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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Expecting to See Neil Young (or Man Without A Net)

Neil Young at Constitution Hall
Photo by Tracy Woodward/TWP

It's so hard to make arrangements for yourself when you're expecting to see Neil Young.

About half way through the concert in Washington last night, a scene from the documentary film "Man On A Wire" flickered by in our head.

"Man On A Wire" is 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've now seen both the Worcester and Washington concerts and wanted to share some thoughts. You've seen the setlists already:

- 7 new songs
- 3 or 4 classics re-interpreted solo electric like Down by the River, Cortez the Killer, Cinnamon Girl
- 1 unreleased and monumental "Hitchhiker"
- 8 or so different instruments including 3 pianos
- 1 Ol' Black

(btw, numbers add up to nothing)

Some scattered thoughts.

Acoustic feedback and electric solo. Neil version 64.00 re-inventing himself yet again.

Excellent sound at both Hanover Theater and Constitution Hall. And really loud, too.

In Worcester, Neil was much more talkative. He mentioned how the song Leia came about (some think this may be the "Leia"?), his new hat, listening to Bert Jancsh in Toronto, and a couple other odds and ends. He barely said a word in Washington.

Very nice stage setup with wooden indian, large lamps, pianos, cool colored backdrop. Warm lighting with lots of blues.

Good audiences each night. Very little shouted song requests and it would seem a high degree of audience respect, particularly Worcester.

Cortez the Killer was quite spectacularly sublime in Washington more so than Worcester. Neil seemed to really deliberately draw out almost every note making it seem more dirge like than raucous.

An incredible bass vibration is set off during several songs, particularly the new "Rumblin'" -- which literally causes the building to shake and vibrate. A very other- worldy effect.

The setlist with the new songs is quite remarkable. The tribute song to LA Johnson (1947-2010) "You Never Call" with a mention of Ben is quite heartbreaking when you know the story and context. Obviously, many in the audiences don't know the back story as they chortle and guffaw at lines about back pain, burgers and fries and Red Wing hockey games.

Seriously. Can you imagine how hard it must be to sing a song about a dear friend -- who you have known and worked with nearly your entire professional life -- suddenly dies taking your son to a hockey game?

"You Never Call" really encapsulates the mood and tone of the concerts. The ghost of L.A. fills the room and seems to hover over the stage. There is a foreboding tension in both the air and the audience. While this was not exactly a comparable situation to the Tonight's The Night or Time Fades Away tours when there was considerable bewilderment on the part of audiences, there are some comparisons with the Twisted Road tour.

7 new songs is expecting a lot of your audience. When the lights went up, there were many looks of almost puzzlement. The audience had been challenged and maybe left uncomfortable.

We've often argued that a Neil Young concert is almost like being part of performance artist workshop. As if almost anything could happen.

Over the course of the two concerts, we spoke to a lot of folks before and after and heard quite a range of opinions and expectations. Could probably say a lot about that but will pick up another comment about how your expectations going in often set your experience.

And so it would seem that this tour announced as "solo" turns out to have loud Ol' Black electric feedback?! God forbid.

Following Neil's career is about not setting expectations. It's about expecting the unconventional. When we read comments like this, this and this, we seriously wonder how a "fan" could be puzzled, bewildered or disappointed by a concert. The fact is that's a chance and a risk you take when you're a fan. If you can't handle it, then maybe you don't belong in the room and this is not for you?

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

The t-shirts in the lobby had the words: "I said solo. They said acoustic." Seldom has a concert t-shirt more succinctly expressed a concert sentiment.

Oh, did we mention he played *7* new songs? And Love and War is really fantastic.

I sang for justice and I hit a bad chord
But I'll still try to sing about love and war

And the setlist indeed had many songs of love and war. From Heart of Gold to Ohio. From I Believe in You to Cortez the Killer.

So back to Man On A Wire Playing Without A Net.

I'm really not sure if folks realize just how dangerous this is for Neil and what he has been through with the loss of LA.

And so it was with a man on a wire between the two twin towers. One side acoustic. The other electric.

Which way to go?

It was a nearly perfect balancing act between love and war. Electric and acoustic. Hey Hey My My. My My Hey Hey. Into the blue. Out of the black.

As esteemed Rustie Mark Golley reported in Uncut Magazine:
"Black & white, light & dark, life & death... He's counting down to the end in a stark, desperately revealing way.Almost surreal,the shows are heavy, draining, dense, intense and challenging. He's reinventing his own set of wheels. Again...

"Like no shows I've ever seen from Neil...."

It was a night where some in the audience thought it was too loud or not loud enough. Some thought too many new songs, others too few classics. Some came for the folky singer-songwriter, some for the hippie grunge rocker loner. Some wanted to sit and politely, clap & nod while others wanted to stand up and dance & rock out.

And you know what? They were all right. They all got some of what they were expecting. But didn't get everything they wanted. Kinda like life itself. Funny.

Sometimes changing your mind is so hard to do.

Oh yeah, and did we mention that there were seven (7) new songs debuted?

Neil Young at Constitution Hall
Photo by Tracy Woodward/TWP

For more, Neil Young Concert Reviews of Washington, DC, May 24, 2010. Also, see more Neil Young's "Twisted Road" Concert Tour Reviews.

UPDATE: More reaction to this post @Does The Twisted Road Tour Compare With TTN or TFA Tours?

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At 5/26/2010 11:08:00 AM, Blogger Homesick in Paradise said...

Thanks Thrasher. A clip of "Walk with Me", recorded last night in DC is on YT. Too bad for the por quality...

At 5/26/2010 11:20:00 AM, Blogger Greg McGarvey said...

thanks for this

At 5/26/2010 11:33:00 AM, Anonymous Ken said...

Saw Neil last night at DAR Constitution Hall in DC. Had a lot of trouble with the price, since times are tough, and was definitely put off by the fact that we were charged a LOT more than at other venues in other cities.

I actually went to Ebay a couple times prior to the show, tempted to sell them, but have wanted to see Neil solo for a long time . . . He's the reason I picked up the guitar and started to play.

Well, I had tears in my eyes 3 times last night. The first started when he came out and started playing the acoustic . . . Tell Me Why is one of my all time favorites and one of the first I learned to play, and it was incredible.

Really, I thought the whole show was . . . Even the new stuff sounded really nice, and will buy the album if he lays that stuff down which I hope he does. Overall I had no problem with his song selection, and enjoyed what he did play a great deal.

That being said, the second time tears came to my eyes was when the house lights went up. 90 minutes? For $200 a seat?? Seriously, I don't expect Neil to do what Bruce Sprinsteen does, and I'd rather see Neil for 90 minutes than Bruce for four hours . . . But Gosh, if you are charging that much, would it hurt to sit down with the acoustic for a few more at the end. Was really disappointed with that.

The third time tears came to my eyes last night was when I got home and paid the baby sitter (okay figuratively this time!), and realized between the tickets, dinner, parking and the sitter I had dropped $600 I really don't have.

Look, I am grateful to Neil, and think of him as one of the biggest musical influences in my life, maybe only second to the Beatles . . . Just felt like I got left a little short last night. I think from the comments I heard walking out that most of the audience felt that way too.

At 5/26/2010 11:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thinking back to the Chrome Dreams II tour.
Neil wore a paint splatted coat most nights and he had a painter painting throughout the show.
Every night a new painting is being created sonically and visually.
You never know how it's gonna turn out.
You never know what you're gonna get.
But I do get it.

At 5/26/2010 01:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


who the hell are you to tell the audience how they should react?

stop pontificating, and step down from your holier-than-though throne.

At 5/26/2010 01:30:00 PM, Anonymous zuma said...

Being generous, average out the ticket price to be around $170-$180. That's paying the guy about $10 per song to have him play in a setting that is as close to intimate as you'll ever get. I think it is an unbelievable bargain. In a few years you won't remember what you spent, but you will remember these shows.

At 5/26/2010 01:34:00 PM, Anonymous Kevin said...

Thank you for expressing much more eloquently what I was attempting to say to stem the tide of misplaced negativity in that Wallingford show thread.

At 5/26/2010 01:38:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Thrasher! Nice review.
But is this right: "They said solo. I said electric."??? I read somewhere else it should be "I said solo. They said acoustic."... Would love to see a pic of that shirt. After listening to all the songs and reading all the reviews I simply can't understand why people don't like their experiences at NY's live performances during this tour. The new songs are great and the solo electric versions of oldies sound fantastic. BSM

At 5/26/2010 01:48:00 PM, Anonymous Mr Henry said...

Mother said
My dear boy
I hope to see you next
Here again
Fare you well
Fare you well
So I left my dear old home
For a distant land to roam
-A.P. Carter
A Distant Land to Roam

Like a bird on a wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free
-Leonard Cohen
Bird On a Wire

Exceptional insights by Thrasher into the ongoing journey and mystery of Neil. Seems like the older and wiser he becomes, the more chances he's willing to take...and the more faith he has in the absolute rightness and necessity of doing so. Burn all your wood and leave nothing behind but ashes and smoke.

I had a long drive yesterday up north and listened to the Albany show again, and then again again. And then listened to it once more when I got to where I was going. The new songs sound familiar and the familiar songs sound new.

It was the only thing I listened to for the trip up and then back late last night, with one exception. Monday I received an advance copy of the new album by the artist and musician Tobin Sprout (ex Guided By Voices), the title of which is "The Bluebirds of Happiness Tried to Land on My Shoulder". It's his first album in quite some years and it's a stunner...and a solo work as well. Songs are exquisite and deep, simple and complex (like Neil's new ones). The last song on the album, Field In May, is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. I've probably listened to it twenty times already... a little more than three minutes long, one short verse and chorus repeated, and absolute musical perfection.

For me that's what the best music and art is all about, capturing eternity in a moment and making it live forever. The really great ones do it best, and would rather try to grasp the stars and sometimes fail while doing so than to just lay back in comfort. Like the best fireworks, they flash through the skies and leave nothing left to wish for.

Neil's high wire voyage through life and art is especially thrilling to watch, enjoy and try to learn from. Whatever he does is undertaken with total commitment and dedication. Like a great painter, he knows that the masterpieces are really just an extension of all his work. Or to use a music comparison, he knows that the Arias are the most memorable, what everyone wants to hear, but they're not the whole opera and you need all the parts to tell your story. I'm happy to stick with him while he does.

"For a few hours around our big old table at the farm, built from our own maple and ash, we had a lot of laughs, then they had to move on to the next concert.... There are so many farewells in a tour that they tend to be kept short, even perfunctory, although with warmth and hugs."
-Scott Young from Neil and Me

At 5/26/2010 03:03:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher said...

Thanks BSM! Corrected t-shirt logo.

Great comment Mr Henry. I'll have to check out Tobin Sprout sometime.

At 5/26/2010 03:29:00 PM, Anonymous Babbo said...

As devastating as LA's death was to Neil, I can only begin to imagine what it was like for Ben, particularly if he actually witnessed it.

At 5/26/2010 05:26:00 PM, Anonymous Simpson said...!/photo.php?pid=5357086&id=757766196

Here's a pic of the "I said solo...They said acoustic" shirt I took along with pics from the Exchange and the concert itself!

At 5/26/2010 05:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil if you read this, please continue your quest in Europe after the summer.

Peter Dees

At 5/26/2010 07:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, we are going to the June 1 show at the Ryman in Nashville. My nephew can't go so we have an extra ticket. Don't want to make a profit, would like to sell for the same price we paid to a lover of Neil's music, I mean, I have to sit next to whoever I sell it to. You can contact me on facebook, Sandra Kitterman-Horne (look in Thrashers Facebook Friends). Hey Doc, if you show up I'll give you the ticket for free!!

At 5/26/2010 07:40:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

interesting comment about the performing artist workshop . . . someone behind me at Wallingford (apparently one of the rare sober individuals) said to someone they felt like that's what Neil was up to with this tour . . . for what its worth

good stufff T

old sound man

At 5/26/2010 08:19:00 PM, Anonymous Jonathan said...

Look - after almost two full days since the DC show, I can confidently say that this particular tour is a well thought-out presentation of an artist in motion.

When taken in the context of countless Neil releases and tours where the press and "fans" alike were bewildered, it's crystal clear what's happening. Neil is carrying on being himself and the true artist that he is. I haven't stumbled across one single interview where he's spoken about anything related to this tour. If he has - someone please speak up.

The new songs are striking and they are damn good. I would have gone even of I'd known ahead of time that there would ONLY be new unreleased songs - no classic gems. Yes it would have been a bit strange.

Instead, Neil carefully (I'm speculating with that word) sat down and picked out a sequence of songs that would make up this Twisted Tour.

What a night - I only wish I'd been able to stop being distracted by others in the audience. But I'm human and that's pretty normal for a concert - getting taken away mentally from the true purpose of being in there.

If I could afford it, I'd be there in Hashville and Atlanta and Texas for the upcoming shows. We don't know - and neither does Neil - how long we'll have the chance.

At 5/26/2010 08:22:00 PM, Anonymous Jonathan said...

Did I really write Hashville? Wow - uh - quite an unintended Freudian slip. Gotta go mellow out now...or something.

At 5/26/2010 10:57:00 PM, Anonymous zuma said...

The wankers were a minor distraction in Worcester, as well, just not as bad as in Wallingford, apparently. Get the recording of Worcester and play it through, more than once. It is a very profound experience.

At 5/27/2010 01:55:00 AM, Anonymous Babbo said...

Starting to wonder about the Leia Baum theory, after listening more closely to the Wallingford recording - Neil says his Leia was born a couple of years ago, which is roughly in the ballpark, but to some friends of his, and that he came up with the song when they were visiting and he watched her banging on a drum in his living room. Plus after looking at the original post here again, don't see any real evidence that Neil knew the Baums. So the name could just be a coincidence, although a somewhat chilling one?

At 5/27/2010 07:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy Shit!

Have a look at this one:

The Loud Old Black Electric Feedback!!!

Neil Young Rules!!!

Because Sound Matters

At 5/27/2010 07:43:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More Black Electric Feedback:

Hitchhiker in DC


At 5/27/2010 10:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A classic number one NY hit song:
Love And War


At 5/27/2010 02:32:00 PM, Anonymous MDB said...

This is the best blog you've written. I sometimes take pride in being able to express myself with the written word...but you did it for me, pal. Thank you for all you do. - MDB

At 5/27/2010 04:08:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just criss crossed back and forth through all the blog entries from this post, current and past, trying to get a grasp on where all the tour reaction comments are coming from, and came across this quote from Shakey:

“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."

This about sums things up for me, with a few possible exceptions. But not having seen the concert, and no prospect of being able to (sigh), I have no way of making an informed comment, except to share that in reading everything I’m left with a lot of “what if’s”. For instance, almost from the beginning, as far as I know, Neil has feigned confusion and indecision on stage, e.g. fumbling around with harmonicas, walking back and forth between guitars seeming to be trying to make up his mind, etc. Is that what was going on, or was he really having trouble with being on top of the new material? Was he really forgetting the lyrics? It’s not as if that hasn’t happened before, but nonetheless a little alarming from what is described (needing notes at his feet)- if these observations are accurate. Tight lipped in one city, and effusive in another? This could be explained any number of ways, but what came to my mind immediately is the fact that Neil is still an epileptic I believe, and I have read comments from him in the past that from time to time he has to pay attention when that feeling starts to come up, and exert some control over it. Who knows if in one city he didn’t feel good or got some disturbing news, or if in another he ran into a long lost friend and went on stage with a particularly good feeling? I mean, we are totally in the realm of speculation here, right? Too short concert? I feel you there, that has often been a reaction of mine in the past, but again, nothing new. Seeming pissed off, and ending with only one encore? You might consider yourself lucky that he didn’t get pissed off 15 minutes in, and walk off at that point, which he’s done in the past. Bitching about the technical setup? Again, again, nothing new. Playing new songs, instead of predominately old ones? I have zero tolerance for this sentiment. None. Zilch. Are you out of your mind? You don’t relish the chance to hear something new? You can’t appreciate this? If ever I had real disappointment in the past, it was something along the lines that I didn’t here enough new songs. I’ve heard all the records ad infinitum, why wouldn’t I just stay home and listen some more? Granted, the old songs with a new spin, or set to different instrumentation is a real treat.

At 5/27/2010 04:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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)

At 5/28/2010 04:18:00 AM, Blogger doc said...

How dare I strike up a conversation with a fellow wheatie?Thanks for your offer Sandra!


At 5/30/2010 12:08:00 AM, Anonymous david said...

Just got home from the Atlanta show.
First of all, most of you are freaking retards.
That was my first NY show & it was unbelievably amazing!
Acoustic, electric, harmonica, piano, organ - he played it all. Sure, he didn't play through the Decade album & add in Rockin' in the Free World, but the guy has like 30 albums. Sorry, he didn't play your tune.
Enjoy Neil for what he is: a legend!

At 6/06/2010 11:24:00 PM, Blogger Stringman said...

Kaz and I first heard the Twisted Road Tour announcement back in March. We thought long and hard (at least 5 seconds) before deciding that the new kitchen could wait for another year or so.
The sale of the tickets was on the night/early morning after my nephew's wedding. We were a bit worse for wear after the wedding and I stuffed up the time difference between Australia and wherever the tickets went on sale so it wasn't a well executed event!! In the end we managed to get tickets for all the shows but with varying levels of success. We were going and that was the most important thing. NEIL! Neil Who??? Neil Young!!
When we woke up in the morning the 2nd Ryman show was on sale so we got tickets for that show as well. What the heck!!
We managed to get some decently priced airline tickets from our Flying Kangaroo airline, with a direct flight to LA and then to Nashville!!
Sometimes during the next few weeks another show was announced in Knoxville. I really wanted to get some decent seats so I emailed the booking manager of the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and asked her whether a few Aussies on holidays in the US could get some tickets so see Neil!! She basically asked where we wanted to sit!! Well you don't need to ask me that twice. Front row seats were organised (Thanks again Elizabeth!!) as was more credit card debt!!

We flew into LA 5 hours late due to a faulty plane so we missed out connecting flight to Nashville. Qantas (Flying Kangaroo) managed to stuff up all other possible reconnecting flights that same day although we managed to participate in the US airlines favourite pastime, queueing!!! American Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines (again) and finally Qantas were intent on pissing us off that day. They succeeded!! We did manage to get a box in LAX Hilton. Qantas advised us that they has booked us on the next day's direct flight to Nashville (yeah sure)!!
Next day we lined up (again) at the AA queue and surprise surprise we weren't booked on the flight to Nashville!!! Luckily we had a great AA agent who organised 2 seats for the flight. (reminder to self to write Qantas an email about their great customer service in LAX).

We arrived sound and safe in Nashville and picked up our Budget rental car, a Chevy Impala (ca 2006). I'll spare you the touristy stuff we did for the next few days but we arrived in Louisville on the 25th, a day prior to Neil's show. Our hotel room at the Brown looked out on the side of Louisville Palace and Neil's tour buses slowly made their way into our view during that day. We spent a lot of time in the bathroom whose window has a perfect view of the buses. We managed to take a few hundred photos of the buses!!!

To BE Continued

At 6/06/2010 11:27:00 PM, Blogger Stringman said...

Continued ........

I had downloaded a few of the early shows in order to get a taste of what we were in for with the 6 shows. "I said solo, they said acoustic" So typical Neil!! When everyone expected another 1999 solo tour he sprang out a plethora of solo sounds. No matter how many recorded shows you listen to there is nothing like seeing Neil live!!

The RustFests have been well documented so I won't dwell on these too much except to say that meeting Rusties before and after the show adds the cream to the cake.

Louisville show was an excellent introduction to our first Twisted Road Tour. Those first 3 songs were excellent. Neil at his acoustic best, very mellow.
The first of the new songs to me is what this tour is all about. You Never Call is such an emotional song that Kaz and I cried through most of the shows when Neil played this song. And I am not really sure why. We didn't really know LA Johnson apart from his brief media appearances (Archives stuff) and seeing his name on most things to do with Neil releases. Having thought long and hard about why this song moves us so much, i have worked out that the way Neil projects this song and the lyrics which other people have called cumbersome, I find refreshingly clear. This is one of the few songs where Neil tells us in the first person how he feels and uses examples how he misses LA. The fact that LA Johnson was close to Ben and the Bridge School probably adds another dimension to the song for us.
Cumbersome the lyrics may be but they nail the emotional feelings to a T. Musically it is another Am progression which add to the mood of the song. The sounds that the Guild M20 (with an awkward looking mounted pickup) makes are brilliant. It definitely has a SWA feel about it as do the next 2 songs. Comparisons between Neil's mood at the time of recording SWA and the current tour can easily be drawn. Most of the sound has a very bassy sound to it and the only time the treble gets a boost is in the chorus of DBTR.

Peaceful Valley is a song where Neil reflects on history of white settlement in the US and the lack of leadership in solving the environmental issues propagated by mankind. The song works very well.

Love And War is a song that could have been a leftover song from the Living With War sessions. It really works well, lyrically and melodically strong, it is one of the songs I keep on humming. The sound of the Guild also makes this song come alive.

I believe that Neil tried to play these songs on his Martin but they probably lacked the impact that he was looking for. Daniel Lanois probably gave him the sound (and the guitar) which makes these songs stand out.

To BE Continued

At 6/06/2010 11:28:00 PM, Blogger Stringman said...

Continued ..........

Next comes the electric onslaught.
I am sure Neil would have played these songs acoustically in his original thoughts about the tour but as he has been searching for a new sound for quite a while (remember the different guitars he experimented with leading up to Chrome Dreams II) a solo Ol' Black playing, basically Greatest Hits, gave Neil "something different".
Some of the electric songs remind be of any budding guitar player standing in his room/garage playing these classics and trying to control the sound. Imitating a full band sound with just 1 guitar is difficult and hasn't been tried by anyone else as far as I can remember. Neil pulls it off. Some work better than others though.

DBTR; great use of the vocals as a lead instrument and the change to the treble pickups in the Chorus.

Hitchhiker; amazing what revisiting your Archives material does. This is the Ordinary People from CDII. The distortion of Ol' Black captures the essence of the song very well. This, and the new songs on the Guild, I am so looking for on the new album.
The new verse really highlights the vulnerability of Neil. Not sure if it is a reflection of his broken relationships and his own guilt attributed to those but that's how I read it.
"Many years have come and gone, like friends and enemies
I tried to leave my past behind, but it's catching up with me
I don't know how I'm standing here, livin' in this life
I'm thankful for my children
And my faithful wife"

Ohio: Great performance and great sound out of that White Falcon!! He captured it so well on every shows except the first Ryman show where he fluffed the changeover to the verse a few times.

Sign Of Love; this could have come off the Harvest Moon or S&G album, stylewise. Electrically charged it is the hardest song for me to get into. It'd be innaresting to hear the studio version.

The keyboard songs:

Leia: Cute little throwaway song

ATGR: I can never get into this song no matter how and where he has played it. So many other piano songs that he could play that would provide an enlightened performance. Fair enough it has the Mother Earth theme in it but so do a few other songs that Neil plays. The innaresting thing is that crowd goes nuts when they hear it!!

I Believe In You: Great version. Sensitive. Soft. Some of it does remind me of "Crimson & Clover" but that is neither here or there!! :)

Rumblin': This took me a while to get it but Neil slowly mastered this as the shows went on. Definitely Neil duelling with his Gretsch and the sound!! Another Mother Earth theme!! (Just Singing A Song Won't Change The World)

Cortez: Neil at his experimental best.

CG: refer my comment above re standing alone in your garage

At 6/06/2010 11:30:00 PM, Blogger Stringman said...

continued ....


Walk With Me: Love this song and the way Neil acts this out. Neil is feeling the pain of losing his friends and the loneliness.
At the end of the song when Neil turns his back to the audience, I keep on hearing "I'm Mr Soul and I am losing my friends" although the correct lyrics are
"I missed a soul and the old friendship
I lost some friends I was travelling with
I missed a soul and the old friendship
I missed a soul and the old friendship"

The other encores we heard were Old Man and HOG. I can easily go without these songs but when talking to a few newer Rusties they mention that they come to hear these old (chestnuts) hits, especially as an encore.

As the shows went on Neil seemed to have more control of the new electric songs and they subsequently grew on me (Rumblin' & Sign of Love).

Instead of Twisted Road Tour this could easily have been called the Neil Stripped Bare tour. Neil plays songs that are very emotional and close to the bone, which in previous interviews he shies away from (Homegrown as an example).
The passing of LA Johnson and revisiting the 74-78 period of his life must have given him that impetus.

The highlights of our tour were of course the Neil shows but meeting up with new and old (Rustie) friends is probable the reason why we do spend 30 hours travelling to the US!! There were way too many to mention so I am not going to!!!
We found the general friendliness of the people in the US again to be amazing; the roads are first class; and food is atrocious!!! LOL

Sorry to ramble on so much.



At 6/30/2010 03:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Neil should do the blues with a band, and not solo, because it would sound so good, and I really think he wants to do it with a band, from the post he left on Facebook, who knows, maybe the Horse.


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