums. Since he followed with a string of head-scratchers (which I happened to love), it was clear he was just getting the acoustic gems (all of which were nice) out of the way.

Because Neil is Neil he followed the three opening fan-favorites with three new songs, all on what looked like a strat that I had never seen him play: 4) "I'm Working(?)", a tongue-in-cheek, often ironic-seeming ballad about what we do on Earth (work) compared to what people do in heaven. I felt the song caved in under its own weight, but one of the last lines "And I know Ben's with you [in heaven?]" gave the song an emotional, serious, personal touch it badly needed. 5) "The Dusty Valley(?)", a Thrasher-esque epic of white westward expansion and colonization over Native Americans. Like many of Neil's historical-based songs, this one also fast-forwarded a couple hundred years to our current state. 6) "Love and War(?)," a commentary on religious fanaticism as it relates to both war and love. Neil's wordplay and observations make this number a great one. The chronological progression of the songs also happens to parallel that of their quality; that is, I think "Love and War" was the best sounding, tightest, most releaseable-ready song of the three.

Back to the hits. The 7th song played was "Down by the River" on Old Black. It was the tightest, shortest non-acoustic versions of the song that I've ever heard. He dropped the last verse and the jams between the remaining 2 verses were just simple variations--if not altogether repeats--of that wonderful Em/A opening chord riff. Hearing Old Black growl during the bridge made the song certainly worthwhile. After its conclusion, he played an unrecognizable, angry, foot-stomping riff that kept everybody in suspense as to the song's identity. And then: "When I was hitchhiker, on the road." I like to think he played the song for me personally because it was the last song that I played at my house before leaving for the show. Of course, he was really playing it for the diehards. Whatever his intended audience, though, is sort of besides the point. What's important is taht everyone seemed to love it and it was during "Hitchhiker" that Neil was at his most pissed off and at his best for the night. What was also cool was he added a verse at the end of the song that mentioned his family and his wife--an uplifting take on what is a somber song.

He then shelved Old Black for the Gretsch and went right into Ohio. Nothing remarkable here, but the crisp, precise guitar playing of Neil and his decision to replace the 2nd verse with "Oohs" and "Aahs" (a la Massey Hall's version), certainly made the song enjoyable. He played "Sign of Love (?)" next with the same Gretsch guitar. Don't really remember much about the song, what could very well say something about the song's enduring quality (or maybe more about the fact that it was dark as night in there and I could barely see my own hand as it tried to write).

The 11th song was a bubble-gum sounding piano ballad that went back and forth between two treble chords. It was dedicated to Leia (spelling?), a "new friend of Neil's." No, this won't be the next "After the Gold Rush" or "A Man Needs A Maid," but for what Neil was trying to do with the song, I think he succeeded, if only on a personal level.

Next came "After the Gold Rush" on an organ, updated so that mother nature is "on the run in the '21st Century'" as opposed to the "1970s." The organ was positioned up against the far wall so Neil's back was to the audience. I found this such a wonderful symbol of Neil's "I don't give a fuck" attitude (then again, maybe he just couldn't put the organ anywhere else, what with the two pianos and handful of guitars taking up the space on the small stage).

I was happy he stayed on the album "After the Gold Rush" with "I Believe in You," my personal favorite from the disc. Neil played this on a piano and his voice, while certainly lacking the reach and grab-you-by-the-soul falsetto of what we hear on "Massey Hall," is still in remarkable shape. Yes, he takes less chances with his singing (and, at his age, who could blame him?), but I didn't hear him screw up once.

He followed "I Believe in You" with an environmental epic on his Gretsch called "All Around(?)". What I remember most vividly from this song was that one of the lines keeps repeating the word "vibrate" or "vibration," and as Neil belted out the line, he would strum bass notes on his Gretsch, sending feedback-laced sound waves through the crowd, causing our bodies to literally vibrate. It was a nice, visceral touch on what seemed to me (on first listen, mind you) a fairly forgettable song.

At this point, someone from the audience yelled "Old Man!" Neil, sharp as ever, replies, "I know...64 and there's so much more," in his typical Canadian humor. This guy is just such a master that lines like these seem to just roll right through him.

For the last two songs of the regular set he brought back Old Black. First, he played "Cortez the Killer" and then "Cinnamon Girl." Like "Down by the River," both of these songs lacked the 20 minute guitar solos that peppered the versions of previous electric tours. Not that that's a bad thing. It was refreshing to hear versions of songs that I've never heard. Neil seemed to trust the natural artistic integrity of the sound of Old Black (which, in the days of digital, is wonderfully singular) rather than his own thrashing in communicating much of the ethos of the songs. Of course, letting the beast growl was especially neat to listen to in a small, intimate theater. It had the crisp, precise sound that was missing when I last saw him at Madison Square Garden.

Thanks Chris! Awesome job.

Also, see more concert reviews of Neil Young in Albany, NY, May 18, 2010 and Neil Young's "Twisted Road" Concert Tour Schedule and Reviews.


At 5/20/2010 01:08:00 AM, Anonymous Mr Henry said...

Would you be my little movie star
Would you be my long lost girl
Matthew Sweet

God Bless You and Your Wife Doug...and thanks so much for sharing your story with all of us. My sadness was very deep while reading your story and I'm thinking of you both now. I really, really hope that you enjoyed tonight's show with all of our heart and soul. The life that we live is sometimes difficult to comprehend and even almost impossible to bear...but then the birds sing and the sun comes out when things are at their absolute worst. Namaste my brother.

Thanks to Chris for the great, late night review....long may you run my friend.

And I know she's living there
and she loves me to this day.

At 5/20/2010 07:23:00 AM, Blogger Jeff Monkman said...

Thanks for the great review!

At 5/20/2010 12:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The way Chris describes the new songs is gettin' me innarested in hearing them.Can't wait for the new album to come out.:)

Rancho Relaxo


Post a Comment

<< Home

<-Older Posts Blog Home Newer Posts->

Willie for a Nobel!

Willie Nelson for Nobel Peace Prize
for Farm Aid and his work on
alternative fuels, and world peace initiatives.

Farm Aid

Go Farmers Markets!

"In the >field< of opportunity
It's plowin' time again."

Silverline Communications

(Home of the FarmAidians)
Tecumseh, Ontario, Canada
(519) 737-7979

This blog supports free speech!

Demand justice for Aaron:
Support "Aaron's Law" and inquiry into his prosecution

(... he didn't kill himself either...) #AaronDidntKillHimself

Induct Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Please Help Support Independent Media &
Non-Corporate Advertising
This Blog's For You!

The Hypocrisy of the Mainstream Media

It's Been Called The
"Missing Link" in the Ditch Trilogy


Sign the Release "Time Fades Away" Petition
Join The 10,000+ Who Have Already Signed


Neil Young Appreciation Society

Sugar Mountain

Neil Young Setlists
Rust Radio


Bands Covering Neil Young songs


Official Neil Young News Site

The Bridge School

The Bridge School Concerts
25th Anniversary Edition

**100% of Proceeds to Benefit Bridge School***

The Essential Neil Young

Fans Favorite Neil Albums

Top 50 MP3
Neil Young Song Downloads

Top 10 Best Selling Neil Albums Today
Support Thrasher's Wheat
via Purchases from:
United States - us.gif
Canada - canada.gif
United Kingdom - gb.gif
Germany - de.gif

Neil Young Songbook Project

In the fields of wheat

"Children of Destiny" will NOT be harvested
However, the chaff will be burned by unquenchable fire

Neil Young + Promise of the Real

Europe 2016 Tour Dates

2015 Rebel Content Tour

Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Alchemy Concert Tour Reviews

Fall 2012 N. America Tour
Spring 2013 Australia/New Zealand Tour
Summer 2013 Europe Tour

Europe Summer 2014 Concert Tour
Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Thrasher's Wheat Radio Supporters Go To Europe

Neil Young Films

2010 MusiCares Honors Neil Young

Features Elvis Costello, Crosby Stills & Nash, Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban, Ben Harper, Elton John, Norah Jones, Lady Antebellum, Dave Matthews, James Taylor, Keith Urban, and others.
Proceeds from sales go to MusiCares,
which helps musicians in need of
financial and medical assistance.


"There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye"



Neil Young FAQ:
Everything Left to Know About the Iconic and Mercurial Rocker
"an indispensable reference"

Paul McCartney and Neil Young


"You can make a difference
If you really a try"

John Lennon and Neil Young

"hailed by fans as a wonderful read"

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:
The Supergroup of the 20th Century

Director Jonathan Demme's Exquisite film "Heart of Gold"

eddie & neil
Eddie Vedder and Neil Young

Revisiting The Significance of
The Buffalo Springfield

"The revolution will not be televised"
... it will be blogged, streamed,
tweeted, shared and liked
The Embarrassment of Mainstream Media

Turn Off Your TV & Have A Life

"Everything Is Bullshit" +
"Turn Off The News"
Turn Off the News (Build a Garden)

Neil Young 2016 Year in Review:
The Year of The Wheat

Kurt Cobain
Kurt Cobain and Neil Young

Neil Young's Feedback:
An Acquired Taste?

Young Neil: The Sugar Mountain Years
by Rustie Sharry "Keepin' Jive Alive in T.O." Wilson

"the definitive source of Neil Young's formative childhood years in Canada"

neil & joni
Joni Mitchell & Neil Young

europe 1987.jpg

Bob and Neil

So Who Really Was "The Godfather of Grunge"?

Four Dead in Ohio
kent state
So What Really Happened at Kent State?

The Four Dead in Ohio

May The FOUR Be With You #MayThe4thBeWithYou


dissent is not treason
Dissent is the highest form of patriotism

Rockin' In The Free World

Sing Truth to Power!
When Neil Young Speaks Truth To Power,
The World Listens

Emmylou Harris and Neil Young

Wilco and Neil Young


Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young


Elton John and Neil Young

Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young


The Meaning of "Sweet Home Alabama" Lyrics

Neil Young Nation -
"The definitive Neil Young fan book"

What does the song mean?

Random Neil Young Link of the Moment

Bonnie Raitt and Neil Young

I'm Proud to Be A Union Man


When Neil Young is Playing,
You Shut the Fuck Up

Class War:
They Started It and We'll Finish It...

A battle raged on the open page...
No Fear, No Surrender. Courage

"What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees?"
Full Disclousre Now

"I've Got The Revolution Blues"

Willie Nelson & Neil Young
Willie Nelson for Nobel Peace Prize

John Mellencamp:
Why Willie Deserves a Nobel



Love and Only Love

"Thinking about what a friend had said,
I was hoping it was a lie"

We're All On
A Journey Through the Past

Neil Young's Moon Songs
Tell Us The F'n TRUTH
(we can handle it... try us)

Does Anything Else Really Matter?

"Nobody's free until everybody's free."
~~ Fannie Lou Hamer

Here Comes "The Big Shift"

Maybe everything you think you know is wrong? NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS
"It's all illusion anyway."

Propaganda = Mind Control
Guess what?
"Symbols Rule the World, not Words or Laws."
... and symbolism will be their downfall...

Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge
Be The Rain, Be The Change

the truth will set you free
This Machine Kills Fascists

"Children of Destiny" - THE Part of THE Solution

(Frame from Official Music Video)

war is not the answer
yet we are
Still Living With War

"greed is NOT good"
Hey Big Brother!
Stop Spying On Us!
Civic Duty Is Not Terrorism

The Achilles Heel
Orwell (and Grandpa) Was Right
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.”
~~ Bob Marley

The Essence of "The Doubters"

Yes, There's Definitely A Hole in The Sky

Even Though The Music Died 50+ Years Ago
Open Up the "Tired Eyes" & Wake up!
"consciousness is near"
What's So Funny About
Peace, Love, & Understanding & Music?


Show Me A Sign

"Who is John Galt?"
To ask the question is to know the answer

"Whosoever shall give up his liberty for a temporary security
deserves neither liberty nor safety."

~~ Benjamin Franklin


(Between the lines of age)

And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make

~~ John & Paul

the zen of neil
the power of rust
the karma of the wheat