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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Triumphant Reunion of The Buffalo Springfield, Pearl Jam and Neil Young @ 2010 Bridge School Benefit Concerts

Stephen Stills, Richie Furay & Neil Young
Buffalo Springfield - 10/23/10

Photo by John Green - San Jose Mercury/Bay Area News Group

When the dream came
I held my breath with my eyes closed

I went insane,
Like a smoke ring day
When the wind blows

Now I won't be back till later on
If I do come back at all
But you know me, and I miss you now.

~~Buffalo Springfield's "On The Way Home"

In our over 35 years of Neil Young concert going, we have to say -- without a shadow of a doubt -- that this past weekend's Bridge School Benefits were the most amazingly, awesomest, extraordinarily intense and emotionally satisfying Neil Young experience we've ever had the pleasure of attending.

And here's a just couple of reasons why...

  • Buffalo Springfield reunites for their first performance in 42 years
  • Pearl Jam totally nails the new "Walk With Me" with guest appearance by Uncle Neil
  • Elton John and Leon Russell invite Neil onstage to perform "Shiloh" framed by two grand dueling pianos
  • Elvis Costello cover's Neil's "Tell Me Why" with Emmylou Harris on harmony vocals
  • Lucinda Williams performs "Ventura" with the lyrics "Put Neil Young on and turn up the sound"
  • Elvis Costello and Emmylou Harris invite Neil onstage to perform "Brand New Heartache"
  • Eddie Vedder introduces "Driftin'" as a song he wrote while riding down Neil's long driveway
  • "Rockin' in the Free World" encore performed by The Buffalo Springfield, Pearl Jam, Elvis Costello, Jackson Browne, Kris Kristofferson, Jeff "The Dude" Bridges, T-Bone Burnett, Ramblin' Jack Eliott, Leon Russell's backup singers, and about 2 dozen more as the lights turned on and the curtain fell down.

"Rockin' in the Free World" Encore Jam
Buffalo Springfield, Pearl Jam, and Neil Young's Friends

October 24, 2010
Photo by Thrashette

And when it was over, it felt like a dream.

In a strange game
I saw myself as you knew me

When the change came,
And you had a chance to see through me

Though the other side is just the same
You can tell my dream is real

Because I love you, can you see me now?

For us, the essence of the significance of this weekend's 24th Annual Bridge School Benefit Concerts was how many different generations of bands were linked in time while onstage.

And the key link in the chain from the 1960's super-nova band Buffalo Springfield to the grunge pioneers Pearl Jam is none other than "Uncle Neil" himself.

And not to put too fine a point on it, but Neil Young built a bridge this weekend between the eras. Between the idealistic 1960's Southern California/Sunset Blvd fringe jacket revolutionaries and the 1990's Northwest Coast/Seattle flannel slacker rockers.

Both The Buffalo Springfield and Pearl Jam are/were original, organically formed bands. Not some studio, star driven corporate music industry machine manufactured product. Both bands were the real deal of their times.

Eddie Vedder and Neil Young
Photo by Eric Risberg, AP

And here we are seeing Pearl Jam celebrate their 20th anniversary as a band -- a remarkable achievement for any band -- but even more so given the toll of the era and the few remaining survivors. Obviously, the 1990's band survival rate is incomparable to the burn out rate of those of the 1960's.

So we have the age old question of whether to burn & rust out or fade away?

Can Neil Young have it both ways before our very eyes? Is he burning out? Or is he fading away? Well, we'll argue that he is neither. Neil is the quintessential survivor. period.

The fact of the matter is that the bridge that Neil built this weekend managed to heal the wounds inflicted by the bitter dissolution of The Buffalo Springfield and the hard feelings which ensued over the past 40+ years.

There was Richie Furay ... front and center, singing lead vocals. Just like back when there was magic in the air when they played. One only had to look into the eyes of Richie as he stepped back from the mic after "On The Way Home" to the audience's rapturously ecstatic applause.

He could feel it. We could feel it.


And hence all of our joys as tears streamed down our faces as we danced, twirled in the aisles and heard The Buffalo Springfield sing:

Though we rush ahead to save our time
We are only what we feel
And I love you, can you feel it now.

~~Buffalo Springfield's "On The Way Home"

Photo by Misha Vladimirskiy -

Also, see complete reports on 2010 Bridge School Benefit Concert (24th Annual) with reviews, photos, YouTube videos and commentary.

"Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" - Buffalo Springfield, 10/23/10

This YouTube is by far the best video of shows so far surfaced. Excllent audio quality. Definitely worthy of head phones.

We've already played multiple times. We were behind the guy filming. It's that good. A beautiful, gorgeous performance of Clancy. Like a flashback of a very good trip, indeed.

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At 10/27/2010 01:49:00 AM, Blogger doc said...

I luv the way "just a band member' this set reunion!
Richie and Stephen are in fine voice..but that is all that this will be I'm afraid.....a great nostalgic reunion ..for these guys and a great trip down memory lane for those that were part of the springfield era.
please do not get excited about some comeback tour for these guys or the horse for that matter..too much water has passed under the bridge...and the stream that is Neil has moved on to a new fork in the river..and ya know what?...i like whwere the rivers turning!!...long may this river that is Neil, run ....long may you run!!


At 10/27/2010 08:00:00 AM, Blogger ShittyHorse said...


At 10/27/2010 11:09:00 AM, Blogger Raincheck said...

In retrospect the signs this could happen were there. It's just you never thought to look for them.

1) In the decade of the oughts Neil saddled up CSNY 3 times. He was clearly looking for some combination of being in a band, hearing those harmonies, connecting with old friends, connecting with old audiences, playing the old songs, whatever.

2) Playing with Richie on Kind Woman, because he didn't have the first time, closing old wounds, re-connecting with Richie, maybe even test driving him.

3) Duh. "Like to see those guys again, give it a shot ... But I'd just like to play for the fun we had." One thing to feel it. Another to write a song. Anothe to release it.

No, these 3 things didn't make it inevitable. But Neil was probably trying to figure a way to do this. He probably knew Richie had started playing a lot of these songs on tour, and that Stephen hlad brought back Bluebird and Rock and Roll Woman to his sets.

The time was now, and the Bridge, two nights only, no long term, acoustic, was the perfect setting.

At 10/27/2010 01:01:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I agree wholehartedly in terms of being thoroughly amazed with the reunion of Buffalo Springfield. I have been going to Neil Young concerts since the early 70s and missed the Buffalo Springfield era almost completely (Albums and Radio). I have always hoped to hear these songs live and finally did. They did a great job of presenting their songs in their original style. What a treat!

Thanks Guys

Dave B.
Aromas, CA

At 10/27/2010 01:33:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Hey Thrasher - totally 100% jealous that you were there but really glad that you guys got to go - I can't afford to pay attention but that's another story. You've been going to NY concerts for 35 years? Seriously? When I met you in DC, you really didn't seem that old. I'm not nitpicking, I'm just sayin'

Peace and love(Lennon's good-bye)

At 10/27/2010 04:08:00 PM, Blogger Bodhi said...

Hi, I've been a lurker for many moons, but this is my first time commenting....I was there on Sunday evening and it was fantastic!!!I have to agree with what Doc said...Neil was a band member while they were on stage, and it was great! Richie sounded fantastic....I never dreamed I would ever see "A Child's Claim To Fame" performed live with Richie, Stephen, and Neil on the same stage. And Stephen sounded better than ever, too! What a fantastic evening...

At 10/27/2010 05:30:00 PM, Blogger asg said...

hmm...Stephen sounded just OK (IMO) and we should be grateful for "OK"--he's not 30 anymore (even discounting whatever bad habits he may have had over the years) with the possible exception of Richie, NOBODY sounds now like they did when they were 30...this is a good looking/sounding clip, but I like MR.SOUL better...still nervous about seeing/hearing BLUEBIRD...maybe now we have "closure"...

At 10/27/2010 06:14:00 PM, Blogger Raincheck said...

I've been listening to downloaded audience recordings of both nights. I was afraid maybe I was guilty of "wishful listening" at the shows, but these recordings sound as good as I remembered.

Neil has SBDs of both shows. With 2 takes of each song to choose from, and some quality mixing (bringing up the background vocals here and there), there could be nice live souvenier album of this event. Cheap to produce. Better sounding than the debut album.

Except for Stills' voice here and there it all sounds pretty good, and Stills actually sounds better than he has of late, so he can't complain.

Buffalo Springfield - Last Time Around Again

At 10/27/2010 06:36:00 PM, Blogger GOOD time boy said...

I had fooled myself into thinking that if I could just see the Springfield then life would be complete. Then there they are 20 feet away leaving me wanting more!
Well what did anyone expect? That they would not meet the expectations of the fan base that has been waiting for 40 years? It would have been all good if they would have performed 10 more songs or so. Like Sit Down I Think I Love You, Baby Don't Scold Me,Out Of My Mind, and on and on. But that would have required 10 days of rehearsels unstead of 5. I still think there is some unfinished business that needs to get completed. I'm holdin out, at the very least, for a few West coast dates in the near future.

At 10/27/2010 07:38:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...


Glad that you, and many other long-time hard-core fans got to experience this live and in person. I've been pretty blown away experiencing it from the TW and You Tube and can't imagine what it might have been like to be there, but reading your comments helped to be there vicariously. It dawned on me as I read your post how much Neil has and continues to deliver to his hard core fans ... beyond the dozens and dozens of albums, the tours year after year after year, the constant renewal of songs and styles, his steadfast commitment to recording, archiving, and releasing everything (albeit at his perfectionist pace), his commitment to returning to the past is striking ... when you think about all the elements that this reunion brought together - the songs, the personalities, the history of volitility among the people, and to see them together as a band on stage 40 years later sounding really tight and smiling ... totally amazing ... and an amazing gift to fans ...

Its also striking to see how prescient Neil's words were, "now I won't be back till later on if I do come back at all" ...

For all the bitchin and moaning we hear sometimes from some of Neil's fans I just stuggle to identify any single musical artist of the last 50 years who has delivered and continues to deliver so much so consitently in such delightful ways to their fan base ... the last few years have just been an incredible time to be a Neil fan ... just incredible, truly incredible and rewarding time to be a fan

At 10/27/2010 08:39:00 PM, Blogger TomCrac said...

Hey Thrash and Thrasherette,

Thanks for sharing your experiences in words and pics with us (and everyone else that attended). I know that you would not easily claim that the shows were the best in all the years that you have seen Neil unless they truly were. Like a lot of other Neil fans, I am envious but thrilled for you that you got see possibly your greatest Neil show ever. I have been lucky enough to have had a few of my own.

Raincheck, I don't believe in "wishful" listening...being there , in the moment, while art is being created, before your eyes and ears, its here and gone almost at the same time, is a magical experience....I enjoy a good laugh and I can tell you that the first time hearing a real "good one" is the
funniest time I'll hear it (if that makes sense).

Dan1....not to mention, all this, for The Bridge School.

At 10/27/2010 08:40:00 PM, Blogger TomCrac said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 10/27/2010 09:19:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@Johnathan - just started as a young pup

@Dan - There you go, that sums it up. nice. thnx

At 10/27/2010 09:23:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@TomCrac - there's just such a comfort zone @ Bridge that the artists are able to hook up for walk-ons so readily.

Neil out on Walk With Me w/ PJ was such a surprise. Really good tone & feedback on the jam.

At 10/28/2010 12:20:00 AM, Blogger Raincheck said...

Good Time Boy is right, seeing the Springfield do a dozen made me want a dozen more.

How about Down to the Wire?

But it was a great show I was lucky as hell to see, and the playlist was what it should have been.

At 10/28/2010 12:54:00 AM, Blogger Melanie Young said...

Count me in as also totally jealous and totally happy that y'all were able to be there for this. I've never been out west . . . maybe I should save my pennies and treat myself to a Bridge School concert for my graduation present next year! ;-)

Of the video I've seen, I think my favorite moment was at 3:22 of this video - They'd just finished "I Am A Child," and Richie can clearly be seen wiping tears from his eyes. How wonderful to see the love between these guys so palpable again after all of these years.

Thanks for all of your wonderful reports, Thrasher. I agree with Dan1 - this is indeed a great time to be a Neil fan!

At 10/28/2010 12:57:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

New to this site. I saw both shows and have been listening to the video and the audio, over and over and it is just amazing. For kicks, I put the first album on my turntable, cued up "Do I have to to right out and say it", and then played the concert version right after. I was blown away and surprised to find out IMHO that that while the voices are older the concert harmonies are just as tight as the studio version and in fact more sublime. Just my opinion. Interested in others opinions on this. How did they do this on a weeks rehearsal?

At 10/28/2010 01:28:00 AM, Blogger asg said...

"last time around again" a bootleg title if ever there was one...(whispers)do they still make those?

At 10/28/2010 01:33:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Excellent post, Thrash. I agree: he is neither.

His magic is that he is in a continual process of self-discovery. The Vista and Muse are his guides...the music is his True North.

He is always in the Now. There is nothing more important to Neil than The Now. The Now is where things are happening. Things need to happen otherwise The Now becomes the never. It's Now or never. The Now means no compromises. The Now means no rust.

The Now always stays one step ahead of the rust at all time.

Neil is always Now. Now Young.

At 10/28/2010 03:15:00 AM, Blogger doc said...

Judd6149...that is EXACTLY where I was coming from...Neil the chameleon is forever changing..his mood, his direction...his the words of Seals and Croft..."We may never pass this way again" lap up these nostalga trips, coz I don't think they'll happen that often!!Sadly


At 10/28/2010 08:04:00 AM, Blogger SONY said...

It's been a long time coming for these guys. The setting, the comradarie, the setlist, the vibe all show so strong. I love the fringe jacket and it's also ironic as Stills is playing vintage rock and roll anthems on a Stephen Stills model Martin guitar. I love that. Could they have ever imagined what would become of a simple exchange at that intersection on the streets of LA so long ago. It's just too bad that there is a 40+year lul for them in the history books.

At 10/28/2010 09:05:00 AM, Blogger Greg McGarvey said...

great writeup, T. :)

At 10/28/2010 11:53:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Perhaps their best shows ever?

At 10/28/2010 12:39:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@Melanie - yes, definitely try & go to Bridge next year. It'll be 25th anniversary so maybe something really special will happen. Even more so than usual.

Over 2 days you get 14+ hours of music ranging from up & coming indie bands to the big stars.

This year was pretty unique in that it had so much neil content.

@Judd - great post! "Neil is always Now. Now Young" Absolutely. thnx

At 10/28/2010 04:07:00 PM, Blogger asg said...

among the Springfield's many problems was timing...1966 was that "in between" year...1965 (16 magazine)on one side and 1967 (rolling stone)on the other...seeing any version of the band in 2010 would be a good thing...the Bridge School appearances are inspiring--thank heaven for youTube...

At 10/28/2010 04:59:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

According to the recent Uncut magazine interview, Neil's been thinking about a tour with Crazy Horse... did anyone see that?

At 10/28/2010 05:42:00 PM, Blogger Phil Kola said...

Yep, we are living in post Buffalo Springfield reunion world where anything can happen. Amazing to see and hear this after decades of waiting.

I did miss Dewey though, happily bashing away on the drums. Beyond his solid rhthmic sense, he contributed an organic joy. So, too bad they didn't do this back when Neil wrote "Buffalo Springfield Again". But better later than never!

At 10/28/2010 08:46:00 PM, Blogger Lone Red Rider said...

Thrasher....the feeling really comes across in your writing. This must have been an amazing experience to witness. Wish I could have been a part of it. I KNOW live music is better. I'm very pleased with the performances I've heard, thanks to the tapers and I have had the shows playing in my car for a couple of days.

I had my "tears rolling down the face dancing uncontrollably" moment earlier this year at a Toots concert. So I know....

I was really hoping they would blow the lid off with Bluebird and end there, just like in the old times...But how could they leave off that amazing signature acoustic guitar break? As a jam goes, it was a bit more subdued than I was hoping for. That was the only dissappointment for me (other than not being there). Everything else was perfect.

Thanks Neil. You gave us something special.

At 10/28/2010 08:48:00 PM, Blogger Lone Red Rider said...

Anyone want to bet on The Squires for Bridge25 next year?

yeah, right....

At 10/29/2010 11:36:00 AM, Blogger Melanie Young said...

@Thrasher - I think I may just have to do that. Good point about it being the 25th anniversary - though the mind boggles at the thought of what Neil might come up with to try and top this year's lineup!

LOL @Doonerak - the Squires are indeed about all that's left at this point, as we sadly cannot hope for a Mynah Birds reunion . . .

At 10/29/2010 04:46:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

A CH reunion would be so bad.


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