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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Concert Review of the Moment: Neil Young @ Oakland, CA , July 11, 12 & 14, 2010

"Wow, didn't realize how effected I'd be by seeing Neil Young solo last night ... It was truly epic, and I don't even like that word!"
Twitter / Emilie G.

Well, the 2nd leg of Neil Young's "Twisted Road" Concert Tour has commenced and -- usual -- fans are... well... passionate.

The Neil Young Concert Review of the Moment is actual some choice posting from the thread Oakland, CA , July 11, 12 & 14, 2010. From Archives Guy -- reacting to the reaction:
reading these comments, I have to pick out a few key elements.

"This tour is much focalized on the new songs. "
* Hey folks, this is what Neil Young does and has been doing for years. When there are new songs, they get recorded and then played in concert. They are what is current and fresh. If you want to get an "oldies/ greatest hits" act go hear the freakin' Eagles or some other act that won't play anything new....'cause THAT never works.

"Exactly. Neil ain't the Grateful Dead playing before the same audience night after night."
* well put and a bulls eye observation.

"The Twisted Road Tour is like an opera to Neil."
* another superb evaluation. As it has been said, 'it's all one song'. This is a song cycle that fits together and not just a random grouping of songs.

A note from me- the name TRT that folks are giving to the tour in our business stands for Total Running Time. Kinda funny considering some of the comments.

I also think that Neil's new sound and sonic tones are mind blowing.

Enjoy the music and listen to some vinyl today.
-Archives Guy

To which Brian responded:
God bless Archives Guy.

After scrolling through and reading most of the comments posted here, I was a bit thrown off. AG's voice is about the only one ringing true because he does actually know the man. And that man, Neil Young playing SOLO, is passing through my town, Davis CA, tomorrow. That in and of itself is a minor miracle. We get some world class acts here, of course, with the Mondavi Center acting as a magnet. And we used to have the Palms Playhouse in an old barn (long live the Barn!) south of town before development forced it to Winters, CA. Those who know of it, know the priceless artists who graced it during its ragged glory years.

Seeing Neil solo there back in the day would have been like dying and going to hog heaven. It was in a BARN for chrissakes and you could see just feet away the musicians working up a lather while the wooden walls vibrated and the roof almost got blown off. It would have been perfect for Neil with or without Crazy Horse circa Fillmore East. I'm sure he would have gladly signed his name on the backstage walls along with the likes of Junior Wells, Richard Thompson, and Alejandro Escovedo just to drop a few names.

But I digress... Neil and his muse circa 2010 is coming here tomorrow night. And I don't really give a rat's ass about his setlist (I'm sorry I even read about it), ticket prices, or if he's suddenly decided to play all Beach Boy covers. Whatever drives him and his muse, I'll witness it and be thankful. He could play one song (it IS all one song after all) on Old Black and it would be a blessing. Like every fan, I have my biases and preferences. I cut my teeth on Time Fades Away as a teenage kid and lived and breathed every Crazy Horse release. I even found something to like in the 80s, a tough decade to like much of anything. That killer crunch buried in that Sample and Hold riff helped me keep the faith even as the rest was washed in vocorder (Sylvia!) and sweet longing to communicate with his son. "So many things still left to do / But we haven't made it yet." (Transformer Man)

My loving rant is about over. I know that I've just added to the endless stream of words that will be vapor trails in the Thrasher's Wheat blog background once Neil picks up Old Black and crunches away at the walls of the state-of-the-art Mondavi Center. It ain't the old Barn, and I won't hear Crazy Horse clomping away, but it'll be Neil in the present. That, my Rustie friends and acquaintances, is a gift unlike any other. I can't wait...Peace and love. Brian from Davis, CA.

p.s. I'm putting on my vinyl copy of Time Fades Away and turning it up to 10 to prime the pump before the show. I might even report back with a setlist. LMAO....

To which Archives Guy replied:
While blog discussion, banter and point-counterpoint is entertaining and interactive, I must say that you "get it" in regard to this current tour.

I attended my first show last night and was very impressed...and that takes a lot for that kind of reaction from me.

Have a fantastic time tonight at the show.
The Mondavi Center will be rumblin' for sure.

-Archives Guy

ps: maybe don't be one of those guys who keeps yelling out " I Love you Neil!!".
Davis is just far enough away from San Francisco to make that pronouncement a bit awkward. :-)

Thanks Brian & AG! Enjoy the show & let us know what you thought!
Fox Theatre, Oakland, CA | TweetPhoto

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At 7/16/2010 02:40:00 AM, Anonymous Mr Henry said...

Wow...really loving these comments from Brian and Archives Guy. Kind of like the James Boswell and Samuel Johnson of rock and roll. Keep up the good work guys!

"Hey folks, this is what Neil Young does"...exactly. The man is his own person, and let the world be the world. Complain about this and that if you want to...but that's just creating a lot of noise and distortion (and not in a good way).

" an opera to Neil....". Yes, that's what is going on, or maybe a song cycle. Why else would the set list be so consistent? And look at the flow: now and eternity; love and war; hope and despair. As I elaborated on in an earlier comment, more than anything Twisted Road reminds me of Laurie Anderson's tour and album for Strange Angels in the late 80's (Neil = Performance Artist Extraordinaire).

"...Neil's new sound and sonic tones are mind blowing". That's the best part...I could just listen to him tuning up, improvising and playing random would still be incredible. Add in a set that's half classic songs and half new (and superb) songs and it's way, way beyond that.

Bottom Line: this tour is some totally unique and amazing shit, even for Neil. Instead of pining for the "snows of yesteryear" and some fantasy performance of your personal favorites, take a deep breath, clear your mind and go ride the music.

One more thing. I keep seeing all these comments from "fans" about how they somehow survived Neil's music during the 80's and (OMG!) even liked some of it. I've always loved his stuff from then as much as all his other music. To quickly synopsize, we had Hawks & Doves, Reactor, Trans, Old Ways, Landing on Water, Life, This Note's for You, and Freedom. I saw Neil four times during the 80's, twice with the Horse, and all of those shows were incredible. Oh, and also the epic Saturday Night Live when he first did RITFR. Then he came out of that decade with Ragged Glory and the Smell the Horse tour. Yeah, I'm glad that you all managed to make it through that...congratulations!

Anyway, it's late and the reviews should be coming in for the Davis show. Really looking forward to reading Brian's update on that show.

"True mind is watching mind"
Suzuki Roshi

At 7/16/2010 06:42:00 AM, Anonymous Louis said...

Man, I love Neil as much as anyone in this world, but I'm also willing to criticize the guy too. Y'all are worse than Phish fans. Neil could give you a steaming pile of crap and it seems like y'all would think he could do no wrong. Believe it or not Neil skipped a verse in Hey Hey My My the second night of the Fox, and he was using vocal effects on the grand piano mic to help him out a bit. Still a great show though. Both nights I saw.

With all due respect, there is a huge difference between hoping for a fantasy performance of your personal favorites and hoping he varies his set list by a couple of songs on a solo tour in a tiny theater in his home area on consecutive nights. In fact if you look at the history of his set lists going back to the 60s, he almost always varied his sets by a few songs each night.

So, I stand by my criticism. Neil can and does what he likes, I will pay whatever to see him as much as I can. But I can still be and am just a bit disappointed if he plays the exact same set each night.

Peace and Love.

At 7/16/2010 07:05:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

good discussion, but what's with the homophobic comment from AG at the end? seriously, man. it's 2010 and your "joke" was not just offensive, but stupid and dated. furthermore, i doubt neil would approve.

At 7/16/2010 07:10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

of course you can. but you need not to. just try to understand this is NOT a rock- or popconcert. It's a carefully chosen list of songs with a theme.
Indeed, you could call it an opera, a song cycle, or - as Neil himself seems to have put it - a recital.
You just have to adapt as a listener to this fact. Once you get it, you'll understand it's not even a question if Neil 'wants' to play some others songs. It's just that he's chosen these because they fit together in the story he has to tell at this moment. It has really NOTHING to do with varieing his setlist. There IS no such thing as a 'setlist' that Neil puts toghether every night just before he goes on stage. He's already done that before the tour and decided that this is it. Nothing more (and nothing less I would like to add!).

So if you really want to be dissapointed, go ahead. But you're missing the message from Neil.

Peter Dees

At 7/16/2010 09:43:00 AM, Anonymous Louis said...

Peter DeesOh yea, what's that theme and message? Enlighten me. You're telling me there's a common theme running through "Leia" (which while cute is completely unrefined and belongs at his family reunion) and "Down by the River"? Or "I Believe in You" and "Cortez"? All these songs are a letter to his video guy? Or what. This talk of themes and operas sounds like more of an ex-post rationalization rather than anything real. Methinks I smell an excuse from a fan who can't admit that maybe Neil is getting a little old and a little lazy and his need for perfection has limited the songs he has at the ready to play.

At 7/16/2010 10:30:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's obvious you choose to be dissapointed. Your disrespectful talk about 'his video guy' shows you must be a lucky man who has not stood near the grave of a lost one in his entire life. Or else you must be one of the most unsensitive persons on this planet.
I'm sorry for you in that case.

If you don't want it, you won't get it, i guess. I could try to put down some words to answer your question, but I get the feelilng it's a question you don't want an answer to.

Your comment on Neil getting a bit 'lazy' really does not make very much sense.
I had the privilege last weekend to stand at the side of the stage watching Crosby Stills Nash perform, here at a festival in Holland. Although I admit they were in reasonable (apart from Stills voice) form, I couldn't help but notice they really had nothing new to say. Most of their set could have been from 30 years ago, no, 100%.

And I really don't see how putting 6 or 7 new songs that you have not even recorded or put out in a tour can be called 'laziness'. Playing acoustic and electric guitar, piano, harmonica and organ, perfoming all alone in places where the sound is very very good - so every mistake will be heard! -you call that lazy? Go ahead and try it.

And if you don't recognize some of the new songs will be Neil-standards in a couple of years…
i've got nothing more to say.

Go figure the common thread out for yourself. I doubt it you will succeed.

Peter Dees

At 7/16/2010 10:49:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher said...

@MrHenry & @Peter - I'm with you guys on this.

Not sure what's up w/ Loius tho? Strange.

At 7/16/2010 10:50:00 AM, Anonymous Louis said...



Anyone else wanna try to explain the supposed theme that would require Leia and Down by the River in the same set two nights in row, rather than offer cowardly excuses and red herring arguments? Seriously, if you all think there is some kind of theme or opera going on in the set list, I'd really like to know from someone who isn't an intellectual coward and can back up their arguments. I really do. I don't see the theme at all.

"if you don't know I'm not going to tell you" is the argument of a poor thinker who doesn't know himself.

At 7/16/2010 10:54:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ever comimg to back to Cleveland? The palace is a great place for a solo event

At 7/16/2010 10:57:00 AM, Anonymous Mr Henry said...

And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hamlet Act 1, Scene 5

You really don't see a theme running through this?

"...getting a little old and a little lazy and his need for perfection has limited the songs he has at ready to play"?! "ex post rationalization"?! WTF...Neil is sounding even better, playing solo, small theaters, travelling North America in his bus, many great new songs, acoustic, electric, amplified, piano.... Wouldn't "old and a little lazy" mean bigger venues with a band playing a set of nothing but hits? Yeah, of course I'd be there also and would appreciate that as well...but that's not what he's doing right now. The sailor wants to be a farmer and the farmer wants to go to sea.

I've seen Neil a couple dozen times and (to me) there's never been lower than a B+ for any show. This tour (again, to me) is an A+. That doesn't mean it's perfect, but he is circling the area. Certain performers are like that--you can see them again and again, and every time is really good and many times are incredible. In my case, Muddy Waters, Sonic Youth, Miles Davis and Alejandro Escovedo are some examples of this (i.e. multiple shows and all were great). With other performers who I also love to listen to, some shows have been beyond belief and others really bad. But not with Neil.

Granted that I've only seen one show in the tour (Hanover Theatre) and am basing my opinions on this, along with many of the comments and reviews from other shows. I would, however, have happily seen more shows and would have been expecting to hear the same set list at those also, since that's what he is doing right now. I have seen Neil back-to-back during other tours; sometimes he played mostly the same set while other times they were completely different.

So of course I respect the opinions of all others, especially those who are true long time fans of Neil Young but who just don't really like this so much. Using the old "steaming pile of crap" cliche is a little bit much, but I'm sure I push some people's buttons with my style as well, so I'll even take that in the spirit of debate. My feeling is that Neil is in a kind of transition now and is climbing the mountain again, heading for another vantage point and providing some guide posts along the way. Again, just my opinion about what I like.

At 7/16/2010 11:13:00 AM, Anonymous Louis said...

Thrasher, love your site, but how is it you find it strange that someone who spend $450 to see their favorite artist perform solo two nights in a row at a small theater wouldn't want to hear at least a little variation from night to night? The vitriol on this site for offering a very small criticism of an otherwise wonderful experience is a bit absurd. Believe it or not Neil Young, like all artists, is a fair subject for criticism, especially from his biggest fans.

And let me be absolutely clear. I had an amazing time at the shows, and everyone should go see it. Some of the new songs are fantastic, others are a bit derivative and silly and unrefined, but all in all the set is fantastic - perhaps the most compelling DBTR I've ever heard. Just don't go two nights thinking, as I did, that Neil would give you a little different experience each night (other than forgetting verses)

Walk with me.

At 7/16/2010 12:50:00 PM, Anonymous Mr Henry said...

Louis, I totally understand where you're coming from on this and it's good to hear that you still had an amazing time at the shows. Hope there was no vitriol in my comments...none intended. In my philosophy of life, we all are both completely different and all the same; that's what makes life so interesting, complex and unpredictable.

In any economy, and especially the one that we're in right now, that's a lot of $$ to spend, even when (as in this case) it is totally worth it and justified. Obviously no one but a fan would go to two shows and get the best seats available, so it's only normal that you would have some hopes and expectations about what's performed each night.

If possible, I also would have gone to multiple shows. Based on all reports for the first leg of the tour, I don't think I would have expected different set lists from one night to the next. But maybe you hadn't been following too closely in order to be surprised; maybe (as you said) you figured that Neil would do something a bit different since it was three nights and he was close to home.

I believe that Neil will be performing for many more years, and I hope to be around to see at least a few more shows. My bet is that he'll do something next that's even more different...or else do the same...or else none of the above (i.e. I don't really have a clue what will be next). And maybe I won't love that as much or maybe even more.

At 7/18/2010 05:13:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I did not say "you don't know so I'm not gonna tell you".
I said "you don't WANT to know so I'm not gonna tell you". There's a difference.

final remark:

peter dees

At 7/18/2010 11:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's something about this tour that draws an emotion, a conviction to Neil's message...this message is clear in song.
As numerous commenters have already said of this tour, we are witnessing a play.... a play in song, based on reflection, realisation of one's finality, the hope of one's dreams, and the soulfulness of ones inner feelings.
I agree, the twisted road is a 'recital'. Sorta like a 'dreamin man 2.
I think the album that evolves from this tour will compliment that CD beautifully..just another phase in the incredible musical journey that is Neil.
I'm really glad I was born in this journey's time and savour every opportunity.

Yep, a wheatie is someone special to me, who can appreciate the same joys, disappointments, surprises and wonders of a world full of Neil's songs. An experience and feeling that not everybody obviously has or will attain.
Neil voice at this stage in his career is pure and heartfelt and I am immensely enjoying listening to the old classics as well as he newies. lets hope Neil has a lot more "twisted roads" to travel down.

At 7/19/2010 05:51:00 AM, Anonymous Louis said...

@Peter Dees,

You're deep man.

"I don't WANT to know." I mean...yea. Yea man. That is DEEP.

Thanks for the link, but I just saw Goldrush -> I Believe in You two times in a row live. Better than uTube.

(Actually, no, I do want to know)

You're in intellectual coward.

Even if there are the themes of love and war, I could think of 15 other two song combos of his that would fit in perfectly. After all, that's what he sings about in pretty much all his songs, right!?

At 7/19/2010 09:25:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher said...

@Louis - no need to call folks intellectual cowards.

As you know, here @ TW, we celebrate diversity of opinion.


At 7/19/2010 08:52:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher said...


At 7/19/2010 09:58:00 PM, Blogger J Neo Marvin said...

I finally wrote about the July 12 show on my own blog. I also threw in some rebuttals to the Shakey book, which I just started re-reading. Come over and have a look, if you're not tired of reading about Neil by now!

At 7/20/2010 06:03:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thrasher 8:52 pm:

No?..... no to what?


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