The Agony & The Ecstasy: Neil Young in Concert
Not surprisingly and right on cue, as Neil Young's 2nd tour leg gets underway, out come the believers -- and doubters. The agony & the ecstasy.
Even Archives Guy was motivated to respond to the criticisms. And so it goes. Over and over, my love.
Which brings us to our latest Neil Young concert review of the moment on the Neil Young @ Oakland, CA , July 11, 12 & 14, 2010 by Mr Henry:
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).
'...like 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 music...it 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.
[In reply to Louis, who fails to see the theme in the setlist]
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.
'True mind is watching mind'
Thanks Mr Henry! Great overview.
More on Neil Young @ Oakland, CA , July 11, 12 & 14, 2010 and Neil Young's "Twisted Road" Concert Tour Reviews.