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Saturday, May 21, 2016

UPDATED: "Thrasher" Played @ Light Up The Blues 4th Annual Concert w/ Stephen Stills, Neil Young + Others

Neil Young performing "Thrasher" at the 4th Annual Light Up The Blues benefit concert for Autism Speaks at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, CA on Saturday, May 21, 2016. (thanks Sweet Joni in Malibu Heaven!)

UPDATE - SETLIST (via Sugar Mountain)

1. Heart Of Gold (acoustic guitar)
2. Thrasher (12 string acoustic guitar)
3. Out On The Weekend (acoustic guitar)
4. Human Highway (acoustic guitar; accompanied by Stephen Stills)
5. Mr. Soul (electric guitar; accompanied by Stephen Stills and members of The Rides)
6. For What It's Worth (Stills on lead vocals, Neil on electric guitar; accompanied by Stephen Stills and members of The Rides)
7. Rockin' In The Free World (electric guitar; accompanied by Stephen Stills and and other guests)

From an email we received from Tamara:
Hi Thrasher,

That set list from last night is correct! My husband and I attended. I’m going to send you photos my husband took because they are in an email and i don’t know how to post them from the way that he sent them to me (sorry!)

So here are my thoughts from last night’s concert:

Neil ’s set made the night, obviously.

My first thought when i heard the first chords to “Thrasher” in that setting was also “OMG!”

While Neil is only a year younger than Stephen, he seems half his age.

You never know what Neil is going to show up but it was a funny, chatty one. There was a lot of instrument wrangling between his songs and banter with the audience. After he finished “Thrasher” he said something about it being awhile since he’s played that one and thought he was going to forget the lines, to which he added “that could have a career ender!”

Autism Speaks is no doubt a worthy cause but in my opinion the evening was ridiculously disorganized. Much of it could have been prevented by having a simple program that gave some insight to the musical acts and the cause. It likely would have gone a long way to quiet rowdy people in the audience who might have had more patience with the labored timing between the short music sets, which was filled with the emcee Jack Black and various actors and comedians (Andy Dick, Cristina Applegate, Judd Apatow.)

Three autistic performers took the stage during the course of the evening. But it seemed a lot of impatient people around us (all waiting for NEIL) had no idea the kids performing were autistic so they were even more impatient and rude. One loud jackass a few rows behind us who kept screaming obscenities and “BRING OUT NEIL” was removed from the auditorium during the intermission, thankfully. The show was four hours long, with a 20 minute intermission. After the intermission there was an auction by the emcee and celebrities (two people paid $5k each for harmonicas used by Neil Young - a man in the balcony and Judd Apatow - big price to pay for a harmonica containing Neils DNA!) Then followed by a lengthy speech by the director of Autism Speaks. The crowd around us was restless (and did i mention rude?) All of this followed Stills and his wife kicking off the start of the night with a very long-winded thanking of all their sponsors, by name. Again, much of this could and should have been covered and explained in a program handed out to attendees (yes programs are expensive to print up, but i think they could find a sponsor willing to get their name on a program as well.)

Back to the music: War on Drugs, Jacob Dylan and the others had two-song sets. Stephen Stills and his band, the Rides, played 4 or 5 songs (interestingly - Stills did make a comment in passing at one point about ‘losing all my bandmates’ - when he was introducing his new collaborators.)

Perhaps most interesting to me was that while Stills was hosting, Neil was the man draw, closing act, and commanding presence. And he always brings it! Heart of Gold, Thrashers, Out on the Weekend were all acoustic. He was joined by Stephen and Chris Stills on Human Highway, and then went electric for Mr. Soul with Stills and the Rides. Stills sang on “For What It’s Worth” (again - the contrast between Neil’s vocals and Stephen’s - is remarkable). And everyone left in the building who had been on stage at one time or another came out for “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

Feel free to use any of this if you’d like on Thrasher’s Wheat! My name is Tamara

PS: Can you believe i just found your email in my junk folder asking about Neil’s LP listening party for EARTH. Geesh, i’m sorry as that was two weeks ago! I’ll respond separately to that but have to get out of the house right now for an appt. happy sunday!

Photos by Sister Terri! Thanks.

Last song of Neil Young set. "Rockin' in the Free World" from Light Up The Blues concert at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, CA, May 21, 2016. With Stephen Stills , Kenny Wayne Shepard and many more.

Encore photo by Tamara

Stephen Stills & Neil Young
Light Up The Blues 3rd Annual Concert (2015)
Photo by Jeff Allen
(Click photo to enlarge)

Tonight, Stephen Stills' 4th Annual Light Up The Blues concert to benefit autism will be held at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, California.

Neil Young, The Rides (featuring Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Barry Goldberg), Jakob Dylan, The War On Drugs, Nikka Costa, Chris Stills and emcee Jack Black, plus many special guests. An Evening of Music to Benefit Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. Hosted by Kristen and Stephen Stills, the event will also feature performances by three artists with autism: Nikki Nik, Soulshocka, and Kyle Cousins.

From a story last year in Los Angeles Times by Randy Lewis:
Additionally, Stills has said previously that he took a page from Young’s playbook in getting Light Up the Blues off the ground, motivated by his own 18-year-old son Henry’s Asperger's syndrome, an autism-spectrum disorder. He and his wife looked at the annual Bridge School benefit in Northern California that Young and his ex-wife Pegi Young have been staging for the last quarter-century as a model for how to execute a benefit show.

“The Bridge School event is probably the best one," Stills told The Times in 2013. "They took everything they learned from other people's benefits and perfected it. This stuff gets complicated when you're dealing with road managers and production managers. But once we decided to do it, people just kept showing up saying they wanted to be involved. That's when you know you've got a winner."

More last year's 2015 Light Up The Blues 3rd Annual Concert (photos, videos, reviews, etc.).

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At 5/22/2016 03:23:00 AM, Blogger RichieCruz said...

Setlists, according to Sugar Mountain....

Heart Of Gold
Out On The Weekend
Human Highway
Mr Soul
For What It's Worth
Rockin In The Free World

I wasn't there, just printing what I said Neil solo, so I'm not sure what was acoustic or electric... And it sounds like Stephen was with him, just not sure how many songs. I'm guessing from Human Highway onward.

Thrasher! Good to see it back after a year or two. Definitely an interesting choice with Stills right there. I can't imagine Stephen playing it with Neil, I'm sure we'll find out more.

At 5/22/2016 10:44:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

Well this is definitely worthy of a OMG?!

Thrasher?! Wonder what Stephen was thinking?

Word has it that a Youtube will be uploaded of Thrasher in near future. We'll be sure to post, naturally.

If anyone has any links, pics, etc, feel free to drop info here in comments or email us @
thrasher <@ sign>

At 5/22/2016 11:28:00 AM, Blogger DA Wood-G said...

Since CSN seem to hate each other again and have all gone their separate ways, I'd wager Stephen saw the humour in performing Thrasher last night. They've all gone down the road without that load this year!

At 5/22/2016 05:24:00 PM, Blogger Babbo B. said...

Latest Sugar Mountain setlist is correct, though need to add Chris Stills on mandolin for Human Highway (so no, Stephen didn't play on Thrasher, like some seem to think). Various videos of all the tunes are up now on YouTube.

At 5/22/2016 07:30:00 PM, Blogger Babbo B. said...

Videos linked here:

At 5/22/2016 10:14:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Just listened to Thrasher and Neil's voice is in fine form. Overall very impressive to hear, though nothing will quite match his Live-Rust era version. The recent versions are lacking just slightly in both guitar urgency and vocal phrasing, but still it's great to hear.

Those were good thoughts from Tamara. I was a little surprised that she said Neil "seems half the age" of Stills. Clearly she's talking about his sound, and maybe his agility. Visually, Neil looks significantly older to me...

Also, not sure if anyone's noticed, but Neil has another TV appearance coming up this Thursday night on the CBS talk show Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

"How I lost my friends, I still don't understand"

At 5/23/2016 05:55:00 AM, Blogger s Prez said...

Great video, Neil joking between the songs, Love it :-)

At 5/23/2016 12:34:00 PM, Blogger Old Neg said...

What was that blocking Neil's teleprompter during Thrasher that he flings off half way through the song? Nice recovery but it was close!

At 5/23/2016 02:34:00 PM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

That (Thrasher) is the best Neil Young performance in over a year. Whatever my reservations about POTR, he remains a world-class solo performer. A tour of performances like this would sell out in minutes.

Neil: ditch the teleprompter and the hat. You've had a bald spot for 20 years or more: nobody cares (you are Neil YOUNG!), and part of the visual fun of a Neil Young show has always been seeing your hair fly around in the wind. And Bob Dylan doesn't use a telepromper, and therefore stumbles on the words every now and then. Again, nobody cares. Better than relying on a computer screen.

As any neurologist will tell you, one of the best ways to stop mental decay in old age is to stretch your mind as much as possible. So take the extra effort re-learn the lyrics, even if that means forgetting one line in Thrasher.


At 5/23/2016 03:48:00 PM, Blogger growl said...

Let's hope Neil adds Thrasher to the European setlist. If anyone needs some good tickets for the London show I have 2 spare seats on lower tier at face value. I will probably have 1 or 2 spare standing tickets also.

At 5/23/2016 04:29:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Hey Scots, did you see or hear much from Neil's solo 2014 acoustic tour? It was great and unexpected, but I still remember a lot of whining here and elsewhere over it. As has often been said, it's tough to please everyone (especially when we try to)..

Agree with you about the hat--it tends to "bother" me. It makes him look like he's playing on the street corner as a hobby. Somehow it lessens the seriousness of his performance. Conventional wisdom says it's for his vanity, but I'm not sure about that. I think (and hope) it's just another temporary Neil stylistic crutch. He tends to lock into certain clothes and accessories from tour to tour.

I respect your technical ear, so, is he playing the guitar "slower" than usual? To me it seems a little quieter and a little more deliberate. I prefer the song when it has a little more "quickness" to it, but still loved it overall.

Take my advice
don't listen to me

At 5/23/2016 04:48:00 PM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

To Growl by all accounts there's plenty of seats available for London O2 (which is a dreadful venue), Neil can't fill the O2 anymore even Springsteen is struggling to sell his shows perhaps this is a sign of mega gig fatigue. I'm off to see Nash this week in Guildford a much smaller venue so Graham will be able to bore the pants off us with his wild tales from LA.

At 5/23/2016 05:12:00 PM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

Topanga: I heard tapes of the Hollywood shows from April 2014, and loved them.

You are right that he is performing Thrasher a little differently. It's the same basic arrangement, I think, but emotionally it's been "rebalanced", affecting the pacing and delivery. It feels more romantic, more dramatic, and most notably to me, more humble.

When Neil sings "when the Thrashers come I'll be stuck in the sun/I'll know the time has come to give what's mine" in the 1978 versions, he's looking off into the distance, his whole life ahead of him. Whereas the 2014-2016 versions are being sung by a much older man acutely aware that judgement day is fast approaching. I like it both ways, too. And I wouldn't be surprised if it gets an outing at the "mega-concert" in October.


PS I think Neil clearly looks better without the hat, but he plays better without it, too. Perhaps it's a psychological thing, but either way, I hope he gets rid of it. I think he's unnecessarily self conscious about looking older; he's still got a good head of hair to show off. From the audience's perspective, it's just visually more fun seeing his hair fly in the wind, Hurricane 1976 style. It's a traditional thing, like the over-sized amps and the wooden Indians. Bottom line: the hat and teleprompter are objects to hide behind, and Neil Young has never been one for hiding.

At 5/23/2016 06:08:00 PM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

Incidentally, I came across this quote by Willie B Hinds:

"Danny Whitten was one of those guys who played less, and you can hear it on Everybody Knows...It's the notes he didn't play that were important".

Of course, this isn't just about Danny. It's actually a law of nature that applies to every other great musician who has ever played with Neil Young. From Steve Stills to Poncho Sampedro to Anthony Crawford to Steve Lawrence. A simple fact: a musical genius needs some space to breathe.

Meanwhile, this version of Thrasher revels in revealing the truth in David Briggs' advice that Neil should "put as much of himself in the song as possible, as nobody gives a shit about anything else" .


At 5/23/2016 09:31:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

@Old Neg - That was Neil's harmonica he tossed.

At 5/23/2016 10:05:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

Just finished listing to Thrasher. My first impression is that Neil seemed distracted throughout the song. Perhaps the lyrics are carrying more weight now than when he was younger. The song is about loss, choices, and moving forward while leaving things and people behind. Neil has experienced much loss in recent years and continues to move forward, but all of this takes it's toll. Particularly when time is ticking. Maybe it's just me, but it just felt like his mind was somewhere else.

That being said, I'm really glad he pulled it out of retirement and sang it. One of my all time favorite Neil songs.

At 5/24/2016 02:42:00 AM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

Dan: I think Neil was really getting into the song. The only problem is, he keeps needing to walk over and read the lyrics off the teleprompter. It disrupts the fluency of the performance and makes it unnecessarily self-conscious. And I can guarantee it's frustrating from his point of view, as well.

I know Thrasher has a lot of words to remember. But the teleprompter has become something Neil habitually looks down at throughout a performance. My guess is even if he was singing T-Bone he'd still be tempted to gaze down at the thing. He doesn't need it; he just thinks he does. At the very least, he should have a foot-switch on stage that only switches the screen on when he forgets the words. But personally, I'd get rid of it completely. It's an unhealthy addition to the show.

It's become a crutch. He doesn't need to remember the lyrics anymore, the computer does it for him. Just like he doesn't need to play a coherent guitar solo anymore, 'cause Lukas will just fill in the gaps for him. But preserving good mental health in later years is all about using your brain more; not relying on a computer to do it for you. The brain is like a muscle that needs to be stretched to stay healthy.

I'm sure for a few shows he'd make the occasional mistake, without it. But it wouldn't take long to get his old confidence back.


At 5/24/2016 05:39:00 AM, Blogger growl said...

Level 1 is sold out. Only crappy seats left. The O2 is fine if you are in the right place but as you say there are a lot of bad seats.

At 5/24/2016 07:10:00 AM, Blogger growl said...

This comment has been removed by the author.


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