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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Neil Young Concert Reviews: Toronto - January 12, 2014

Neil Young's four city concert run to benefit "Honor The Treaties" starts tonight, Sunday, Jan 12 at Toronto's Massey Hall.

Got a report? Drop us a comment below.

Check Sugar Mountain for setlist updates and Chronological Grid, Recording Summary, Statistics and Extras.

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At 1/12/2014 10:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like some friends are out having a good time for a fabulous cause!
Bravo Neil Young, Bravo!

At 1/12/2014 11:30:00 PM, Blogger RSS said...

Just back from the Massey Hall show. Was a spectacular show. Diana Krall was great to start off the night. Neil came out and was in a great mood. Interacted with the audience. I cant remember everything.....But there were a few twists from past shows. No Needle and Damage, no Flying on the ground. But we got Pocahontas on the pump organ. Neil's voice is perfect. His guitar playing is amazing. Highlights for me....From Hank to Hendrix best I've ever heard. Old Man (a greatest hits classic) was superb. Pocahontas was great to hear and he mixed it up a bit nailing Stephen Harper on breaking the treaties with this song. "Stephen Harper, Pocahontas and Me. Stephen Harper, Keep the treaties"

I've heard lots of live Neil and this was a really really good set of songs done really really well.

All in all a great night at a great venue.

At 1/13/2014 03:15:00 AM, Anonymous Carson said...

Good lord, that Massey Hall show tonight was magic! There was an electric connection between Neil and the audience the entire show. Just a very positive spiritual scene from beginning to end. Neil was all smiles all night! And "Pocahontas", oh man! What an awesome surprise! That easily ranks as the number one Neil show I've ever seen. I had a "direct eye contact" moment with Neil that felt like an electric shock. I'll be buzzin' off that one for a long time. What a night!

Also, Diana Krall kicked ass.

At 1/13/2014 03:21:00 AM, Anonymous Carson said...


Heart of Gold:

Southern Man:


At 1/13/2014 03:44:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil Young blasts Stephen Harper’s Tories before kicking off “Honour the Treaties” tour

Toronto Star with video:

At 1/13/2014 03:48:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Canada is trading integrity for money'

At 1/13/2014 03:54:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 68-year-old Toronto-born, Winnipeg-raised rocker called Stephen Harper’s Conservatives “a very poor imitation of the George Bush administration in the United States”

At 1/13/2014 03:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first ever Neil Young concert. It was excellent, I really liked Ohio and from hank to hendrix. Also like how he talked to the audience and responded in a fun way to some of the shouts from the crowd. Seems like a down to earth guy. Also was cool of him to shake the hands of the audience members in the front row at the end of the show.

Only thing I regret is not purchasing better seats. I was sitting in the right side gallery and didnt get to see the performances of him sitting down too well. Eh but you get what you pay for, next time I will for sure try to get a floor ticket. Also massey hall is kind of a weird venue, I noticed a few people whos seats were directly infront of polls.

At 1/13/2014 07:10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was at the show last night, Neil was in fine form, if not his best in recent years when it comes to being solo. I have not missed a show of his in the last 10 years in Toronto, also was at Journey's opening at TIFF

The things I have to rag about is that it didn't feel like a Neil show, the audience was to behaved and pretentious (maybe because of all the latest press). It also felt more like a plug for his latest album (cellar Door) than a benefit concert, must not be selling well.

All in all it the song selection was good, sound perfect and performance tight. In other words a Snooze Fest

He did mention something about having a hard time sleeping in the show, maybe it was a cure for insomniac's

If your there just for the music it was perfect, for the experience a little disappointing.

money still well spent

At 1/13/2014 08:14:00 AM, Anonymous SD said...

Yeah, must be a show because the album is not selling well, even though these shows were announced well before the album even went on sale.

At 1/13/2014 09:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part II

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 . . .

At 1/13/2014 09:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part I

Yes, great show at Massey Hall last night. Neil was in really fine fettle both onstage and backstage afterwards – very open, warm and humorous.

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. 

(See Part II for more)

At 1/13/2014 09:57:00 AM, Blogger tuned4life said...

Well, I was surprised to see Neil's bus with the horrific weather We have had lately. As usual the chrome wheels were spotless as was the rest of the bus. After the sound check Neil's people hurried Him onto the bus. There was a large crowd of people hanging around. One of Neil's guys collected a few albums and CD's and took them onto the bus and Neil signed them. It was My Lady friends 3rd Neil concert, I think it was My 53rd. Of the acoustic shows I've seen this was by far the best. I spent a fortune to get front row floor seats and glad I did. Neil was in a great mood from start to finish. More engaged with the fans than I have ever seen before. Everyone up close to the stage was very well behaved. When Neil came out for the encore I broke out My camera and got some great close up pics. Neil's voice was hauntingly perfect as was His playing. Hard to pic a highlight. It was a magical night. The thing I will remember most is shaking hands after the encore. One for the ages. Doug S. Warsaw N.Y.

At 1/13/2014 11:27:00 AM, Anonymous SD said...

@ Anon:

The spelling of "honour" has nothing to do with Neil. Honor the Treaties is an organization that has been around since before Neil Young's involvement through these concerts. The spelling is their spelling as they have it on their website:

I believe the organization crosses country lines so they just use the one spelling/logo.

At 1/13/2014 01:24:00 PM, Anonymous SD said...

Neil did an interview with Jian Ghomeshi on Q Radio today:

At 1/13/2014 02:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great show last night, maybe the best I've ever seen (and I've seen about 15 shows)! Neil was in a great mood and the audience was mostly respectful. In addition to what others have said here are a few random thoughts:

Before Neil came out, while the Native drummers were playing, they showed a (silent) film of aerial footage of the Tar Sands with captions on the screen about what was shown. It looked pretty bad, Neil wasn't far off with his Hiroshima comparison. David Suzuki was sitting right in front of the screen in the first row.

Someday was a highlight for me since I love that song and never thought I would ever hear it live. Neil changed 'Alaska' to 'Trans-Canada': "Workin' on that Trans-Canada pipeline."

Pocahontas was a nice surprise, especially since I've never heard him play it on the pump organ. I thought it was odd he replaced Marlon Brando with Stephen Harper. Didn't he reference Brando in the song because he once had a Native American woman accept an Oscar on his behalf to call attention to their plight? Stephen Harper could give a rat's ass about their plight, so I thought that was a strange choice (maybe Neil wishes Harper was more like Brando?). Neil also changed 'Hollywood' to 'Ottawa'.

Before he was about to play Heart Of Gold, he said "This one's for my sweetheart, she's not here today.. but she's everywhere" or something like that. Then someone called out for Needle Of Death so Neil asked "You really want to me to play that? Okay, I will" and he played that instead. When he played Heart Of Gold after that, the crowd went nuts.

Neil's playing was very shaky/tentative on most songs, almost as though he wasn't sure of the right notes. Someone before mentioned epilepsy but I think it's just his age showing. He did make a few minor mistakes here and there but quickly corrected himself. When he played Old Man, his strumming was much more deliberate, a noticeable difference from previous songs. Ohio was also played with much intensity (like the Live at Massey Hall version).

There was no intermission at all, maybe they were short on time. Was expecting Neil to talk about First Nations issues/the Tar Sands since that was what the concert was for, but he said very little if anything. As others have said, 'Honour' and 'Defence' used the American spelling on the large backdrop and also on the handouts at the merchandise table. They had some petitions there as well, which I signed.

A minor pet peeve (not Neil's fault): due to renovations, there was no coat check available (in the middle of winter!) so I had to keep my big coat on my lap all evening with my knapsack under my seat, oh well.

All in all, a night I will never forget! Thank you Neil!


At 1/13/2014 03:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

See Neil Young's Press conference before the Toronto Massey Hall Concert:

At 1/13/2014 03:54:00 PM, Anonymous RustyLinc said...

Was I hearing things or does Needle of Death sound like Ambulance Blues

At 1/13/2014 04:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really looking forward to the Winnipeg show !! Can anyone tell me what was at the merch booth at the Massey Hall show? Also was it all honour the treaties stuff? Looking at the signed poster on the donation site but its kinda vague.....


At 1/13/2014 07:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He said he wrote 'Mellow My Mind' one night when he couldn't sleep. That's what he was talking about when he kept going on about not sleeping. Interesting tidbit I thought, makes sense.

I thought the show was stellar. Especially enjoyed 'Someday' 'Southern Man' which I hadn't seen live before, and of course 'Pocahontas' brought the house down.


At 1/14/2014 06:10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the Petropolis trailer:

At 1/14/2014 07:24:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ya, they have the same poster for $30, and the same image on a tshirt for $40. Think they had a hoodie too, maybe some other stuff.

At 1/14/2014 10:54:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

sorry to be totally off topic ... came across this 5 minute clip on You Tube of Graham Nash talking about Neil (from oct '13) ... i don't remember seeing it on TW prior and only has 4,000 views so seems somewhat obscure


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