Concert Review of the Moment: Neil Young @ Massey Hall, Toronto - January 12, 2014
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The Concert Review of the Moment is from Massey Hall, Toronto - January 12, 2014 by the ever so prolific Anonymous:
Yes, great show at Massey Hall last night. Neil was in really fine fettle both onstage and backstage afterwards – very open, warm and humorous.Thanks Anonymous! Nice review. Good to see you've tempered your emotions of late. ;) Maybe adopt a handle next time?
The show, as others have noted, was a little shorter – Neil came on about an hour late. Everyone here has talked about how wonderful Neil was in vocally, and I concur. Every now and then he reached down deep and sang very, very strongly – Ohio and especially Southern Man being the best examples. So there seem to have been some very intentional dynamics to his singing.
Neil's comment, noted in a post above, about 'not being able to sleep' was in reference to his writing 'Mellow My Mind' in the middle of the night while enjoying a bout of insomnia. A rather funny story because all of a sudden out of nowhere he just started talking about insomnia in a manner that seemed completely unconnected to anything goin on. Let’s just say that I probably wasn’t the only one in Massey Hall who was wondering ‘Now where in the world do ya think he’s going with this one?’ And then he just picked up the banjo and in about half a sentence resolved it all with typically off-beat humour and shit-eating grin in reference to what he was about to play.
Also, regarding Pocahantus, he mentioned backstage that he’d written a really funny additional verse about Stephen Harper but unfortunately forgot it on stage.
First time I’ve seen Dianna Krall. She opened with a powerful version of Dylan’s ‘Every Grain Of Sand’, complete with soulful gospel piano, followed by another powerful version of ‘Don’t Fence Me In’ . . . and it just went from there. At one point she went off on a rather amusing short monologue about how she used to play his songs in Nanaimo, British Columbia as a young girl, and now here she was playing his piano. She then completed the thought by saying that she ‘just might have to steal Neil’s piano’. And her piano playing – much of it was literally like a virtuouso who’d just been let out of a lunatic asylum. Some of it rapturously beautiful, and other of it like a cascading collision of multiple key signatures and styles. Very, very expressive – particularly on one of Tom Waits’ delightfully mad tunes that she did. She also did tunes by Warren Zevon and Randy Newman. Overall she seems like a real character – a smokey-voiced chanteuse who was just as offbeat and quirky, if not moreso, than Neil and his musings. Not too hard on the eyes either.
One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is just how incredibly beautiful, incantational and hypnotic the traditional music by Chippewa drum/singing circle was – we got to listen to a little piece of the long ages with that. Much of the drumming/ singing was accompanied by a fairly shocking and heartbreaking large screen video about the Athabaska Tar Sands by Greenpeace. Also, twice the Chippewa ‘Mother’ – whose name I never caught – spoke very gracefully about their cause, and expressed deep gratitude to Neil and also ‘Mother’ Diana Krall for their support. One other thing, Neil’s brother Bob told me a little about the media blitz Neil was doing and would continue to do in order to to get under the skin and up the nose of Harper Inc. and the oil Titans. The plan is to repeatedly draw as much public attention to the issue as possible for each of the four shows.
It will be interesting to see what kind of reception the ‘Honor The Treaties’ roadshow gets in the fair city of Calgary (BTW – small nit, but Bob also noted how the person who did all the ‘Honor The Treaties’ collateral – including a huge fabric poster as the stage backdrop – unfortunately used the U.S. English spelling of “Honor” – it’s “Honour” up in these parts)
The concert as a whole, within the context of that entire experience – NOT TO MENTION NEIL PLAYING ONE GEM AFTER ANOTHER SOLO IN THAT UNBELIEVABLY RIVETING WAY THAT SO DEEPLY AND DISARMINGLY AFFECTS THE EMOTIONS AND UNLOCKS ALL KINDS OF COMPLEX MEMORIES AND FEELINGS – was one of the best I’ve been to. The overall vibe of everyone in Massey Hall was wonderful.
. . . which reminds of two other things: First, at one point Neil talked about Massey Hall – in a way reminiscent of what he said in the Heart Of Gold DVD about the Ryman Theatre – and about how he hopes the old Hall survives (hidden stained glass windows and all it) in the face of yet more of encroaching . . . er . . . so-called ‘development’. And second, Gordon Lightfoot – no stranger to Massey Hall – was backstage and he’s looking very healthy these days.
That’s it in the proverbial nutshell . . .
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