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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Does The Twisted Road Tour Compare With TTN or TFA Tours?

"I said solo...they said acoustic" T-Shirt
Photo by Simpson!

We suppose that we'll never truly figure out Neil Young. And we'll certainly never understand many of our fellow Neil fans, either.

Some of the audience backlash to the Twisted Road Tour is almost truly beyond a parody.

Sure folks paid big bucks for the concerts. And not to diminish their expectations or valid reactions.

But some of this outrage about going to a Neil Young concert and not getting what you expected is beyond laughable. It's absurd. It's like David Geffen suing Young in the 1980's for "not making characteristic Neil Young albums".

Here's some typical anonymous outrage from last night's Neil Young concert in Louisville:
The coments [sic] on this site rarely represent what 99% of Neil young fans think.Having gone to over 100 shows and talking with folks afrter [sic] the shows and before shows when multiple shows are performed in one city,I realize how far from reality this site is. The site should be called , among other things, the shows are too short and most people leaving the show are pissed and rightfuly [sic] so...... but here, everyone acts like they don't want to offend Neil Young and say what needs to be said.There is no acceptable excuse for charging such outragous [sic] prices and playing 90 minutes, including a one new song encore.

No apologies here, my friend.

In our review of the tour thus far -- Expecting to See Neil Young (or Man Without A Net) -- we evoked an image of "Man On A Wire", a documentary film of a trapeze artist who walks a tightrope between the twin towers of the World Trade Center, in New York City in 1974. And somehow that image reminded us of Neil Young up there.

Up on the stage. Alone. Without a net. Trying to stay balanced. Sometimes leaning left, sometimes to the right. A tension of whether he might slip. And fall.

We alluded to the similarities to the TTN & TFA tours and audience backlash. And we did a reality check from someone who actually attended some TTN and TFA concerts. Don "Ride My Llama" in Sacramento, CA (between he and his wife Jan have logged over 300+ NY concerts) agreed with our premise that there are similarities with Twisted Road tour and those 1970 tours that left most in the audience completely bewildered by what they experienced.

While TR tour is certainly no where on par with the TTN and TFA tours, Don "Ride My Llama" also agreed the TR tour is probably as close as many of us will ever get to the experience and vibe of those fated and legendary '70's tours.

So here's a relevant comment on the current situation quoted from biography Shakey on the 1992 acoustic tour:
NEIL YOUNG: “It was good for me to realize how completely fuckin' out of touch with the audience I was. I went out there and played all new stuff - songs that really meant somethin' to me - and they were still lookin' at fifteen, twenty years ago, even though they were teenagers. These young people who wanted me to do my hits. Wanted me to do Ragged Glory, wanted me to do 'RITFW'. They wanted me to get out there, get real intense. They didn't understand that I don't always do that.

They didn't get what they wanted - but I got what I wanted.

Because I went out and did the songs and got in touch with what its like to play and communicate to an audience just with guitar, with songs they don't know that well. That's really where it lives. To get out there with new songs that no one knows and make them known, make them hear them. That's the challenge."

And, here's another reaction from Greg M (A Friend Of Yours):
Here’s the deal.

No one should be surprised, and that anyone is is what’s surprising!

Someone else made a comment along the lines of “Everyone came looking to hear what they wanted, everyone got a little of it, and everyone left a little disappointed. A lot like life itself.” Here I am again commenting that I can’t believe we’re having this discussion again.

Look, I appreciate that different people have different reactions, because everyone is coming from a different place, and that’s totally cool. I also appreciate the notion that Neil is not perfect, and I am totally hip to the possibility that some of the observations people have made may well be alarmingly accurate. But this is what you get. This is Neil, warts and all. This is what you’ve always gotten.

The only difference now is that the ticket prices have made people a little edgy. The true artistry here is that what you see is the real man himself, not a slick act where all the blemishes get air brushed out. He can be the way you’re describing, that’s a part of where the unvarnished truth of the music comes from. You just have to accept this for better or worse. This is not an egomaniac in disdain of his audience- maybe a man unfeelingly being himself despite his audience, granted.

I wish you had seen a two hour show, with no apparent mistakes, a bubbly Neil, and a transcendent musical experience. What you in fact saw was Neil without a net, Neil on a tight wire, Neil in all his imperfect humanity, Neil maybe “mining a shaft for gold that is increasingly hard to find”. But, you should at least admit and begrudgingly appreciate, that he did at least give you the chance to see him, and the chance to be able to say that you heard songs you didn’t like at first, or that were not performed well in their early development, that maybe you later came to really like and appreciate better for their improved versions. Maybe you end up not liking them at all.

It’s all a part of the deal. I’d trade places with you in a heart beat.

Greg M(A Friend Of Yours)

Thanks Greg M.!

Also, see Expecting to See Neil Young (or Man Without A Net).

Also, see more Neil Young's "Twisted Road" Concert Tour Reviews.


At 5/27/2010 05:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw Neil last Friday in Worcester and frankly it was the best concert (and I have seen Neil before) that I've ever seen. If people think $250.00 is too much to spend then why did you buy a ticket to begin with? Lots of other performers cost the same and you don't have that intimate feel of being in a small theatre and feeling like you are right there with him.

Long live Neil Young!


At 5/27/2010 05:38:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

it's actually quite simple.

everyone is allowed to feel how they feel.

if you wanna "pays your money and takes your chances",do it. if not,don't.

Pacific Steamship Company

At 5/27/2010 06:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at the Worcester show and was thrilled to be part of the moment that Neil was doing something new. I love a 20 minute "Down By the River" as much as anyone else (except my wife who was thrilled by the lack of extended solos), but to get to hear a new Neil sound under live development is something I'll never complain about.

At 5/27/2010 07:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm still hoping to get to a show on this tour, but the way I'm thinking about it, its about more than whether the show hits the spot or not ... you have to view it within the context of Neil's history of twists and turns... being at a show that resembles the vibe of TFA or TTN is in its own right a valuable experience ... the '07 tour was unique in reviving the Harvest material 30 years later, in parallel with the Archives volume one project ... now maybe he's on to volume two and with the untimely death of LA it sounds like Neil's back in that darker place, the place that produced the ditch trilogy, which remains a mysterious, prolific, raw period. One thing that shouldn't surprise anyone is that Neil changes like the seasons, like clockwork, and ya never know which direction he'll pivot in but you can be sure it will be deeply heartfelt, and significant. To be on the Neil journey means to live with the true up and downs that he's feeling, to experience the joy and sadness, the light and darkness ... I'm a life long fan but when I saw him at the MSG shows in '08 I didn't love the new car songs so much but so what, Neil wouldn't be prolific if he wasn't courageous enough to throw stuff out there and see how it plays ... I have yet to listen to Fork even once but I know with virtual certainty one day I'll find myself listening to it and I'll discover it and its greatness and get where he was coming from ... I find that's been the case with virtually all his material ... I can't always get myself to the place he's at, and he's usually ahead of me, but at some point It will click and when it does its incredibly satisfying. I think what perplexes many of us is why fans are surprised by the fact Neil is out there doing something different ... hasn't he always done that? Isn't that what keeps him fresh, real, magical? I think the concept and expectation that every show, every tour, every album be great in the same way as the prior one is so clearly not reality, not possible ... Neil's trip is deeper than that, its more real, and its predictable in its unpredictability ... on that basis nobody should be surprised, or frankly disappointed, this is Neil doing what he's always done and what he'll always do and the fans accused on making excuses for Neil aren't so much suggesting they love everything about him and his music as much, I think, as they love him unconditionally and have learned to trust him and let him lead them on this lifetime journey of emotional exploration and the mature person I think realizes that life is not static, homogenous, constant, the richness comes from contrast, variation, change, it ebbs and flows ... look at all this in the context of a decade or two and its easier to appreciate that Neil's once again laying down something profound ... all that said, I would say better to see a show that's disappointing than to be in my shoes wondering if I'll even have the chance to see him on this twisted road ...


At 5/27/2010 08:37:00 PM, Anonymous Jonathan said...

Wow Dan - I wish I'd written what you did because it is absolutely 100% spot on accurate! What a perfectly concise analysis of this tour in the context of Neil's career. And you haven't even seen a show (I sure hope you do).

This tour is beginning to seem even more important than I initially thought when it was announced. Long live Neil Young.

At 5/27/2010 08:59:00 PM, Anonymous zuma said...

+++ Dan's comments.

This is a very profound show. The more I listen to the Worcester recordings, the more they get in my head. This IS the twisted road after the fork, for sure.

At 5/27/2010 09:59:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was surfing YouTube and in an interview Neil said the following:

"I sometimes really like aggrevating people is what I do. I think its good for them, you know. It might sound pretentious to say that. I like, to read somebody whom saw TTN or heard TTN whose just so mad that I'd put out a distorted record and have no respect for the craft that I'm in. You know, they don't know what they're talking about. So I, as far as I'm concerned they don't because if I put out the same thing over and over again and make a perfect kinda record like as perfect a kind of record I can make is Harvest or Comes a Time and two's enough, maybe in five years I'll try another one just to convince myself that I can still do it."

Neil Young

At 5/27/2010 10:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot to mention, the interview is old, seems like from the late 70s... but seems to be just as applicable today.

At 5/27/2010 10:38:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Face it... Neil needs money. Like many of the rest of us, he is hurting. Imagine the man's overhead. A 2000 acre ranch near SF? Imagine the taxes on that alone! The last few tours were less well attended. Last time here, the upper bowl was completely empty and curtained off. Albums haven't sold well. Notice he's been on the road almost constantly as of late? When was the last time he was on the road as much? I'm telling you, the man has bills... BIG bills. With a solo tour, there are less moths to feed and checks to write. Look at this for what it is. Selling his ld cars on eBay, selling his boat. It's expensive to be Neil.

At 5/27/2010 10:41:00 PM, Blogger TomCrac said...

"We suppose that we'll never truly figure out Neil Young."....If we had Neil figured out, How boring would that be?...It would be like knowing the punch line, Knowing the answer to the riddle, knowing the ending in advance...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

At 5/27/2010 11:10:00 PM, Blogger Sal C said...

I do not in any way begrudge Neil the right to do whatever he wants on stage at any given time. What I do taken offense with is charging the prices he is charging to do whatever it is he wants.
I'll make my point as simply as I can - the band Fugazi where famous (notorious perhaps) for only charging $5 a ticket to see them when other bands of their stature where regularly selling tickets for $15, $20, $25 per show. People assumed it was some comment on the economics of rock shows - to prove that you could still make money at a $5 ticket (this was a band that would play to 1,000 - 2,000 people a night). But the band explained that the door price was about freedom - it gave them the freedom to do whatever they wanted to do on stage because...well, whose gonna complain about being disappointed when they spent $5 on a show? Hell, they were known to give back the $5 to people who gave them shit/heckled them in return for them leaving the venue.
Now, obviously at $5 a ticket Neil would be hemorrhaging money even at the smaller venues he is playing. But what would be fair know, takes yer chances with Neil? A $40 ticket, $60 maybe?
My two cents.
Sal C

At 5/27/2010 11:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok whoever the idiot was that suggested neil is touring to make money is just has never been about money for neil young and i think that is completely obvious....

i have absosutely no complaints with the length of the show or the setlist, i've always said neil can play whatever he wants....

what i do have a complaint with is neil being drunk at the show i attended in conneticut. he forgot the words to at least 4 songs!...and he screwed up songs like helpless...and i know neil is not the most polished musician and thats part of why i love his music so much...but the show i attended was beyond was truly depressing

At 5/27/2010 11:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

by the way i drove 9 hours each way from peterborough ontario to conneticut and spent 312 dollars for two to see him play so poorly was disspointing

At 5/27/2010 11:53:00 PM, Blogger ShittyHorse said...

Listen, I said it before on my comment after the Oakdale show.....this IS the closest thing to Tonight's The Night that we've seen in a while. The parallels are there...people came hearing what THEY wanted, people came expecting something totally different than what they got, the songs are real...this time the songs came, (and I hope there is more) The songs are reflective, moody, at times dark. I think the reason Neil is now doing the Hitchhiker is because it is personal, looking back over his life. It seems when someone close to Neil passes, it causes him reflect on his own past, his life and his own mortality... Don’t be Denied, for example, was after Danny had died. Tonight’s the Night was the culmination of Whitten and Berry’s deaths.
The question of whether or not the audience got what they wanted is irrelevant, and thats not defending or making excuses for Neil, it simply does not matter. Do you know what art is? Art is creation and creation is personal. No one can tell an artist what to do because that is not art. Neil does what he does for himself, always has, that’s why we love him. Since when did Neil do exactly what his audience wanted? If that was the case he would have made Harvest over and over again. I'll never understand the obsession with going to a concert to hear what you want to hear. Just because Neil has been around a while now doesn’t make him a walking jukebox- you buy a ticket he plays your set list? Neil does what his art dictates- this is the essence of what he does, what makes him an artist. Some advise; if you like an artist and you want to check him or her out live, go with no expectations because it’s not YOUR show- you’re just going to check out what the artist is up to that day, you’re a audience to what is on display and that is all. Youre watching an exibit. If you disagree then you need to ask yourself if you really like this artist or if you just like a song or two. If that’s the case, save your money, stay home and listen to the tunes you like. What can be greater than that for you? Make your own set list! Thank god Neil doesn’t do what you want because if he did you'd then say he's washed up, selling out and cashing in on his greatest hits. Maybe Neil felt, perhaps rightfully so that a show of solo electric music shouldn’t go on for three hours. Whatever the case- this tour is what Neil is up to now. This is the art that he’s creating. His motivation is not ticket sales….his motivation is creation, the moment, getting off. I’m sure Neil would like it if you got off too but if not, too bad but don’t bring down someone else. Go to the show if you want, or stay home. Love it or hate it, it’s up to you but don’t complain he didn’t do what you wanted because it’s not about you, it’s about Neil, it about the artist. The only thing you have to ask yourself, and come to grips with is, are you really a Neil fan? Or do you just like Harvest? Or Everybody knows this is Nowhere?
I would think this is common sense with regards to art. Did Picasso take requests? How could he? Picasso did what flowed out of him. Neil Young is the Picasso of Rock n’ Roll. The show I saw on this tour was so inspiring to me. I was awestruck after. Sure I wished it would’ve gone on, and yeah there were songs I would have liked to have heard but I understand that it’s not about me. I’m an audience. Neil is the artist.

At 5/28/2010 05:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

*I* think the REAL Neil fans know better than to have ANY pre-conceived notions regarding what Neil is gonna do...the second guessing is pointless, doncha think? Neil is gonna do whatever he can to keep it fresh for HIMSELF...what you and I want doesn't matter, and the long time fans know that--and don't care...and thinking that because you've shelled out $250, $500, or even $1000 for your ticket gives you the right to be angry about not getting what you wanted MIGHT make sense when talking about any other Artist--but we're talking about NEIL YOUNG, remember?


At 5/28/2010 09:55:00 AM, Anonymous keefs folly said...

as far a s led zeppelin goes,,everything good about them ..well almost the rolling stones..they actualy stole from somewhere ...the two biggest thieving bands in rock history...stairway to heaven,,most of the first three albums by zep was stollin,,,geat lp,s and great musicicans,,but outright for the its all stolen

At 5/28/2010 11:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

".....I could live inside a TeePee. I could die in penthouse 35. You could lose me on the freeway. But I would still make it back alive."

Kinda lets you know how he feels about the money thing.
Without even mentioning his wonderful philanthropy work through the years.

At 5/28/2010 03:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have only experienced this tour on youtube and Dime, but from what I see, this looks like the second most important thing Neil has done in my lifetime (I was born in 1978).

The new songs are simply beautiful and you can tell that Neil's right on it, and yes it does evoke TTN and TFA (must be a frame of mind thing).

I really hope he brings this tour to Europe, but I'm not holding my breath. Even then, some of the rawness would be ironed out. Just listen to the difference between Albany and Knoxville.

A free '53 Les Paul goldtop for the first person to name one other artist who could pull this off...

Chris in Scotland

At 5/28/2010 05:19:00 PM, Blogger rj said...

i experienced TFA and TTN and i have difficulty putting Twisted Road in that same basket. the sheer rawness of those other shows puts them in a ditch all their own and hopefully never to be rivaled. neil's total disdain for pleasing the masses was much more evident and preconceived then, Waterface. Twisted Road, although surprising in content and style, is a much more professional and polished version of NY sustaining his legacy of unpredictability. And much more enjoyable as well.

bflo, ny

At 5/28/2010 06:00:00 PM, Blogger Niagara Prognosticator said...

First off, Neil is not about the money. Second off, Neil is about the money. Neil's always been about making money with his art, but not about making art for the money! Make sense? it's simple. Cash $$ makes it possible to have creative and artistic freedom.

As far as the cost of these shows go, the variable ticket prices seems to indicate that the actual prices are not Neil's call. And those who think it particularly cheap to run a road show like this in these small venues are deluding themselves. I'm betting that Neil's long time crew each make decent living wages. Plus superstar producer Lanois and opener Jansch each have to be paid their rate.

And Bert Jansch is the forgotten value to this show. The debt that Neil and his fans owe Bert is immeasurable. His influence is legend, not just on Neil but on many, many acoustic guitarists of the the past decades. To be able to experience Bert on the same stage as Neil is historic. It would be like someone like Son house or Robert Johnson opening an arena show for the likes of Led Zepplin.

As for the rest of it, I've been at many shows in the past that Neil has been booed. Anyone remember the Solo Trans tour? The Trans stuff did not sit well. Or the International Harvesters tour? Set lists similarly as short as TR. And I wonder how many rowdy hippies were not thrilled with the Old Ways tunes on that one?

So its all about expectations. I hesitate to accuse anyone of not being a "real" fan. You define your fandom in any way you choose. However, I would say that if you did not expect that you would be greeted with the unexpected at a Neil Young concert, then you're just not a knowledgeable fan. And if there is a price point at which your disappointment or satisfaction will be determined, figure out what that price point is, if the ticket costs are too high, then I respectfully suggest that you save yourself the great potential for disappointment and just stay home. Oh...and leave the scalping to the professionals...

At 5/28/2010 07:03:00 PM, Blogger Niagara Prognosticator said...

Come to think of it. There was plenty of grumbling by real fans during the Greendale shows. What non-crazed NY fan would have ever imagined that when they bought a not so cheap ticket for NY, they would be greeted with a full-on theatrical performance? Until, of course, the Horse played the back end. Then all was good.

And if we're consider a dollar:performer ratio, then we all owe Neil a few more Greenbacks for the cast of Greendale he toted around North America.

At 6/02/2010 09:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those saying it has nothing to do with the money are completely blind. Sure the man has artistic integrity... for those that can afford it. Suggesting a "true" fan would go no matter what is insane. Yeah,... if you're af an that can afford it. You people need to grow up and get a life. I'm a huge Neil fan and many of you wearing blinders make me sick.


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