The Twisted Road Is Indeed Twisted
Neil Young - Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN - 6-1-10
Photo Gallery by Ed Rode for Rolling Stone
It would seem that Neil Young's Twisted Road concert tour is indeed -- well -- quite twisted.
Just from reading all of the reviews from Neil Young's "Twisted Road" concert tour, one might be left with a number of mis-impressions.
It would seem that for many -- if not most -- the tour has been an exceptional experience. We see folks writing in after the concerts that they are "amazing", "epic", "brilliant", and "primal", and "unforgettable".
Some longtime fans even say that they have been to "one of the truly great shows that I have seen, definitely one of the best from Neil Young and maybe, just possibly the best one yet." Many reviewers are left literally "in tears" by the experience.
Maybe it's not too hard to understand how so many folks seeing the same concert can walk away with completely different impressions.
We our selves after attending the Worcester and Washington concerts got the distinct feeling that not everyone fully appreciated what had just happened. In our review Expecting to See Neil Young (or Man Without A Net) we wrote:
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.
Several days later, we examined the diverse audience reaction we were seeing in our comments threads and asked Does The Twisted Road Tour Compare With TTN or TFA Tours? Or Greendale? It would seem for the die-hard fans, the fact that seven (7) new songs are being debuted is just astonishing good fortune that is a joy to treasure. Neil is looking good and sounding as much on top of his game as ever -- all things considered.
And the solo electric Ol' Black sessions are both revelatory and a mesmerizing musical coup de grace.
So then. How do we explain a comment like this? From the always intrepid
Just returned from Ryman show. Very disappointed. The revert [sic] was awful. Sounded like the speakers were in a low riders [sic] trunk [sic] driving by.
There were so many pissed off fans leaving half way through. So sad
Oddly, there is not one other single report of walkouts from the Ryman shows.
So what then are we to make of negative comments like this, this, or this?
Well we'll let others draw their own conclusions, but consider this when weighing these anonymous comments with this from Kimball on the Nashville concerts:
Well folks, its been 2 night and 2 shows, experiencing neil young.
The first show I was acoustic, the second I was electric.
2 totally different experiences and I wouldn't trade either for anything. I think the crowd was well behaved both nights, I'm usually quite sensitive to interruptions and I was able to stay engaged in the performance both Ryman nights. I got my Ryman Hatch show poster signed the first night after the show outside the Hermitage, and then, before the second night at the Ryman, I got my 6/2 ticket signed.
Neil was a class act both nights as far as I was concerned, he appreciates the true fans waiting for acknowledgment, and there is nothing more than we can expect as fans. I spent the 2nd night in tears, totally in lock step with Neil's emotive expressions. I spent the hours after the show experiencing the concert inside and out; watching the stage crew load up the semi trailer up til 1 AM, and then watching local Nashville bands play their hearts out at Tootsie's (both upstairs stage and downstairs stage).
Tip: Open your soul to the things that are right, and they will naturally make their way to you. Best wishes to all who have truly connected with Neil's state of being so far on this tour and those yet to on the shows yet to come. Doug, after experiencing both Ryman shows and getting Neil's autographs both nights, I can understand how he was able to say: "To Doug, Love Neil Young"; Its really telling about where he is on this tour. I was hanging outside Neil's bus up by the Hermitage in Nashville after the 2nd Ryman show, and I mentioned to Elliot that this show was so much more than any of us could hope for from Neil, and Elliot said to me, that it was for them too, it is for them too.
I have no doubt that we're witnessing a tour that will stand up completely in 3 or 4 decades time.
Truly content with all my being,
The point here is to compare Kimball's comment above with these random anonymous nattering nabobs of negativity which are extreme outliers of opinion and in no way whatsoever representative of the overall audience's reaction.
Sure some were disappointed no doubt that he didn't play their favorite song, etc. Here's a comment on living up to expectations:
Here's what you critics don't, or refuse, to understand.
neil is not the same man that wrote those lyrics you hold so dear. he has moved on. some of us have moved on with him, and some have not. it's not a sin...just listen to those old songs you love so well and leave the new neil to those of us who still appreciate it.
is that so hard?
Like we've said before regarding some of the comments posted on this blog: 1) consider the source and 2) consider the effort expended to make the case. When someone starts talking about how long they've been a fan, how many concerts they've been to, how many albums they own, etc. think about the motivation that compels one to state their bona fides in order to advance their arguments when the facts do not support them. Seriously. How can one make the statement that they've been a Neil Young fan for 30 or 40 years and then turnaround and say that they were disappointed because the show wasn't what they expected? It's a total non-sequitur.
Or think about the kind of person who writes this tripe versus someone who makes the comment below by Keith Burris:
I was not going to post anything, but when I saw some of the inexplicable and bizarre negative stuff I felt I should speak up.
I saw the Louisville and and first Nashville shows. Both were amazing. For me highlights were the new songs, and his deeply felt performances of "Ohio" and "I Believe in You." I am always interested in a new NY record, and what he is thinking. But "Love and War" and "Walk with Me," make me think the new one will be special.
In Louisville I was impressed with the audacity of a solo acoustic/electric show. I just felt privileged to be there.
In Nashville, there was the additional privilege of the Ryman. But I was also impressed at the somberness of much of the music. What an interesting, spiritual old man Neil Young is becoming. The topics are God, love in all its forms, nature, death, loss, healing.The chords are dark and deep.
He's a modern psalmist.
Thanks Keith B.!
The Twisted Road is indeed quite twisted it seems. So, walk with us.
For more madness, see Expecting to See Neil Young (or Man Without A Net).
Also, see more Neil Young's "Twisted Road" Concert Tour Reviews.
Not enough? Does The Twisted Road Tour Compare With TTN or TFA Tours?
And -- for god's sake -- this is not some Greendale-like/Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring moment.
Or is it now....
walk with us.
Photo by The Ryman
UPDATE 6/4: It seems as TW is being channeled...
From CultureMap Houston - Don't be a setlist whiner: Just enjoy Neil Young in symphony - 2010-Jun-04 by Michael D. Clark:
Whether it be Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Prince or even Neil Young, an unlikely tension emerges during shows by artists whose careers span decades with record releases that can be counted by the dozen.
Fans often leave these shows unfulfilled. Most surprisingly, it's not the casual, wide-eyed, first-time-seeing-this-icon-and-I can't-wait fan that stomps out kicking their just purchased concert T-shirt down the street. It's the older, wiser, been-there-done-that-before fan who wants to be wowed in new and unexpected ways by a guy like Neil Young — who plays Jones Hall tonight.
It's this seasoned fan, that will sit at Starbuck's for an hour before a show, combing through all 33 Young studio albums dating back to 1968 (and that's not even counting the albums he made with Buffalo Springfield; Crosby, Stills & Nash; Pearl Jam or any other band besides his own backing group, Crazy Horse) in order to concoct the perfect setlist that should be played ... only to be disappointed when only one or two of those songs are actually performed.
I have been to quite a few momentous Young shows in the last 15 years and I always hear one or two of these complainers who totally miss Young's genius while waiting for "Old Man" to be performed.
If this description fits you, let me save you some time: Throw your dream setlist out and go to the Young show without any preconceived notions.