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Monday, June 07, 2010

"Soaking it in, every note, chord, verse and vibe"

Neil Young performs "After The Goldrush" - Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium, Spartanburg, SC, 5/30/10
Photo by Ken Toney Photography

The never ending twisted road goes on forever it seems.

By now, you've read how twisted Neil Young's Twisted Road tour has become. Are we seeing something on par with the audacity of the TTN, TFA or Greendale tours? Or are we seeing something much deeper, nuanced, intimate and wondrous?

Reading some of the reviews it is clearly apparent that folks seem not even to have attended the same concert. Some report walkouts. Virtually everyone else reporting sees no mid-set departures and empty seats. Some report severe sound problems while universally all else report pristine audio from the acoustics of classic theaters. Some even report he didn't play enough of his classic songs. Yet every setlist contains 8 or so undoubtedly classic songs like HHMM, TMY, HL, DBTR, CTK, ATGR, etc.

The tribute song to LA Johnson (1947-2010) "You Never Call" with a mention of Ben is quite heartbreaking and a remarkable confrontation with loss. 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?

So what is going with this range of experiences? Some sort of parallel universe? Strange things happening when worlds collide?

Whatever it is, maybe folks can take the following approach in going to the concert tonight. From Dave M in MO on his way to last week's Nashville concerts:
As I plan to leave my home in Missouri and travel over 350 miles for Neil’s performance in Nashville in two days, I think about how I will prepare my mind for the event.

How will my lovely wife Debbie, also a NY fan, react to seeing Neil in our first solo concert? We have seen him at Farm Aid, but this is different. This is Neil, alone on stage, baring his talent and soul for all to see and feel. For me, and I think Debbie also, it is all about enjoying the experience.

I won’t be comparing TR to any other event, Neil’s or otherwise. I won’t be complaining about the ticket price (it was my choice to pay) vs. the concert length or number of songs. I have seen the set list, but even if I had not, the odds of Neil playing our “favorite” song would have been a futile wish, and set us up for disappointment. It is what it is.

I feel it is all about soaking it in, every note, chord, verse and vibe. It is coming away with a better appreciation for Neil and his music, and in this case, the awesome chance to hear several new songs. We are not many years behind Neil and, as the saying goes, “life is too short”, seize the moment!

So at the Ryman Theater we will be Tuesday night, a slowly balding mid-50’s guy sitting next to his lovely wife in her wheelchair, just soaking it all in. BTW, don’t get in her way, she might run you over. :-)

Dave M in MO

Thanks Dave! Hope you and Debbie enjoyed the show.

More on Neil Young's perpetually "Twisted Road" Concert Tour Reviews.


At 6/07/2010 12:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to be a downer, but what's so "twisted" about a tour where Neil plays exactly the same songs in exactly the same order every night? One might call that "lame". The best word that I can come up with is "bizarre". For an artist that has so many songs to pick from, over so many years, why would he insist on repeating himself over and over? And coupling that with the fact that he's playing a lot of the songs that he's played a million times before (MMHH, Cortez, Helpless), why not make it interesting. I would think it would be more fun for him. It is equally lame how he "pretends" that he doesn't know what song he's going to play (wandering around, looking at guitars, mumbling, etc.), and then plays exactly the song that he played the night before at this point in the show. Once again, bizarro choices by Neil. He is confounding, and, for the 2000's, not in a good way.

-Big Old Rig

At 6/07/2010 12:10:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...


Did you ever stop to consider that maybe the reason the setlist doesn't change is because there's a specific theme that runs thru each song giving the concert a cohesive message?

Guess not... Kinda lame, eh?

At 6/07/2010 01:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Trasher ! I think exactly the same way as you about this, some people should take the time to think sometimes...

Marie (France)

At 6/07/2010 02:04:00 PM, Blogger Niagara Prognosticator said...

Believe it or not MOST folks who attend the shows 1. Have no idea what is on the setlist; 2. Have not heard a bootleg/Youtube of the tour & 3. carry their own pre-conceived notion of what the show should be like.

And, based on the 1st comment to this thread, there is a distinct minority of folks who fail to understand that this is a *performance,* a stage show. One that has been planned and choreographed. Show biz, my friends.

At 6/07/2010 03:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On July 19, Neil will be playing the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Oregon. On my calendar it has "Ocean Day" (Japan).

This past weekend Gordan Sumner (aka) STING did two nights with the 45 piece Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, along with some of his band members.
This mornings'paper had a review of the shows Sting did..."Sting fans eat it up,but the buzz is false. Showman pleases crowd with saccharine versions of his hits."
It goes on..."he stood there singing and striking a tambourine....which sounded like a cash register ringing up..."..."attendees were handed cards inviting them to visit for personalized Sting postcards"......"Let's pretend this was about the music"......"But more often, the arrangements were overblown,sounding inspired by decades of Disney and, more then once, absolutely killing the content and character of the songs"..."with the orchestras' intros, he didn't know what the song was until about eight bars in"...And then finally....."Sadly, 15 or so inspired minutes does not a worthwhile concert make, especially not one commanding more than $150 a ticket."

Each show was three hours.

The Moody Blues did a similar tour a few years back and they did a much better job of it. They used their full band with local orchestras.

Now, I like Stings' music just fine. I own some of his recordings and enjoy listening to them. And we all know the he and Neil are not only a continent and ocean apart, but also in their musical styles and influences. But,we all know too that Neil used a full orchestra for "A Man Needs A Maid" when he was in London.

It's just that when I read the comments here and read reviews like the one about Sting, I know that when I go see Neil Young Solo, I am going to hear, see and feel the soul of every song he does.

This note's for you....

Sponsored by Nobody....


At 6/07/2010 04:08:00 PM, Anonymous mike said...

concerning that fixed setlist - I'm wonderin if he ever did that before (exept greendale solo in europe, where he simply played the whole album for the first set)?

At 6/07/2010 04:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

man some of you haven't been paying attention. neil has ALWAYS played basically the same setlist on his tours. look it up if you don't believe me.

he's an artist and he puts together a show that he wants to present to the audience. he's not putting together a show for the psycho fans (myself included) who follow his tours religiously.

At 6/07/2010 05:01:00 PM, Blogger doc said...

"it is equally lame that he "pretends" he doesn't know what song he's going to play(wandering around, looking at guitars,mumbling etc")...

hmmmm, I seem to recall Neil doin' this stuff as far back as Massey hall or even Sugar Mountain

I'm surprised that it even surprises you BOR...

As Neil says "its the same song"... and I'll add....

Same concert, same theme, just different location..

and OBVIOUSLY a different crowd appreciation at these different venues!

With all the changes that have obviously had an impact in Neil's life recently, its not surprising that his song selection for this tour does carry a common theme..emotional maybe meloncholy in presentation...but never "bizarre"

my thoughts only BOR

enjoy your input, doc

At 6/07/2010 05:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I made it 3 days in Belize before checking Thrasher! Makes me sad for the gulf coast as I gaze at the pristine beaches. Take care my friends. I'm keeping my eye on you!! Sandy Horne

At 6/07/2010 10:31:00 PM, Blogger dmayers MO said...

Thrasher - Yes, Debbie and I had a GREAT time at Nashville. I am going to restate what I posted in another blog on this site (forgive me, I am not too good at navigating here just yet.): Bob Dylan once said.."Song are suppose to be heroic enough to give the illusion of stopping time." Well, for me and my wife at the Ryman Tuesday night, that is exactly what happened! It was an event I will remember and "feel" for the rest of my life. We were lucky enough to have thrid row seats on stage left. We could see all of Neil's facial expression while he was playing guitar by the standing mic and on grand piano, that was a big bonus to the experience. I instinctively held my bic lighter overhead during the encore call but got a sneered look from the security guard. OK, I guess I am showing my age but it was the thing to do back "in the day".

To BOR and his comment..."It is equally lame how he "pretends" that he doesn't know what song he's going to play (wandering around, looking at guitars, mumbling, etc.), and then plays exactly the song that he played the night before at this point in the show." I saw the same body language as you but had a completly opposite interpretation. I honestly felt that Neil was totally into his playing and "being the song", that when he finished it took a few moments for him to come back to reality before continuing. THAT is the kind of honest performance you do not see every day. I am sorry you did not interpret it the same, you really missed out.

At 6/08/2010 11:24:00 AM, Blogger Tweck9 said...


You're talking about things Neil has done for his entire career, and pretending as if it's "only 2000's Neil" who does these things. The wandering around looking at the guitars, the relatively static set-list...

Mike - yeah, go to, er... Sugar Mountain, I think, where you can see the set-lists. It's always been like this.

Some of us are just in a bad mood.



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