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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Neil Young Concert Reviews - Richmond, VA, April 17, 2011

"Watching Neil Young play the guitar for Walk With Me encore was like watching Jackson Pollock paint. Perfect analogy."
Twitter / @Kira Siddall

In probably one of the most poorly researched concert reviews we've come across in awhile, the Richmond Times-Dispatch's "Neil Young concert could have used more old, less new" review by BILL CRAIG manages to hit all of the possible mis-understandings of Neil Young's music.

It seems that Richmond Times-Dispatch readers disagree with Bill Craig's review as well.

A sampling of reader comments...
Posted by Brenna on April 18, 2011 - 5:10 a.m.

It ought not be surprising to either this critic or the one who reviewed the opening show in N.C., that Mr. Young has chosen to support his most recent work. I'm always left scratching my head when reading a review that criticizes a musician for performing pieces from their latest effort.

The sell out crowd for the opening show at the Durham Performing Arts Center was incredibly enthusiastic with every tune and for that matter, every note. Young is one of the few artist who's truly ripened with age as his playing and singing have not diminished in the least. Neither this review nor the one for The News and Observer elaborated on Young's playing or vocals but rather chose to discuss other "essentials" like his fedora and stage "sauntering."

For those of us for whom the music matters, we watched and listened to a man who survived polio as a child, an adult lifetime of epileptic seizures, tragedy beyond measure in his personal life with the devastating illnesses of two children and a brain aneurysm that should have killed him just a few years ago, give of his time to share his art with those who still want to hear it. Neil Young doesn't have to do this anymore. He's given "at the office" for almost five decades.

This commentary should have, at the very least, reflected some appreciation for what Mr. Young is still able and more importantly, wanting to give us.

Neil Young doesn't require a "review" from a newspaper writer following a performance in Richmond. A simple re-cap of the songs he chose to play for his fans would more than suffice. Of course, Mr. Craig obviously decided it's his "job" - or perhaps "privilege" - to offer a critique of Neil's musical offerings tonight. Sadly, he is sorely lacking the musical, historical, and perhaps generational experience to fill the shoes of one capable of doing something along those lines.
Posted by Reason on April 18, 2011 - 3:03 a.m.

I will not impugn Mr Craig's opinion of the show but I will make two points-when reviewing an artist 's live work it helps if you have heard and like his current work-clearly he's at least looked up the song titles and it's obvious that like Neil's voice, he didn't like Le Noise either.

Secondly, the mark of a true artist is that he/she doesn't copy what they've done in the past-they are constantly growing and changing their art. Miles Davis would be another good example of how, much like Neil, if you showed up expecting cake he would give you pie-his artistic integrity overshadows any pandering to commercial success. That this has been successful (ie a hall full of fans who've paid up to $200 to be there) is a testament to his unique genius. Put simply Neil Young doesn't sound like anyone else and for those those appreciate his view of the world, it's been a helluva good ride.

BTW he's touring with Stephen Stills and Ritchie Furay this summer as Buffalo Springfield-somehow I think Mr Craig would enjoy those almost 50 year old songs more than what he heard from Neil tonight. Too bad Mark Holmberg wasn't available to go instead.
Posted by robp on April 18, 2011 - 2:11 a.m.

Mr. Craig seems to have attended a different concert than the thousands of fans who filled the Landmark Theatre Saturday night to see and hear one of Rock musics truest legends. Mr. Young at 65 years old showed no signs of aging in an exciting and varied 17 song set from throughout his illustrious career. Mr. Craig failed to mention that Young's latest CD Le Noise was not only on top of all of 2010's top musics lists, but one track from it won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance. Stating that Young's voice was an acquired taste was not only condescending, but unnecessary, since the sold out audience who paid from $55-250 clearly were believers. The performance was well paced, exciting, and memorable and showed Young's range from folk to rock to grunge to experimental and more. Mr. Craig's review completely missed the subtly of Young's artistry and genius.
Posted by curieux on April 18, 2011 - 1:33 a.m.

How old is this reviewer? Do you realize time does not stand still. Sitting around in your dorm room smoking the funny stuff and hoping that Cinnamon Girl is going to be your suite mate is passe. It is incredible in our time to see a Folk/Rock and Roller still relevant doing things on his own terms and not slagging while relying solely on his 30 year old standards to make a buck. Yea, it is great to hear a guy with a repertoire that has classics, and he played them well, but time moves on for any artist. Those who wallow in the past get left behind, and their work diminished to "best of" albums. (you probably to not know what an album is) Neil did it tonight on his terms as true artist do. And for your info, I am probably old enough to be your father, still rock, and like to move forward.

Neil Young will be performing tonight at Landmark Theater, Richmond, Virginia. Special guest Bert Jansch will open concert.

Got a report? Drop a comment below.

Check Sugar Mountain for setlist updates.

Also, see Neil Young's "Twisted Road" Concert Tour Reviews and the right, middle sidebar for continuous real time RSS feed updates.

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At 4/18/2011 10:22:00 AM, Blogger skayak said...

The Neil Young concert in Richmond was everything I expected, and more. It is hard to believe his voice is still so good. His opening four acoustic songs blew me away with their sound quality. It is easy to forget what a great guitar player he is, until you see him live. He played a good mix of old and new, acoustic and electric. One person with me, was disappointed he didn't play more of his older acoustic songs. Don't forget his career has spanned nearly 50 years and included periods of folk rock, country, hard rock and grunge. The concert was well worth the pricey ticket.

At 4/18/2011 10:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was no disappointment in last nights concert. His voice after all these years, impressive.
A man, his guitars, an organ, upright piano, grand piano and harmonica priceless. It doesn't get any better; the man always delivers.

At 4/18/2011 11:27:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw Neil at the famed Spartenburg show last summer, and though there was a better aura around that show, more communication with the audience, and more people on their feet, I have to say that seeing this show in Richmond last night, was a better 'performance' from a technical aspect. It seems like Neil really perfected the new material, especially 'Love and War', which had this cool Mexican riff in it (El Dorado like). And 'Down by the River' solo electric is pretty much worth the price of admission.

At 4/18/2011 11:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

look at it this way, would you pay $10 to hear neil play a song for you in a small venue with great acoustics, or mind blowing feedback. well he's playing seventeen songs at $10. each song that will put you in most of the ticket price categories give or take few bucks

At 4/18/2011 11:59:00 AM, Anonymous wmcgurn said...

Agreed with previous comments especially that a number of folks commented that his voice is in great shape. Compared to the DAR show in DC last May: most of the crowd was there and very attentive for Bert Jansch. The ushers kept the doors closed and you could only go to your seats between songs. The audience was a lot quieter compared to DC and I could hear all of his guitar playing and about half of the lyrics. For Neil, the show was mored polished and smooth. I seem to remember more feedback/psych/distortion for the intro's and endings of the songs. Wasn't nearly as loud this time, but maybe that's because in DC we were 3rd row and last night we were orchestra right under the balcony. In any case most folks came away incredibly impressed and can't wait to see him tour with a band again. Me included (even Trunk Show would be welcome).

At 4/18/2011 12:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the main article

"Secondly, the mark of a true artist is that he/she doesn't copy what they've done in the past-they are constantly growing and changing their art."

How exactly does that work? Isn't Neil playing the same exact show he's been doing for about a year now? He isn't changing anything really, song for song he played the same exact show about a year ago

At 4/18/2011 02:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you are going to slag Neil for playing a fixed set list?
I didn't see any of the dozens of other shows where he played the same set list, so it was new to me.
And I was in the first 7 rows, center orchestra, and I could hear almost everything he said in between songs, mostly "Thank you, thanks for coming".
Dan McGurn, RVA

At 4/18/2011 05:14:00 PM, Blogger karen said...

I was so lucky to be in Durham and RIchmond, and especially lucky to have scored a front row seat in the pre-sale for Richmond last night. OMG! I'm still flyin' high from it. It's a beautiful, beautiful show, Neil is on fire! More on The Rust List or my blog if you wanna read it. Go, go, go if you can! I'll be going again - Wild horses couldn't drag me away. Love, Karen

At 4/18/2011 05:42:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

Karen - after reading your blog
"I'm living in a Streamland"

Thanks. I needed that. My first impression of this leg was, "the same thing?" Why?

Putting on my Albany CDs from last year right now and gonna let the fuzz cover me all over again.

At 4/18/2011 05:51:00 PM, Blogger karen said...

Thanks SONY! Go, go, go! : ) x

At 4/18/2011 06:14:00 PM, Blogger Sean said...

The show was great last night! "Cortez the Killer" was awesome! Does anyone know if there is a recording of the concert?

At 4/18/2011 06:45:00 PM, Blogger Mo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 4/18/2011 06:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

we all give at the office.

Musicians make money performing.
Patrons pay musicians to perform.
Patrons not happy with musicians performance, patrons go away, musicians go away.


At 4/18/2011 08:29:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher said...

Thanks everyone for your reports!

Good to know Neil's going strong.

@Karen - thanks for links! We'll see ya down the road!

At 4/18/2011 11:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great venue, great show, great music. Neil rocked the house. His voice was clear and strong. His guitar playing was usual. See video from the show on YouTube.

At 4/19/2011 04:22:00 AM, Blogger Harm said...

@Anon (4/18/2011 12:36:00 PM):

Last year someone pointed out that Neil Young isn't the Grateful Dead, playing for the same crowd a couple of nights in a row. In 2007, 08 and 09 he had way more variation in his sets, up to 40/50 different songs in total, but if you compare the 'style' of those tours to this one, they are vastly different. Change isn't always playing a different set of songs every night. I mean, during the Greendale years he played the same first set night after night as well, but still, it was vastly different from what he had been playing in 2002 with CSNY and Booker T. Not a single tour is the same, in contrast to for example CSNY or the Eagles, who are nostalgia acts. That doesn't matter, cause that is what their fans want. Rusties want something else. More than half of the setlist is new or rare songs and the electric songs have been vastly revised as well.


At 4/19/2011 04:18:00 PM, Blogger TOM said...

harm is spot on.
neil plays oldies, criticized
neil plays new, criticized
plays different setlists,criticized
plays same setlists,crticized

have seen neil over 100 times( ducks,last waltz,boarding house world tour,etc,etc)including last summer at ryman and this spring in detroit and chicago and this summer in oakland with buffalo.

neil does what he wants when he wants and i either like it or not.

so be it.

"it all sounds the same..
it's all one song...

At 4/19/2011 04:39:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

I'll be okay whatever he sets his mind on doing, but it would be nice to hear "Last Trip to Tulsa" when he rolls into Cincy. Everyone will think it's a new song.

I love "Walk with Me" but I keep hearing "It's an Angry World" in my head ALL THE TIME and I want to move away from the angry world.

At 4/22/2011 07:46:00 PM, Anonymous patrick said...

this man is a genius; he sets his own self-imposed high standards and you understand that or you don't. the richmond show was a singular experience.


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