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Monday, April 21, 2014

Maybe The Best Neil Young Concert Review EVER

Neil Young
Dallas 18 Apr 2014
photo by Sten Thorborg
(Click photo to enlarge)

By now, we must have read a million Neil Young concert reviews -- or at least it feels like it.

So when we come across a review that really strikes us, we like to share it with our friends who "get Neil". So it is with great pleasure that we bring to you one of the finest Neil Young concert reviews we've ever read.

So sit back and enjoy this review of Neil Young at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Texas on April 18, 2014 by Bucks Burnett. Thanks for sharing Bucks. Straight from the heart out to the people.
Essay On Neil Young Performance
Meyerson Symphony Center
Dallas, Texas
April 18, 2014
by Bucks Burnett

Last night was not a concert. It was a congregation being blessed by snake oil from a traveling salesman. But this guy carries the real stuff because we are healed from our earthly concerns. This was a very rare example of paying $200 for a four million dollar show. He took us away and we are not coming back. I do not want to hear music today or talk to people today. Or be seen. I want to be alone with this vibration in my soul.

By the standards of most hardcore Neil Young fans, I am a complete lightweight. Have seen him less than ten times, don't own a single bootleg. Pathetic. But he means what he means to me, which is a lot. Millions are influenced and inspired by him, so it's not unique to be a big fan. But where the uniqueness sets in is in the heart; he holds a very high place in my heart and soul and mind. Those feelings are unique to me, as they are to anyone else who holds him dear. It's a very personal thing to like Neil Young. It's a bit unfair to Neil, all of us focusing on him so much, so I cast my love lightly.

I saw him a few times from the mid 80's to the late 90's, and then stopped going, for no particular reason. Like I said, no follower status for me. But to me it's serious, because of how it feels. I met him in 1987 by his tour bus and we had a nice chat. Does that count for anything? When I worked at Warner Bros. Records in Burbank in 1985, I wrote the Billboard Magazine trade ad for Old Ways. It just said 'The New Neil Young.' Kind of ironic and my boss loved it. I was at a party in L.A. and two guys next to me were having a conversation about the ad. I told them I had written it and they said it was genius. Now that was a funny moment, and it was at that point I decided to quit my job at Warners and go back to Texas, because I decided I did not want to live in a town where people talk about the fucking trade ad more than the record. So I gave notice, and during my last week there a young guy from Slash records was introduced as my replacement. Bill Bentley and I were already friends, so I was glad that Bill would inherit my office. Bill worked at WB for many years, and eventually became Neil's publicist for awhile, so go figure skate. We always joke that by quitting my fancy job, I changed two lives - his and mine. My fork in the road became his table setting. Bill is from Texas like me and we will be best friends forever. I always like to say that if I had been born Bill Bentley I might be somebody someday.

So, a handful of gigs, a meeting by the bus, and a trade ad. That's all I got for ya, people.

Because of my lightweight status, I did not buy tickets to Neil's two gigs at the big fancy Meyerson Symphony Center. The prices were scary. I'm 55, slowing down on all this. I thought about it. Then Thursday night, April 17th, my friend Hubert, who is not a lightweight, called me from the Meyerson. He sounded shaken. He told me I had to go Friday. It was the best Neil show he had ever seen. Coming from Hubert, that meant a lot. I emailed Bill. He told me to get my ass to that gig no matter what. When Bill says jump I look for a trampoline. My online ticket search brought only bad news. Sky high prices. I wrote Neil's manager asking for help, which was a ridiculous thing to do. I ended up just driving to the Meyerson and they had a few tickets so I was actually relieved by the time I was breaking up forever with $215. Lower balcony by the soundboard. I was in. That was all that mattered by that point.

This is not a review of the show; this is a review of my experience. This is how it made me feel and what it made me think. This is my mind on Neil.
The first half was great, solo acoustic, with piano and organ, and carved Indian. I want to be his Indian roadie. A very powerful set marred by idiots talking through many of the songs no matter how many times we scolded them. At one point a guy started actually interviewing Neil in a loud voice from the audience. Neil just laughed it off and started the next song. You can go on about how people behave at a concert like this, but in the end you gotta remember that even when a genius is playing, a dumbass will always be talking. That's not a Neil problem, that's an Earth problem. Humans will never get it together. Maybe we're not meant to. But when you are a human opening your second set with "Cortez The Killer" on acoustic guitar, you might be considered a human who may have gotten it together.

The second set arced up, and it was during "Man Needs A Maid" that I realized something was happening that had not been advertised; we were all being kidnapped. Neil was taking us somewhere new. As he wandered the stage telling funny stories about buying Hank Williams' guitar, and decided which guitar to play, or the piano, or the pipe organ, I started not caring which song was playing or how well it was played. My soul was being changed. He told us that the Meyerson was in the top 2 or 3 venues that he had ever played in America. Big news from the man who hates bad sound.

Near the end he played the pipe organ, which was elevated. I was thinking, 'There he is on top of the mountain. An older man who wrote "Old Man," taking a look at himself cause he's a lot like him.' Gratitude welled in me; that he is still here, that I can still hear. What a sight to see such a cool guy surrounded by guitars he loves in a hall he loves playing to people in awe. I thought, 'He has made it to the future and taken us with him. I can film him with my telephone but I won't, and he can charge way too much money but it's not. Holy fuck, I'm having a Moment.

Near the end of the show, and I can't tell you why, or how it felt, I started realizing this was the best Neil show I had ever seen. Scratch that, the best show by anybody I had ever seen. That was astounding.

Forget the setlist. Images play in my head two days later. The vibrations continue within. His album covers float in my head. Here's what I decided about that night.

Neil Young is a traveling snake oil salesman. But he gets his oil from real snakes. Exotic snakes undocumented by National Geographic. He wanders the planet in his amazing tour bus, which I briefly stood in once. He's charging a fortune and telling fortunes, changing misfortune into wine in places that charge wine prices for water.

At home after the show I was too in awe of my experience to listen to music. I laid in bed typing comments on facebook about the show, which is beyond lame, but that is what we do these days. But I decided that this snake oil salesman is in fact a magic hobo, driving around in his ancient bus, playing halls. But what he's doing is illogical but not illegal, not yet. He is stealing souls.

That night in Dallas, as we cheered and stared, all of our souls were flying straight into the hole of Hank Williams' guitar. He finally figured out how to really help us. It's not about his songs healing us anymore, that is not enough. He knows he's mortal, on a train that will go over the cliff at some point. When Neil Young dies, everyone will freak out over the loss, and lament the passing of a great man, and be sad that he cannot ever sing or write again, and that his likes will not be seen again. And that's fair.

But it's only half true. Something amazing is happening on this tour. He's giving the shows of his life, but that's not even the good part. The good thing is that he is stealing souls. He's a very clever man, and he has figured out that if he outdoes himself just greatly enough, our souls will all fly into Hank's guitar. He's got the guitar on the tourbus, and the bus is following the miniature Lionel train locomotive, unseen on the silvery tracks of Time. When the train and the bus reach the end of the tracks, Neil will disappear. That will be funny to Neil, as he takes one last look back, and the train and the bus pull up into the Dark Vast Beyond, into the stars beyond this world.

Where he is going we do not know. And I don't care. He's never led me wrong. He takes the scenic path but he gets there. He is grinning already because he knows he is rescuing us in the only way he knows. He blasts us with Martin vibrations, and we echo back to him, into Hank's guitar. Into Hank's magic guitar, where part of us will live until the guitar itself is handed back to Hank in the Celestial Whatever. At least two worlds exist by my count; This One and That One. Now that I'm in the guitar, I'm connected to both. Where Neil goes, I go, with all the vibrations of all the people who went in with me, before me, after me.

So the day after the gig, I was contemplating if I could even drive to work at my record store. i was kind of in a trance. I decided I was right; that was the best concert I had ever seen. And I realized that I am no longer here, not completely. Part of my soul is with Neil, in the guitar in the case on the bus, headed wherever he is going, here, there, Eterniwhere.

Not a morning person. But today I woke up in awe, in love, in joy, from last night's show. Still stand by it; the best concert I have ever seen. Holy water to the masses from a universal hobo. In a stupid state of wordless bliss. Too sacred. Neil Young took us all away. Not coming back to earth for awhile. Floating. Can someone drive me to work? Because I may be in a trance.

The vibrations of sound and soul linger and mingle, passing and joining each other. We are all dissolving into Time as it fades away. I will never be fully Here again because part of me is There, ahead of schedule. My ticket to Infinity was $215. Plus gratuity for the Porter, once I arrive. And they say you can't get a bargain these days.

Our species, The Humans, are not always on top of our game. It can get embarrassing. But tonight, Neil Young demonstrated why People were invented; to do many many magnificent things, things that inspire People to be more wonderful. Tonight I am proud of our species, because of what one of us has done for so many of us. Thank you Neil, for the greatest concert I have ever seen, a heroic and inspiring night beyond description or comprehension. If you ever need another Martin guitar, you can have mine. I surrender.

PS: If I leave sooner than expected, I will be replaced by Bill Bentley.

Bucks Burnett
Blurred Visionary
Dallas, Texas
April 20, 2014
Thanks Bucks! Really is an honor and privilege to share so much with our fellow Neil fans. Long May You Run, sir. We'll see you, Neil, Hank & Bill in the Celestial Whatever, someday, when smog turns to stars.

Neil Young
Dallas 18 Apr 2014
photo by Sten Thorborg
(Click photo to enlarge)

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At 4/21/2014 10:34:00 AM, Anonymous Jorma leppänen said...

Thank you so much! I've been to some Neil Young concerts in Berlin and Helsinki and always thought about Rainer Maria Rilke: du musst dein Leben ändern. Here is a guy who walks his talk. Life is holy.

At 4/21/2014 10:42:00 AM, Anonymous SandCowgirl said...

Beautifully stated, Bucks. You have put some of my feelings about Neil's music into words...which is very difficult to do. I haven't been to many shows, either...but I have appreciated each one tremendously... There's something very magical when the sounds of "A Man Needs a Maid" meander through the concert hall air...I'm so glad you had such a wonderful experience.

At 4/21/2014 10:55:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I highly recomend an exhibition in Düsseldorf, Germany , Kunstpalast, artpalast, ....When Neil plays in Germany, Moenchengladbach, Hockeypark, he has maybe time to visit the exibition.

For the first time in Germany, an exhibition spanning all epochs and genres will be introducing the exciting link between art and alchemy in past and present times. 250 works from antiquity to the present, encompassing Baroque art, Surrealism, through to contemporary art from collections and museums in the USA, Great Britain, France, Mexico and Israel reveal the fascination which alchemy exerted for many visual artists. Artists featured in the exhibition, such as Joseph Beuys, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Max Ernst, Hendrick Goltzius, Rebecca Horn, Anish Kapoor, Yves Klein, Sigmar Polke, Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens and David Teniers the Younger invite visitors to explore the mystery of transformation.

At 4/21/2014 11:06:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

Thanks SandCowgirl! As you say, beautifully stated.

In some sense, we're all Neil lightweights. We could've been contenders but we're just pretenders.

@Anon - thanks for exhibit info. Our 1st instinct was delete for irrelevancy. But on 2nd thought, it seems as if Neil curated the exhibit.

NY is truly the Alchemist of The Muse. ;)

At 4/21/2014 01:13:00 PM, Blogger setlistthief said...

Wonderful review, Bucks. It's almost as if you could read my mind.

And you know what's funny? "The New Neil Young" applies to every new album and every new performance.

At 4/21/2014 01:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I shot the cover for "Everybody's Rockin" and "old ways"...I know Bill from our LA Weekly days in the trenches...great writing about a great experience. I never reply to these things, but this time I had to...thanks

At 4/21/2014 03:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Neil Young is a traveling snake oil salesman. But he gets his oil from real snakes. Exotic snakes undocumented by National Geographic. "

Thanks for the great story Bucks!

At 4/21/2014 07:19:00 PM, Blogger Nate said...

I'd say that's very well expressed. I was high on the last Crazy Horse show for an entire summer.

At 4/22/2014 06:51:00 AM, Blogger darlobuc said...

I know we are getting the Horse again this summer and we should be thankful for small mercies. But it's a real shame he's not bringing this show to Europe.

At 4/22/2014 09:35:00 AM, Anonymous Michael1984 said...

I would have loved to have seen Neil on this tour...or any of the tours in the past 10 years. I have only seen NY once, way back in 1986. I think it was the 3rd or 4th concert I ever saw. Someday I'll be able to afford those ticket prices...Great review, thanks so much for sharing.

At 4/22/2014 09:38:00 AM, Blogger The Loner said...

The review expresses my feelings after several Neil Young shows, but of course I am not able to describe it the fantastic the way this writer does.Europe should be happy for the Horse this summer, but I sure would have loved to enjoy this show. Much in common with the first half of the shows in 2007/2008? That show in London March 8, 2008 was something...

At 4/22/2014 03:27:00 PM, Blogger Mark Toynbee said...

Wow this is good,I recall my mate and I agreeing the one and only concert in edinburgh was like ,being in church with god

At 4/22/2014 05:05:00 PM, Anonymous Terri said...

I was there both nights and I've been saying since I left, the two performances were the best solo performances I have ever seen. I don't know if it was the arena, the setlist, the planet alignment or what but Neil was even more magical than usual. Before leaving the concert I actually broke down! Unbelievable!

At 4/23/2014 01:04:00 PM, Blogger theloner said...

Nothing personal But
"I want to follow neil and old Black" Lol Very well whriten! I will follow Neil till the end..

At 4/24/2014 12:48:00 AM, Anonymous bucks burnett said...

Thanks everyone for your kind words! - Bucks

At 4/24/2014 09:36:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

And thank you again Bucks!

And speaking of Bill Bentley, here's an interview with Bentley on the music business:

At 4/24/2014 05:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Bill, so glad you get the groove,
When I slip into the Neil groove it

takes months to come back from some very strange but always earthly organic
laced with love peace and justice places. so spinal tap

At 4/24/2014 06:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry Bucks, I refferd to you as Bill, great review.

At 4/25/2014 12:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for these thoughts ... he's such a fantastic artist and human... wish we had many like him all over the planet- people who care for love, nature, everything! just like paco de lucia- neil young is so cool and sharp and wise! such a great artist!
lol to neil and all neil fans!!!

At 4/26/2014 12:49:00 PM, Anonymous JayDude in Texas said...

There I was feeling sad and sorry for myself for missing the Meyerson gig, due to several earthbound issues. Then I read Meester Bucks' transmission from "out there" and I myself was transported too.
Joy! Rapture! I feel the music.
Thanks, by way of Bucks, to one of my most favorite Stringmen.

At 7/23/2014 11:05:00 PM, Blogger EJ said...

I fell upon this review through some bizarre search engine alchemy on a totally unrelated query. Took me back to my own soul surrender Jan 9 at Carnegie Hall. Bucks, you really captured what it feels like to be captured. I, too, went ticketless on a wing and a prayer. Despite being broke as a skunk, I knew I'd regret it eternally if I didn't at least try. After forking over money I didn't have, I somehow I made it in to a seat right on time. He opened with From Hank to Hendrix. I've seen Neil a handful of times, but never on this song. It's not one that holds any special meaning or memory for me, so I can't account for what followed. From the opening chords, I felt tears brewing and then streaming. My vision was blurred for the entire first set. I was totally overcome. It was complete rapture. I think my heart burst. And maybe my tears were just my soul spilling out as the pied piper of Hank Williams' guitar called it home. Like you, I didn't feel like talking after. I walked home, nearly 50 blocks, in a sonic and spiritual stupor. I don't remember the cacophony of traffic. I don't remember the cold. I don't even remember how I got there. It was the best show of my life. I get it, Bucks. Thank you for putting it to words.


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