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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Concert Review of the Moment: Neil Young - Providence Rhode Island, April 22, 2011

The Neil Young Concert Review of the Moment is from Providence Rhode Island, April 22, 2011 by the always delightful ShittyHorse:
Seeing Neil Young play live is always an extraordinary couple hours- always.

To have a true music and cultural legend be in the room, doing what he does best- performing his art for you. A Neil show is always an event, a real musical experience- never have I gotten the feeling- after 17 shows that it was simply being 'phoned in'. Knowing the setlist ahead of time, I figured I knew what to expect going in- but I was completely wrong! The songs are just the canvas to which Neil lays down the true creation that evening- the performance. I think we may, as an audience, get too hung up on songs in a strict sense. We want to hear this song or that song, while missing the overall feel and vibe of the evening.

I believe the key to the whole Twisted Road/Le Noise trip may be the nuance- the subtleties going on constantly. The lights on the four panels behind Neil changing colors at specific songs or specific lyrics- such as red when Neil sings 'what a Killlerr' on Cortez or the 'Earth Colors' changing and becoming distorted on Rumbling, the album itself with its small sonic touches of color, also the setlist, the stage setup and the choosing of instruments, etc. I believe many things are completely intentional and thought out as has sort of been Neil's trip going back to Tonight's the Night and Rust Never Sleeps. Small touches, that may have little or a lot of meaning, that when taken all together make for huge artistic expression and experience.

Having seen the Twisted Road on its first leg, about four or five shows in (Wallingford CT) I must say that tonight's show was much more Rockin' and in your face compared to the first, which in comparison seemed much more dark, and slightly mysterious- spooky, which was why I originally liked it to the closest thing to Tonight's the Night. In Wallingford that night, Neil seemed to be exorcising some real demons. In Providence, Neil seemed much more confident in this material and delivered it well. The album has been released, the songs were now aged a bit and road tested with, again, subtle changes throughout.

Neil enters the stage very nonchalantly, without the entrance songs or darkened lights, etc. just steps out- which I love. The audience gave him the welcome he deserves- an eruption of a roaring ovation that went on for a few minutes. Neil sits and strums the opening riff of Hey Hey, My My- the riff that first turned my head around and caught my ears when I put on RNS just by chance because I liked the cover, thus beginning my long road of being a Neil fan. Tonight's rendition was excellent and moving. Tell Me Why and Helpless were both very well done. As a huge fan I was looking forward to the Le Noise material slightly more than the hits and of course Neil doesn't disappoint. You Never Call, this time around seemed much starker and more moving than the first time- (this time he included all the lyrics). The Hitchhiker was PHENOMINAL- he shook that ornate little theater! I love that bass petal he uses- he steps on that thing and the bass literally blasts you in the face and shakes your seat- very disorienting, but in a good way. When Neil just stops cold for one second after 'we had a kid and we split apart' it's breathtaking.

Other highlights were Ohio, Down by the River- on which Neil jammed just slightly more between verses this time out. Leia, I found really poignant perhaps because I have a 15 month old daughter, were that not the case I think I'd still like it as the sort of little ditty that Neil has done throughout his career (Till the Morning Comes, Cripple Creek Ferry). Also an excellent Sign of Love and I Believe in You (a little less echo or reverb on his voice this time out I think). Cinnamon Girl was great, but that's the one song he does I feel doesn't work well solo electric- it just needs that stomp! But then he came back Walk with Me and he hit it right out of the park- more feedback, more passion this time- the meaning, it seemed was not lost on this audience. He left the stage ringing and it was over too quickly.

A great show!

My only complaint is that the seats in the theater were TIGHT! Possibly worse than MSG? Really packed in and it got hot in there. Also the greatest hits crowd are somewhat annoying- but that's the fanatic in me I suppose. Someone was yelling out some really obscure tunes like 'Pressure'- which was funny. I bought a beautiful show program filled with excellent photos and drawings done by Eric Johnson.

Bert Jansch was awesome! What a player! Just be quiet and listen- you'll be amazed at this huge talent!

If you are seeing a show on this tour, go with an open mind and pay attention! I'm really glad Neil decided to go out on the Twisted Road again and look forward to the next thing- whatever it may be.

Thanks Neil.

Thanks SH! Excellent, my friend, as always.

Also, see Neil Young's "Twisted Road" Concert Tour Reviews.


At 4/25/2011 01:06:00 AM, Blogger ShittyHorse said...

Thank you Thrasher- receiving comment/review of the moment never fails to be exciting to me and is always an honor.
This show truly was fantastic, but still I do hope to one day write a long, somewhat detailed and rambling review of a Crazy Horse show- lets keep our fingers crossed!
One last thing- which I can't believe I left out: Peaceful Valley Boulevard was performed so well and convinced me even further that it is the finest song Neil has written (that we've heard) in the past ten to fifteen years- (Light a Candle is up there as well) such a great song with the perfect combination of (again)stark imagery and mysterious tone. I could be wrong here but I'm pretty sure he changed the last lyric to "a child was born beneath the sky". Can someone confirm that? This change- if it did happen- seems much more hopeful and I have to admit, being a fairly new father- "a child was born and wondered why" always bothered me like a tiny bit in the back of my mind somewhere. But still, a great tune. Love and War is a distant second- beautiful! The first time out I regretted only buying tickets to one show on this really special tour, so I'm thrilled I got to see it for the second time.
Thanks again Thrasher!

At 4/25/2011 03:46:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great report SH. You guys in the US are so lucky with all the tours you get to see. You convey that it is an expression session - all the little bits have meaning and we need to absorb it all.

Interesting lyric change too, if confirmed.

And I fell into a dream (Australia)

At 4/25/2011 12:09:00 PM, Blogger Mr Henry said...

Great job and so glad that you loved the show in Providence. Always enjoy reading your thoughts, feelings and analysis on Neil!

You are correct about the lyric change in PVB. Every so often, Neil will change a few (or even just one) key words to alter or enhance a song, creating a subtle but profound shift from dark to light. The one song that comes most to mind for me is Hank to Hendrix, where the original line "new distance between us" became "new closeness between us".

I first heard this live, along with most of the songs on Harvest Moon, during the historic '92 solo tour. At the time, I loved the new songs but also felt (sensed) that something must be terribly wrong. Feeling like a helpless member of the extended family, I worried that Neil and Pegi (one of the truly great love stories for this and any other age) might be splitting up.

Looking back now, maybe Neil was just really in character for these songs. Or maybe there was something going on, some bump in the road (which even the most ageless and profound love will encounter...especially those kind) which made him and them even stronger and more dedicated.

So I'm very happy that the Providence show was another great one. I had originally planned to be there Friday night, and also at the show in NYC tonight. But I consider myself so fortunate to have seen Neil three times now in less than a year, plus the great tribute show at Carnegie Hall. And Providence is just a wonderful city, one where I've had many memorable days and evenings, especially back in the day ("...and I still don't know how we made it home"). Very cool theater, but those older places can be pretty crowded and a bit uncomfortable, especially when the days are getting warmer.

Hard to believe, but Friday (April 22) was the 20th anniversary of the death of Johnny Thunders. Along with Kurt Cobain, one of the saddest stories in modern music. I'm sure that Neil is familiar with the artistry and tragedy there, and it could be one of those "there but for the grace of God" things for him and many other musicians.

Finally it's so nice to hear how much you're loving fatherhood. Probably the most unique experience there least for me. As I'm fond of saying (probably a bit too much), "they grow up so fast" is perhaps the oldest cliche there is, but that doesn't mean that it isn't completely true. Savor every moment...take care.

It doesn't pay to try
All the smart boys know why
That doesn't mean I didn't try
I just don't know why
--Johnny Thunders
You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory

At 4/25/2011 12:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lyrics with Neil is whatever feels right at the time because it's all one song. (Or so I heard.)

At 4/25/2011 05:03:00 PM, Blogger ShittyHorse said...

Thanks Mr Henry- excellent comment! I've always taken From Hank to Hendrix to be about time, and how things change yet stay the same and also looking up to your heroes, among other things- man, that is a wondrous song! One that has taken me awhile to fully appreciate, and I'm glad I do.
It's funny how people interpret art, songs, etc. differently- how we can be looking at the same thing and see different things and at different times- it's one of the best things about really great art.

Johnny Thunders was great- especially when he wanted to be. It's funny you mention Thunders- I actually just bought an original copy of So Alone- that's a hard one to come by! Great album with a lot of fantastic guest players. His is a very tragic story- there are too many of them.

I couldn't agree with you more about kids growing up- the past year FLEW by, but it's been really great. She's happy & healthy- She's like a little kid now, running around the house! You really see things a bit differently after you have a kid. It's not always easy but it's awesome as well. Thanks again!

At 4/25/2011 06:52:00 PM, Blogger BIGCHIEF said...

Excellent review, ShittyHorse! You know, I find a sense of hope in the lyric "a child was born and wondered why" as meaning there's a possibility that this child's observations at such a young age indicate to me that he could become a future leader to bring about change for the world. The new lyric really doesn't leave you with anything to imagine or build upon. That was my initial interpetation upon hearing it for the first time, after Neil paints a bleak portrait of the future as it evolved from such simple and humble beginnings, it almost returns full circle and the responsibility for any hope for salvation rests on the shoulders of our new leader, the child who was born "and wondered why". Lets just hope he has a legitimate 'birth certificate'! Anyhow, hopefully next Tuesday I'll have a review for you guys from the Detroit show which I'm so looking forward to. It's gonna be extra special for me because my kids will be there with me to enjoy it as well. After 35+ Neil shows, I can't remember being as excited and full of anticipation as I am for this one!

At 4/26/2011 08:00:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Great review, SH. I agree with you about how doing Cinnamon Girl solo. It's like a rough sketch in it's solo version by comparison to the masterpiece he re-creates with his bandmates.

"I Believe In You" is such a beautiful song. I've never heard it live so I can't imagine the "ohGod!" euphoria of hearing it being played after all these years. It was like hearing "OhLOnesome Me" in 2007. I almost cried. Imagine, hearing George Harrison in the flesh doing "All Things Must Pass" because that's exactly the way I felt.

I'm not one to shout out requests but I'm bringing a "Tulsa or Bust" sign to roll out from the balcony when he comes to Cincinnati.

Everyone will think it's a new song which would be pretty funny.

At 4/26/2011 10:24:00 AM, Blogger Mr Henry said...

I had the same reaction when they played Oh Lonesome Me in 2007. It was my favorite song of the night, and there were many great ones played during that show (Dec 3 at The Orpheum).

The version in Trunk Show is equally amazing. That was recorded a week later...Neil and his band were completely in-the-zone during that stretch. Then hearing it almost exactly a year later in late 2008 was the proverbial cherry on the top!

Enjoy the show Mother Nature; hope you get your wish and Neil plays Last Trip to Tulsa (who knows?). Many folks probably would think it's a new song. That happened back in '92 when he opened with Old Laughing Lady and the (very wasted) crew sitting behind me said "this must be a new one".

And thanks for your earlier kind words...Go Ride the Music!

At 4/26/2011 07:42:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Do you remember when he did "Spirit Road" and "No Hidden Path?"

I heard "Ambulance Blues live in 2007 which was another surprise from good old Father Time.

I never thought I'd ever hear "I believe in you," either, but it looks like it's on the menu!

At 4/26/2011 11:43:00 PM, Blogger Mr Henry said...

Oh yeah, do I ever remember those songs! Ambulance Blues was incredible and was at the top of my "well I'll probably never hear this one live" list. Love Art Blues, Love Is A Rose, Bad Fog of! Might have been more great surprises during that tour than any other I've seen (and there's been lots of shows and pleasant surprises).

Spirit Road amazing and No Hidden Path? Never wanted it to end! Sad Movies followed by Man Needs a Maid was draining in the best way; Neil never said so directly but seemed to be his tribute to Carrie.

And Winterlong was the song he did just before Oh Lonesome Me -- what an amazing couple of songs, especially back-to-back. I saw The Pixies a few years back open their show with Winterlong, which they recorded for The Bridge album. Black Francis is a huge Neil fan and this one was a major curveball for about 90% of the crowd!

So maybe the next tour Neil will pull out some more of these, or maybe the next next tour. And maybe the guy in Providence will get his wish and hear him play Pressure! I've heard this live a few times, but it's been around a quarter century now. Imagine having such a well to draw from...and it keeps getting deeper and deeper.

At 4/27/2011 08:30:00 AM, Blogger ShittyHorse said...

Really great topic- Songs I've heard played live, I never thought I would. I have a few:
Don't Cry No Tears
Crime in the City
Out of my Mind
Danger Bird
Bad Fog of Loneliness
World on a String
Dance Dance Dance
Old Country Waltz
Love Art Blues
No One Seems to Know
The Hitchhiker
I also never thought I'd hear Cowgirl in the Sand either and after about 14 shows I still hadn't, but then show 15 I was front row and he played a killer version. Awesome.
I still want to hear
Mideast Vacation
Transformer Man
Change Your Mind
Round and Round
and many many many more

At 4/28/2011 12:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets just hope he has a legitimate 'birth certificate'!

Will wonders never cease!?!?!?!?

Take my advice
Don't listen to me


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