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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Comment of the Moment: "The beauty of silence at a Neil Young Concert"


Neil Young @ Riverside Theater, Milwaukee, WI - July 30, 2010
Photo Gallery by CJ Foeckler | Facebook


There's been a bit of commentary during the past tour legs regarding Neil Young's interaction with the audience. Or -- more to the point - the lack thereof aside from the music itself. Which, of course, is perfectly OK by many.

Which brings us to the Comment of the Moment from a review "The beauty of silence” - Neil Young in Minneapolis where the blogger just marveled at how wonderous it all truly was. Whereupon Mr Henry responded:
During the Greendale tour, Neil had a lot to say between songs...at least when he first started this tour. It was great to just sit back and listen to him set the table for each song, then listen to the songs and watch the show.

By the time the Greendale tour was winding down, he pretty much just let the songs and the performances speak for themselves. The last time I saw Greendale, Neil's introduction was 'These songs used to be new, and now they're not'. Start to finish, lasted only about 90 minutes; first time I saw Greendale, was around 2 1/2 hours. So we must have had about an hour of hearing Neil describe his songs and what they meant. That's probably as much as I've heard in all of the other shows I've seen combined...which is what made it so incredibly unique and beautiful.

The tradeoff was in the encore set, which was brief for the longer Greendale performances and really a whole other set for the shorter ones. So again here, I think that Neil was rewarding his fans, those who were willing to be patient and walk with him through something new. And of course, maybe he felt like he's already said what he needed to and was feeling to urge to move on.

I do know that when he is talkative before a song (on those rare occasions), it is very meaningful and poignant (e.g. intro to Daddy Went Walking at Farm Aid '99; Old King intro during '92 solo tour; dedicating Old Man to Ben....). And when he hardly says a word, well he's communicating all he needs to with his voice, guitar and band. And also just with the silences and with his presence and calm.

I saw Steve Earle and Hot Tuna this past Saturday night. Both performances were wonderful, and both had just the right amount of intro and audience talk and interaction. Steve opened with Christmas in Washington and got the audience singing along w/in thirty seconds. He told us about his new son, his nephew's return from Irag, how he hates what's happened in the Gulf...all heartfelt and not a word was extraneous. I had an eye lock with him for about 30 seconds during My Old Friend The Blues...that was some pretty heavy communication too!! During the Hot Tuna set, Jorma mostly did the talking between songs (his voice is still amazing!) and that was kept pretty short and sweet. But the communication between him and Jack Cassidy when they played really said it all, and there were sometimes two other guitars as well (including G.E. Smith) or another guitar and electric mandolin, so they were saying all they needed to there. Jorma did say this was the last show of the tour and he was really psyched to get back to Athens for the Demolition Derby. Oh, and they brought Steve out for the encore...Steve said 'this was a total gas and I would love to do it again' (meaning the tour) to which Jorma replied 'Any time, brother!'.

I wouldn't be surprised if there are some shows in the upcoming third leg of Twisted Road where Neil does talk more. When the time is right, he'll probably talk some about LA and Ben, what they meant to his music and still mean to him. But if he doesn't, then really he's already telling us so much with what he plays and what he doesn't say.

"If you ask me 'Where is the moon?', look where I am pointing, don't look at my finger."
~~Zen Proverb

Thanks Mr. Henry!

More on "The beauty of silence” at a Neil Young concert.


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4 Comments:

At 9/01/2010 09:32:00 AM, Blogger asg said...

silence is an essential part of every conversation, every melody, every solo a musician ever plays...like the song sez--silence is golden...

 
At 9/01/2010 02:42:00 PM, Blogger Matthew Lintzenich said...

Great comment. I wonder, has anyone ever thought of compiling all the pre-song talking in the early Greendale shows and putting it all together?

It'd be great to just hear Neil talking for like an hour about the story of Sun Green, Grandpa, Jed, etc.

 
At 9/01/2010 08:16:00 PM, Blogger sandyhorne said...

Right on Matt. When we watched the Greendale DVD, we had Neil's website up on the computer and before each song on the DVD, we would pause it and listen to the intro from the website, then watch the song. It really added to the enjoyment, listening to Neil's storytelling.

Also, I got my copy of Broken Arrow magazine yesterday. They printed a copy of a photo I took of Neil and his dog Carl at the Ryman. Page 29... What a trip to see my picture in that magazine. Also saw a picture of Thrasher and Mr. Henry. Nice to put a face to the name.

Sandy

 
At 9/02/2010 04:17:00 AM, Blogger Harm said...

Gillian Welch once said, that she didn't have much to say about her songs, 'cause everything she wanted to say about the song kinda went INTO the song.

 

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