Concert Review of the Moment: Neil Young in Minneapolis, MN, July 29, 2010
Neil Young - Milwaukee, WI July 30, 2010
The Neil Young Concert Review of the Moment is from Minneapolis, MN, July 29, 2010 by Old Black:
I get it now.
Neil exceeded my expectations last night. Maybe I had tampered them down somewhat, based a lot on what I had read here. But Neil delivered and seeing the show made me realize more than ever what he is doing - these are his temporal statements of who he is and what his art is at this particular moment. He is the past (his older catalog), he is a reinterpretation of his greatest pieces (but not a complete recreation like Dylan), and he is about his new stuff - his new songs, juxtaposed with his life's work and placed into context.
A lot of talk here about an unvarying set list (his set lists have been thus for several tours). The list is crafted as part of the whole canvas. One cannot take out one side of a picture frame and expect it to stand. I thought the set list was great. And as for the length of the show - just right. Did I want more - of course! Did I need more - no.
I am most excited about the new songs! They are, mostly, great! You Never Call is both heartfelt and witty. Love and War is terrific - reminded me a bit of Natural Beauty, especially how it was delivered. I was struck by the line "I sang out for justice but hit a wrong chord". Walk With Me is also a very strong song and I could really see it soaring if given a No Hidden Path type treatmen. I am REALLY looking forward to the new album. Neil, IMHO, has gotten his groove back w/r to song writing.
I want to note a few things about his rig set up (as I am a Neil techno-geek). He had four tweed amps in play last night - two wide panel Deluxes (5e3's), a narrow panel Deluxe, and either a low-powered or high-powered Tweed Twin. No whizzers, no red foot control box. One wide panel and the narrow panel appeared to be for the Falcon mostly - to handle the split coils signals from the stereo Filtron pickups. Both wide panels appeared to be in play for Old Black and I believe he was using the Twin for the higher strings on the pickup-equipped Guild. I think the Guild pickup must be special wound like the Filtron to split the high and low strings because he was getting such a big sound out of the bass strings. GREAT NEW TONE ON THE GUILD!
What I thought was really cool was the use of one of the amps (I'm guessing one of the wide panel Deluxes)as a "bass boost" on some notes from Black. For example, on Cortez, he would step on a foot switch (probably a momentary switch)as he hit a bass note and activate the amp, EQed to the bass side. This would give him this huge, rumbling bass note. Very cool idea and very simple - an A/B/Y approach to getting bass without a bass player and it was quite dramatic.
He also employed a swirling effect (he has a rack-mounted effects rack behind the amps on this tour) that sounded like the wind that he would use on some songs to great effect. Very cool atmospherics. Probably uses an envelope filter along with some other effects. He is really working on getting a full sound from a single-performer show. Love the fact that he doesn't feel the need to be dogmatic to his gear - just respectful.
Another thing to note - some of the new songs (Walk With Me, for example) are written for the White Falcon. The Falcon had great prominance last night in the show - probably the most use on new songs since Harvest. The guitar has great joo-joo.
Neil is treating the show as a set piece, very much like he did on the Chorme Dreams II tour. It is his workshop and gallery. Similar to the Chrome Dreams II tour, he does this little schtick between some songs where he appears to be contemplating which "tool" or "brush" to pickup next (when we know the set list is in stone). It is performance. If you don't get that, you are really missing the whole point.
I though he was connecting very well with the audience, who was terrific and very respectful. Thanks fellow Minnesotans for not shouting out songs. Some who talk about how he has little or no chit chat between songs are really out to lunch - that is not the only way you connect and acknowledge your audience.
Was he tired? I saw no evidence of it. I saw a tremendous amount of energy on display. Before Old Man, he dedicated the song to his "brother Ben Keith". He came out for the encore with his harp and I thought he might do Heart of Gold. But the mic(s) on the harp rig were used, in part, for vocals during the final song (Walk With Me). The last few lines on Walk With Me used a long vocal delay effect that was kind of cool.
I was struck by how fantastic his voice sounded. He may have lost a few notes in the highest register but his pitch control and vocal expression are very strong. Incredibly strong, in fact. Sublime comes to mind - especially on Tell Me Why and I Believe in You.
Hitchhiker - clearly a high point for many. Great song, great autobiography. Hope he includes it finally on the upcoming album but if he doesn't, that would be fine. His strongest peformance of the evening was probably Ohio - very well done.
The guitar playing on the Guild on some of the new songs is inspired. I think it may be some of his best acoustic work in many years, if not ever. I couldn't help but draw comparisons with Bert Jansch's style. But Neil's style is incredibly personal. So much different from 30 years ago.
I could say more, but I'll stop. Suffice it to say, I got my money's worth and then some. If you admire and enjoy Neil Young, you don't want to miss this tour - it's Neil Young in all his glory - vibrant, in the moment, and relevant.
Thank Old Black! You do get in now.
And thanks Liz "brown eyes turning once to fire" for the video!
More on Neil Young in concert in Minneapolis, MN, July 29, 2010.
Also, see Neil Young's "Twisted Road" Concert Tour Reviews.