Concert Review of the Moment: Neil Young in Washington, DC, May 24, 2010
The Neil Young Concert Review of the Moment is from Washington, DC, May 24, 2010 by Jeff Taylor, Neil Young Tribute.
I arrived at Constitution Hall four hours early to visit with other Rusties at the Exchange Saloon on G Street in DC before Neil's solo concert on May 24, 2010. Although I met a bunch of cool Neil fans and wanted to hang out with them longer than I did, I was itching to get to the Hall to see if I could spot and actually meet Neil. I came prepared for such an occasion. I brought with me a cool 13x19 poster of Neil in his early days and three of my Neil Young Tribute tee-shirts for Neil to autograph should I have the chance to actually meet my “master”.
Glenn and I went around the back of the Hall around 5:30pm and spotted Neil’s 18 wheeler and tour bus. His bus was very cool indeed. On the top of his bus it looked to me like he had a 50’s Buick Roadmaster Sedan front end and two of the same tops welded onto to the top of his bus.
It was about 8:30pm and lo and behold the bus door opens and there he was, big as life. I handed him my 13x19 poster and he autographed it for me. After he autographed my poster, he slowly walked to the back door leading to the stage never stopping for anyone else. Those twenty seconds of meeting Neil were surreal!
Me and my band mates immediately took off to get inside to try and catch the remaining of Bert’s performance. We made it inside and caught his last two songs. Bert was fantastic and I wish I could have seen his entire show.
During the intermission after Bert Jansch’s show I walked right up to the stage to check out Neil’s “toys”. Being a musician myself and being in a tribute band to Neil Young I examined everything to detail. I can just tell you that Neil has got some great toys that any musician would love to play with.
Around 9:20pm the lights went down and out walks Neil. There was no introduction from anyone, just a huge applause. Just like when I met him outside, he walked in very slow, did not speak a word, sat down in his chair, picked up his Martin guitar and started playing “My My, Hey Hey”. Of course, I was in awe hearing him play “My My”. After “My My”, Neil went right into “Tell Me Why”. Again I was blown away with the loud but clear and outstanding sound of Neil’s voice and acoustic guitar.
One of my buddies somehow found a way to sneak in a video camera and he captured the entire show except he forgot to hit the record button for the first two songs. Bummer right?
The third song Neil did was “Helpless” with his Martin and harmonica. He played it perfect and used some chords I’ll be using from now on. After “Helpless”, Neil got up from his chair and walked over near his upright piano and picked a guitar I did not recognize. I think it was a small body Martin or Gibson acoustic. He played this guitar for the next three songs (which are all brand new) called “You Never Call”, “Peaceful Valley” and “Love And War”. The lyrics for “You Never Call” seemed like they were written about/for his dad. Neil stood up playing “You Never Call” and sat back down to play “Peaceful Valley” and “Love And War”. You could hear a pin drop in the audience while he played these three new heart felt songs. I loved all three of them.
I was in awe when Neil strapped on his Gibson Les Paul (Old Black) and started jamming on “Down By The River”. I’ve never seen anyone including Neil play “DBTR” solo with an electric guitar. It was loud as hell, distorted to the max and his bottom end notes punched right into my chest but his vocals were crystal clear. Unbelievably cool as hell!
After “DBTR” and still wearing Old Black, Neil played “Hitchhiker”. This was quite the treat for me since I’ve been working on this song acoustically. He had what seemed to be a piano pedal where he would stomp down on low notes for a very big bottom end sound. From all of the electric solo songs he performed, I liked “Hitchhiker” the best.
Out comes Neil’s Gretsch White Falcon! The audience was yelling out requests and Neil just responded by tipping his head and taking a drink of water from his harmonica table before starting “Ohio” on his White Falcon. The audience went nuts over his solo electric version of “Ohio”. He ended “Ohio” with a long stream of feedback while standing directly in front of one of his Fender Tweed amps. I love this shit!
Then, as expected, Neil played another new song, “Sign Of Love” with his White Falcon. Neil’s White Falcon had a bunch of phase shifting or flanging which gave his electric guitar sounds and a feeling of a spaceship “landing on water”.
Its keyboard time now for Neil. After rockin’ out on “Sign Of Love”, he walked over to his upright piano and for the first time he actually spoke to the audience. He started talking about little people, tiny little folks, little kiddy’s regardless of who they belong to. He began playing yet again another new song called “Leia”. The song has a theatrical story telling “feeling” as if he was writing a song with Carry Snodgrass. This song is without a doubt my favorite song he did the entire night. I’ll be learning this tune and performing it as soon as possible.
Again, Neil slowly got up and walked over to his pump organ which was on a two foot tall riser. He blew a few notes on his around-the-neck harmonica while sitting down and pumping his organ with his feet. I knew he was going to play “After The Gold Rush”. Man was I right and he played it flawlessly. It sounded as though I was listening to sounds from heaven on top of a Ferris wheel. Neil walked to the front of the stage, made a prayer hand and bowed to the audience, again never speaking a word.
Much to my surprise, Neil went to his White and Red Grand Piano and like an angel he began singing “I Believe In You”. This had to be the most emotional song he performed all night. He played the piano and sung it perfectly with his eyes closed and head rising up as if there was no one in the same room with him, just him and that grand piano. I felt like I was in his living room.
Neil nonchalantly walked back over to get his White Falcon and someone in the audience yelled out Powderfinger and Neil acknowledged his request by shaking his head up and down but never speaking a word. He did not play Powderfinger, he played another new song called “Rumblin’” which was a mellow tune played electrically and again with the phasing and flanging like “Sign Of Love”.
After his new tune “Rumblin’”, he switched again to his Old Black Les Paul. I heard a bunch of crunching distortion and recognized within the first five seconds that I was in for the treat of my life, “Cortez The Killer” solo and electric! I have to tell you that I felt like Neil was playing that song just for me. How did he know that I loved that song so much?!
Neil kept his Old Black on and began playing “Cinnamon Girl”. While doing his signature bouncing moves on stage he jammed out on Cinnamon girl as if Crazy Horse was there jamming right along with him. He even played the one-note lead parts at the end. Very cool.
Neil left the stage and again never speaking a word. He sort of tipped his hat to the screaming audience before slowly walking off stage.
It only took Neil a few minutes before he came back on stage for his encore. He came back wearing his White Falcon again. This time he actually spoke to the audience saying, “Thank you, appreciate it. Thanks for coming out. You never know what’s going to happen...”. Again, loud distortion and another new song that I’ll be learning to end our show with, “Walk With Me”. It was very obvious to me that he wrote this new tune to speak directly to his loving fans. He did some very cool vocal techniques. He walked over to one of his Fender Tweeds and sang into his harmonica mics. It reminded me of his Trans and Arc days.
After a standing ovation Neil simply bowed his head, waved goodbye and walked off the stage never speaking a word. I hurried to get back outside to see if I could catch him again. It only took me about two minutes to get outside where Neil’s bus was parked and when I got there, his bus was just pulling away from the curb. Neil must have been in a hurry.
Meeting Neil for the first time and witnessing his solo show was an extreme highlight of my life as I’m sure it was for every “Real Neil” fan that came out to witness this fantastic performance. My favorite Neil material is his solo acoustic songs. Although I would have loved to have caught one of his more intimate solo acoustic shows, I have to tell you that I fell in love all over again with Neil as he performed his new solo electric show.
Jeff Taylor, Neil Young Tribute
Neil Young’s “You Never Call”, Washington DC Constitution Hall, May 24, 2010
For more reactions, see Expecting to See Neil Young (or Man Without A Net) and Does The Twisted Road Tour Compare With TTN or TFA Tours?.
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