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Thursday, June 10, 2010

TOUR WRAP-UP: Neil Young's Twisted Road Concert Tour Leg #1

Neil Young - Austin, 6-5-10
Photo by Alberto Martinez / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Well, we've come to the end of Leg #1 on Neil Young's Twisted Road concert tour. While Leg #2 is a few weeks away from resuming, this might be a good time to collect our thoughts and reflect on what we just experienced.

It would seem that the obvious take away from the tour thus far is that Neil seems to be bearing a very heavy load with the loss of his long time associate LA Johnson (1947-2010). The tribute to L.A. in the new song "You Never Call" -- with a mention of his son Ben -- is quite heartbreaking.

Neil Young at Constitution Hall
Photo by Tracy Woodward/TWP

"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. One can only 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.

"And I know Ben is with you
'Cause you take him everywhere
He brain-to-brained me
He told me you are still there."

"I said solo...they said acoustic"
Neil Young - Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN - 6-1-10

Photo Gallery by Ed Rode for Rolling Stone

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 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.

Neil Young - Worcester, MA, May 21, 2010
Photo by Steve Babineau/Sports Action Images

And seven (7) news songs debuted?!

Can anyone point to another artist from the '60's or '70's that is still touring and playing new songs? If so, drop a comment below.

A comment by setlistthief :
The trilogy of “You Never Call,” “Peaceful Valley,” and “Love and War” is among the most powerful imagery and singing about loss and death I’ve ever heard from Neil. And unlike TTN, this imagery is fueled by cold stark reality, not tequila and dope.

Neil’s reached an age where the finality of death is informing his work in ways it never has before. Indeed, though he’s been surrounded by death and loss his whole life, it is somehow different now. To watch and hear a man struggling with that so eloquently is extraordinary. A privilege.

And for those of us who aren’t far behind, it will help us navigate that Twisted Road.

Thanks setlistthief!

So while the Twisted Road Tour may not compare with TTN or TFA or Greendale tours in terms of audience expectations, it has certainly caught many off guard as summed up on the official concert t-shirt "I said solo...they said acoustic".

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

Yes, the Twisted Road is indeed twisted. And it was good to see everyone on that twisted road!

And thanks for supporting TW and walking with us.

Rainbow over The Ryman prior to Neil Young concert, 6/2/10
Photo by The Ryman


At 6/10/2010 01:36:00 PM, Anonymous setlistthief said...

Thank you, Thrasher!

I've been listening to zuma11's recording of the Austin show and I have to say, it may be the best recording of the best performance so far. "Cortez" is, quite simply, a wonder. As a commenter on DIME put it, "like he wrote it yesterday." But every song of that evening's performance is unique and moving in its own way.

That's why I go to Neil Young shows (and collect the live recordings): at any moment you can experience something transcendental, like hearing a song you've heard thousands of times seemingly for the first time. I was at the DC show and the highlight for me was "Tell Me Why," a song I'd never seen performed live. It was one of the first songs I learned to play on guitar, and I've listened to it thousands and thousands of times, but on May 24th it was like I heard it for the first time, and it was lovely.

I'm really embarrased to gush on and on about the man, but his words and melodies continually teach me about that I can "see myself as you knew me."

At 6/10/2010 01:57:00 PM, Anonymous SONY said...

It'll be interesting to see what changes, if any, will be made to the setlist for the next round of shows. I wouldn't put it past him to come out with even more new songs that haven't even been written yet. Ohio was the mountaintop for me at Buffalo, and the Cortez clip shown here is also premium Neil. I still think he could Simulcast Live every weekend from the barn and fill our cups without ever leaving the farm. I'd subscribe to that.

Anyone contemplating upcoming shows, do yourself a favor and go. Forget the naysayers. Neil shines like the sun all by his lonesome self this time around.

At 6/10/2010 03:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tickets for the Oakland shows have gone on sale and I was online when they did at 10 am today and scored one in the balcony at the Fox Theater for the Sunday show for $85 plus the requiste Ticketbastard surcharges which toppped it out over $100.00. I'm prepared for that and accept what I consider the going price to see Neil in a small intimate 2800 capasity theater for this brillant tour. I've monitored the entries (and complaints) about the ticket prices for this tour and while I cannot afford the top ticket price of $199.00 plus charges, I think the $85.00 is more then fair. There is no bad seat in a converted movie place that seats 2800. I live in Los Angeles and was checking Neil's site daily hoping he'd announce a Los Angeles date (at the Orpheum or Wiltern Theaters) on this leg of the tour and it looks like there will no date in LA on this leg or at all. Thus, I bought a ticket in Oakland to see him and will make the 375 mile trek via Southwest Airlines to see him because he means that much to me. Last time Neil played Los Angeles was for 2 nights in October of 2007 at the Nokia Theater that seats 7100! My friends at work think I'm mental but my girlfriend understands. She calls Neil my "man crush."

Now watch Neil add a Los Angeles date!

At 6/10/2010 03:20:00 PM, Anonymous DanfromKentucky said...

I hate to be a bother but is there no recording of the first Ryman show? I was there and me and my son would like to hear it.

At 6/10/2010 03:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

6/10/2010 03:13:00 PM said...

"My friends at work think I'm mental but my girlfriend understands".

I like that one! Good be from a NY song...

At 6/10/2010 03:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember reading somewhere in the earlier concert reviews that Larry Cragg doesn't seem to be Neil's tech on this tour.
That would also be kind of a novelty, since he has been there on every tour since '73..
So is there any update on that?

At 6/10/2010 04:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the recent news stories on Daniel Lanois's motorcycle accident mention that he just finished producing Neil's new album. I had assumed the album had not yet been completed, that Neil was still trying out some of the new songs before committing them to tape. Perhaps the reporters are jumping the gun, I don't know who to believe. Archives Guy, can you shed any light on this (without giving too much away)? Has the new album already been recorded or is Neil still working on it? Just wonderin'.



At 6/10/2010 05:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Ben in the song is most likely L.A.'s own son not Neil's Ben. Reference the LA Times article from Jan 2010.

At 6/10/2010 06:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's what I thought at first too about "Ben", but doesn't the song have these lines below which makes me think it IS Neil's son Ben...brained to brained...meaning communicated nonverbally like Ben has to.

And I know Ben is with you
Cause you take him everywhere
He brained to brained me
and told me that you are still there

Leigh, now not in Nashville, but home in IL

At 6/10/2010 08:08:00 PM, Blogger TomCrac said...

I've been listening to a real nice copy of the Oakdale show. One of my favorite moments is when Neil starts playing "Peaceful Valley". He strums for about a minute and a half. He then stops, gently strums and pics and says "Funny thing about new songs...They come and go...." He then strums his way back into the song or maybe the other way around....."One day shots rang out on the Peaceful Valley....." You really felt like you were witnessing his "process" right before your ears and eyes. Sometimes it's pretty good to be certainly was that night!

At 6/10/2010 09:00:00 PM, Blogger Stringman said...

I believe the mood of the tour and the new album goes deeper then just the passing of LA Johnson.
Looking at the new verse in Hitchhiker, Neil highlights his own vulnerability and also by using term "faithful wife" and "I tried to leave my past behind, but it's catching up with me". It is possible that there are some ghosts of the past haunting Neil.
By revisiting the '73-'80 timeframe for the Archives Vol.2, it seems Neil has reflected on this period and maybe found that some of his own behaviours that he is not proud of. The term "faithful wife" could be a reflection on his own lack of faithfulness.
This is also reflected in Love And War where the verse
"Saddest thing in the whole wide world
Is to break the heart of your lover
I made a mistake and I made it again
And we struggled to recover"
highlights Neil's mistakes (presumably with Susan and Carrie).

Even Rumblin' has some reflective moments
"When will I learn how to listen
When will I learn how to fee
When will I learn how to give back
When will I learn how to give back
When will I learn how to heal"

It seems like Neil has gone through a very emotional 6 or so months. Let's hope he doesn't do a Homegrown and can the new album!!! :)


At 6/11/2010 09:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I noticed that there are clips on You Tube of virtually every song from the tour but no version of 'Tell Me Why'. Please if anyone has a version they can post it would be greatly appreciated. Especially by folks like me who weren't able to go and are living vicariously via TW and You Tube.

At 6/11/2010 11:03:00 AM, Blogger andrea1bianco said...

Well said, Stringman!Anyway, I've listened the first rumours of new songs in the autumn 2009 and the writing process was intensified with the Johnson death.The first songs for the Homegrown project were written before the summer tour with CSNY and recorded in the fall-winter 1974-1975.Maybe the actual process of writing-recording is surpassing that old recordings. He's getting more time.I'm looking forward to listen to the new record soon.

At 6/11/2010 11:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just watched you tube Neil live from Washington DC doin' after the gold rush..The filnming ,obviously from the audience captures Neil with his back to us on the pipe organ centred in a "centre of golden light"...Is this where Mother Earth is heading?

Are we going to be flying Mother nature's silver seed to a new home in the sun?..did Neil "the nostradamus of thinking rock", really see someting back in 71?

For the sake of our children...and our children's children..we've got to unite and be aware of those things that are detrimental to our dear planet pullin' through into the 22nd century.

Oh Neil, please be wrong this time..just once!

At 6/11/2010 11:19:00 AM, Blogger doc said...

This last comment is mine, for some reason I could not get through under my blog name..keeps coming up with blogger error.
Seems funny commenting as anonymous.


At 6/11/2010 11:31:00 AM, Blogger doc said...

Innaresting observation Stringy,
Just lookin' at the names of the songs on Pegi's Foul deeds tour and some comments she had made in her interview (see other topic thread).
Seems to substantiate your theories.

Anyways, if it takes some drama and heavy soul searchin' in Neil's life to inspire him to write new material, be it..there is definitely a theme hear I've got to agree.


At 6/11/2010 11:50:00 AM, Blogger doc said...

Obviously my little glitch with the blog site seems to have rectified itself..let me please make just one more comment before the boss gets toey and deletes me.

"I'm really embarrassed to gush on and on about the man, but his words and melodies continually teach me about myself"...

"She calls Neil my Man crush"

Setlist ,Anon,

Never be embarrassed to have these emotions..let them out..I'm sure every optimal fan of Neil's here at the wheat feels the same way! run with this feeling, walk with pride...this "man crush you have is nothing to be ashamed of..let out your inner inhibitions..I am here for you.

Ok ,get off the couch and I'll see you next week!lol


At 6/11/2010 01:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More news and some great reviews on NY Times:

Because Sound Matters

At 6/11/2010 02:28:00 PM, Blogger andrea1bianco said...

Neil speaks about "my current recording project", commenting the Lanois's car accident.So the record is not completed yet and for sure delayed.

Andrea."So Tired"

At 6/11/2010 03:15:00 PM, Anonymous MDB (Just a Loser) said...

Hmmmm... the Twisted Road...

My only observation is that I am WILDLY jealous of everyone who saw the tail-end of this leg of the tour. Judging by the Wheaties' reviews here, Mr. Young was more jovial and energetic during the last several shows. I was in Wallingford, Conn., and while I loved what he did, I definitely sensed a sort of disconnection with the audience.

Whether that was the case because the audience itself sucked is immaterial to ME, considering how connected I was to HIM. I felt much like a spurned lover.

But goddamn...I am STILL thinking about moments of that show. Neil Young RAW. Pure beauty.

At 6/12/2010 02:24:00 AM, Blogger Stringman said...

Neil's mood was a day to day proposition on the 6 shows we saw. Some nights he hardly said a word and in others he was happy to react to what the audience said or shouted.
It seems like Neil was in a specific frame of mind and only a certain type of audience interaction got him out of this. Spartanburg was one of these show where he was in a interactive mood. He made a crack about never having seen 2 Krispy Kreme shops opposite each other on the same street and played the 2 encores based on a girl/woman in the audience constantly asking for HOG.
This is heh complete opposite to the first Ryman show where Neil did not utter one interactive word.
Neil is Neil!!!

At 6/12/2010 07:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just purchased a couple for an Edmonton, Alberta concert. Yeah, not cheap ($165 for distant second balcony), but there are two things to bear in mind: one is that he seems to be playing small venues with good acoustics, second (and in my mind most notable) this is a concert with Bert Jansch. I would have paid a C-note for a ticket to see Bert Jansch alone. Rare catch to have Bert in our parts, and incredible that he is teamed with Young.

At 6/12/2010 10:21:00 PM, Anonymous tuned4life said...

Shea's in Buffalo was the most powerful concert experiance I have ever had. His voice, His playing, The new stuff, the old, all of it, the best I have ever seen. Him signing my ticket envelope, "To Doug, Love Neil Young", There aren't any words for that except to say how greatful I am and how much it means to me. That it happened at Shea's which was where my wife saw Neil for the last time on 11/30/2007. It's been 37 days now since my wife passed away and I don't think it has really hit me yet. Pretty much still in shock and disbelief. It had only been 13 days when I saw Neil at Shea's. Not liking the solo tour I am on now. I was glad to hear about the second leg of the tour.A BIG thanks for the presale, I was able to buy a single 7th row seat for Milwaukee Wi.. Maybe I was just buying time, no matter, gives me something to look forward to. think it will be about 700 miles one way from Warsaw N.Y.. What I heard pouring out of Neil in Buffalo was "The Language of The Heart". I've heard it spoken in AA but Neil is the only one I have ever heard sing it. I think that when GOD made Him it was to carry a message and the message is LOVE. From great suffering comes great LOVE. He is Loving us with His music. From where I am I can hear it now more than ever before. I for one am loving Him back. It takes a little sun and a little rain to make a rainbow. This comes at a time when I am in much need of a little sun. The picture of the Ryman is not lost on Me. Doug S. Warsaw N.Y.

At 6/12/2010 10:45:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Doug - please email me @

At 6/12/2010 11:30:00 PM, Anonymous ShittyHorse said...

I must say it is always an honor to see Neil Young play live-sixteen times now- I've seen him solo acoustic in 1999 (a highlight for sure!) I've seen him with CSNY three times, with Crazy Horse seven times, Friends and Relatives (Music in Head tour), With the Electric Band three times. And now solo electric- which was among the best.
Make no mistake, those of us who were and are lucky enough to catch Neil on this Twisted Road tour. We are witnessing something special. I got to see him at the Oakdale in Wallingford, where I live. There is something really special about Neil coming to your hometown to play, especially in a suburb like Wallingford, which is basically nowhere. We're between New Haven and Hartford. It's basically all houses, stores and a few businesses. A typical twenty first century suburb. I believe the Oakdale may be the tallest building in town. Besides the convenience factor of the theater being about five minutes from my home, for me it is really groovy to know that Neil has been here (of all places) to play a number of times. It’s like having Neil come play your backyard barbecue (not quite but close), like he came to you. I think what I'm trying to say is that I find it inspiring that a true legend and an artist in EVERY sense of the word, came to perform, to create his art live, in front of your own eyes and ears, in a no-wheres place like Wallingford. Not only perform but do it well. Then he moves on as quickly as he came to do it again, for someone else, down the road.
Everything about this tour seems very calculated yet very poetic.
I find it poetic that Neil is charging these prices for the shows yet only plays for ninety minutes. I usually try, if at all possible, to catch a couple shows on a tour. In this instance I could not, with the ticket prices being what they were and a new, four month old daughter; this was a one shot deal for me. Perhaps one show was enough this time around. Neil is pulling the magic from the air on this one. With each chord he is conjuring up the spirits of the past to revel and dance in the present moment. Spirits, not from just Neil's past but ours as well. It seems Neil is burning the candle at both ends, ceremoniously, at the same time, for the same amount of time, each night. Perhaps this is the proper time for ghosts, or perhaps this is all the time Neil, or the audience, or any person wishing to remain sane for that matter, can or should dance with the dead. Make no mistake; Neil is bringing on the spook. Danny Whitten, Larry Johnson, David Briggs, Bruce Berry, Carrie Snodgrass cannot be far from Neil's mind while he is playing these songs. Staring down the specter of death each night is not good for anyone. This tour HAD to be solo; Neil can only bring himself on this trip.
The fact that Neil begin the tour opening and closing with Hey, Hey, My My is a good indication of his frame of mind. Also resurrecting the Hitchhiker as well (awesome song that I hope he finally records for the new album. Maybe the length of these shows are like a metaphor for life and death- we here and we're gone too quickly. Images of death, the past, the endangered environment, are littered throughout the show like the instruments on the stage, but also in there is Love, change, Hope, and Soul. Maybe Neil is simply saying "they give you this but you pay for that". Think about it.

At 6/13/2010 11:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Doug - I hear your pain and my heart goes out to you.

Love, Jill

At 6/13/2010 05:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doug, as I have said many times, I love reading these experiences from the heart...

If Neil be your solace, a shoulder to lean on, the wheat be your support to keep you strong...

It is really sad to hear of your loss, and sadly all the comforting words cannot bring your wife all the wheat, I really feel for you..and do hope the hand of Neil can ease your pain ever so slightly.

Keep strong

luv doc

At 6/13/2010 05:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thrash ,still having trouble posting under my blog name when Iinitially try to submit, hence I have to resort to anon but sign off under 'doc'..
Is anyone else experiencing any problems when submitting your comment?

At 6/15/2010 02:43:00 AM, Anonymous Mr Henry said...

"The lion's roar
The lion's roar
Is something that
I've heard before"
-First Aid Kit

First of all, my thoughts and best wishes to Doug. Your comments on Neil ring true and are definitely receiving the man's transmission. I only wish there were some words that could ease your pain; life is the most wonderful thing there is and also the most painful. I was reading today about John Wooden and how he dealt with the loss of his wife Nellie, who he outlived by twenty five years. She was "the only girl I went with" in his simple and beautiful words; every month on the 21st (the day of her passing), he would write her a letter, and then add it to the pile of letters from the previous months. I feel like Doug is doing something very similar and I hope that it will help you find some comfort.

And you should definitely go to the show in Milwaukee. Take some time off, make a road trip for you and in memory of your wife, enjoy another show for the ages, and then report back to the rest of us and let us know how great it was.

I just got home from a really, really great Monday night show at The Middle East Upstairs. Triple bill tonight, with Seth Lapointe opening with some very nice and tasty acoustic guitar and singing. Then Samantha Crain came on stage; if you haven't heard her yet, you should check her out. Amazing voice and songwriting chops, plus she can play some totally nasty electric guitar and get into a major Crazy Horse vibe. She was the reason that I was there, but then I was equally blown away by First Aid Kit, who are two teenage sisters from Sweden, sounding like Maybelle and Sara Carter for the 21st Century. Their dad ran the sound board and they did Gram Parsons' song Still Feelin' Blue as their first encore, then brought Samantha back up for the second encore The Dam Song. They also did a completely acoustic number that had more than one person in tears.

I met Samantha between sets and she was very nice and friendly. After the show, I met Klara from First Aid Kit, chatting with her and Mary Lou Lord who was telling me that she has been a fan of First Aid Kit for the past two years. She also told me a very funny story about busking at South by Southwest many years earlier, while Neil and Elliott were hanging out on their hotel balcony above listening to her. Three nights in a row, Elliott would come down to chat and tell her "my partner really likes your music", but she never met Neil. And then somehow she and I ended up singing Only Love Can Break Your I said, it was a really great night of music and fun!

So anyway, it's getting very late and I don't want to go on too long. Neil is doing just the right thing now, touching people in both new and familiar ways, and making more memories for his fans. I'm keeping a close eye on the new tour dates, just waiting for an excuse (like I need one!) to catch another show on this amazing one-of-a-kind tour. Namaste....

At 6/17/2010 05:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have tickets to go see Neil in the first of his hometown (Winnipeg) concerts. I am excited for a myriad of reasons - for one, I am a huge fan of Neil's. Not just only because of his music but for everything else he has done for others. Secondly, I have a cochlear implant and I've finally gotten the courage to go to a concert, so what better choice than Neil? I'm curious/ wondering/ worried as to how the sound is going to be for me. I listened to Neil as a teen and in the 80's but I basically stopped listening to music in the mid to late 80's because I just couldn't really hear it anymore. Five years ago, I had the implant done. Two years ago, I "rediscovered" Neil, and fell madly in love again. The music from his guitars, be it acoustic or electric, mesmerizes me. His lyrics can make me smile, laugh, cry or contemplate our future. I'm hoping the sound for me comes ringing through loud and clear. Neil, if you're reading this, and would like a home cooked meal before the concert, give me a call! ;-)

Bionic Jo

At 6/19/2010 04:33:00 PM, Blogger doc said...

Great story Jo,
Maybe cochlear ear implants should be fitted with a complimentary Neil the first words you hear are Neil's....

"can you hear it now?".....
"can you feel it now?".....



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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