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Saturday, July 29, 2023

Live Concert Review: Neil Young @ White River Amphitheatre (Auburn, Washington) — 7/20/23

Neil Young  
@ White River Amphitheatre, Auburn, WA - July 20, 2023 
Photo by Alan in Seattle  
  (Click photo to enlarge)


An in depth concert review on Live Review: Neil Young @ White River Amphitheatre (Auburn, Washington) — 7/20/23 by Mark Caicedo:


Opener Chris Pierce turned in a well-received folk/gospel/bluesy 35-minute opening set featuring songs that were, essentially calls to action for various causes: fighting racism, preserving human dignity, and caring for the planet. 

After a short pause to rearrange the stage, the house lights dimmed (although the sinking summer sun still illuminated the sky behind us), and Neil wandered out from the shadows, strolling onto a stage that looked like it could have been his living room. Surrounded by a “glowing” fireplace, a repurposed weather vane displaying a Mazzeo painting, and various candles and houseplants, he picked up his 12-string guitar and strummed the opening chords to “I’m the Ocean” the 7-minute epic from Mirror Ball, his 1995 collaboration with Pearl Jam.

An expansive song, I was struck by a lyric that seems to acknowledge Young’s role as an artistic bridge between his past and the future:

“People my age, they don’t do the things I do.
They go somewhere, while I run away with you”

As he sang, I thought of Walt Whitman’s, Song of Myself: “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes).” Just as Whitman’s work celebrates both the unique and universal, so too does Neil Young. A song about aging, friendship, tragedy, and technology, “I’m the Ocean” was a perfect opener for the show (as it has on every date of the Coastal Tour), its lyrics examining the depth and breadth of the human condition with all its contradictions, foibles, and imperfections:

“Trying to turn against the flow,
I’m the ocean, I’m the giant undertow”


Perhaps Neil’s most profound influence, and the reason he became a singer-songwriter, came from Ian and Sylvia Tyson’s “Four Strong Winds.” He said in his 2014 book, Super Deluxe, that as a teen, “there was a little place with a jukebox, and I would play “Four Strong Winds” by Ian & Sylvia, over and over, learning all the words and singing along. I loved that song. I had the feeling that it was about my life, and the music touched me deeply.” Neil closed the show with “Four Strong Winds” and a promise.

“I’ll look for you if I’m ever back this way”

Neil’s love of tradition and all things analog was evident in the way he’s surrounded himself with vintage musical instruments, saving them from obscurity or, worse, the landfill. His music itself is a bridge between artists who preceded him, people like Bert Jansch, Carl Perkins, and the King himself (Elvis Presley) to a younger generation of musicians who cite Young as a mentor and influence. In fact, Neil Young Archives, the website that houses and streams (among other features) thousands of hours of music and video to members aims to extend Young’s legacy well into the future.

He may prefer analog but Neil’s no technologyphobe, as demonstrated by his sprawling website, NYA, that ensures his music is disseminated in the highest quality possible. What I wrote about Neil back in 2019 still mostly holds true:
“[He] is a musician driven by his craft, an artist with a seemingly bottomless well of creativity, and a man with an unquenchable desire to connect through music. His uncanny ability to see around the corner, to recognize where society and music are headed has prompted him to collaborate with bands as diverse as Bruce Springsteen, Devo, and Pearl Jam. Today, Neil tours and records with Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real as he embraces a new generation of rockers, continuing to bolster his legacy and reach new audiences.”
[ed - emphasis added]

Soon after he walked offstage to a thunderous standing ovation, he returned to play “Homegrown,” another happy, light-hearted little ditty about getting high that’s become a protest song against factory farming. This night, it was another massive sing-a-long or, as Neil put it, “a hootenanny” and left us with the hopeful feeling that guy will be singing for a long time still to come.

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At 7/30/2023 11:04:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

This was a fantastic show marred by sporadic local outbreaks of drunk idiots making noise. But most reports I have heard are that the audience was mostly well behaved. I witnessed some loud talk and did tell a few folks to shut up. I got a bit carried away myself and left my already good seat and crawled thru a barrier fence to the best seating up front. I proceeded to hang out in various close rows. What I saw and heard:

As expected, I’m The Ocean was tremendously moving, and what a pretty sound Neil gets on that 12 string guitar! Home fires was perfect, another favorite of mine ( I have a lot of favorites!). Neil played Old Black for “When I Hold You In My Arms” while sitting on the side of a piano bench & sling the guitar while playing the piano parts! It was very bluesy and a spectacular success. He is a one man band when he wants to be.

His playing on Ohio on the white falcon guitar sizzled as ever, and he spoke well of Crosby “his old buddy” singing so well on that one. 2 themes: Love & Earth. Song after song was played well, sung well. If you compare him to 1972 or 1989, you might notice he is no longer in his 20’s, or early 40’s. However, the Old Man is still Rockin’ in the “Free” World!

Birds was a beautiful rendition. I loved all the songs he performed. I had a huge smile across my face for a lot of the show. When he did Love Warth, the crowd sang loud. He played the most songs of tour that night, and a double encore of Homegrown!

Thank you Neil Young for a fantastic show in Auburn! I am looking forward to seeing it and hearing it again, hopefully soon, on NYA!

Your brother Alan in Seattle

At 7/31/2023 12:07:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Here is a video link to show opener at White River. In “I’m The Ocean” he changes the lyrics from “I got her love…” to “I got your Love, you’ve got my love too.” What a cool way to tell the fans he loves them right back.

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 7/31/2023 12:24:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Listening and watching this 33 minute video of selected songs from white river.

My Heart, Prime of Life, it all sounds pretty good to me. Some reviewers have their own perceptions but it’s all illusion any way.

Watch it and see / hear for yourself:

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 7/31/2023 09:40:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

many thanks here YBAiS. We always appreciate you neil enthusiasm here @ TW.

again, appreciate all the photos, vids, stories you've shared. you brought the experience to so many who couldn't make the Coastal leg.


At 7/31/2023 11:29:00 PM, Blogger tomatron said...

Homegrown sounds like a great cap to the night. Very cool. Have we heard word yet on the final two shows of the tour, Napa and Lake Tahoe?

New things: Born To Run 1990 was not a song of the day but is up nonetheless, with ORS #5 now in stores. Chrome Dreams vinyl hit shelves next Friday, with a very exclusive price tag of $50.

In other upcoming release news, I accidentally stumbled upon some tracks that seem lined up to drop on NYA, songs that came up with a random keyhole search. “Bad Example” has a file card but no file yet. That might’ve been there in the Americana cabinet for a while. But there are more in the pipeline. All the individual songs from the 12/11/89 show are set to land on the site. The full show is already a concert timeline. Individual songs labeled 1/1/2000 are also visible search results, looking to comprise a full show by the Buffalo Springfield.

At 7/31/2023 11:54:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Thank you Thrasher! I humbly share my joyful experience! I am a lucky dog! I got off my leash at the White River show & had excellent seating after slipping thru a human stopping fence barricade. I scraped my shin on the way thru but it’s healing. I have a treasure, trunks of memories to take with me.

Thrasher, Thank you so much for doing this blog, as you do! It’s magical for most of us! It just appears! You are the hero of this whole thing, other than Neil and the bands, road eyes & all. I appreciate the mutual Neil Young appreciation / interest. We Neil Young fans are in a special category: We like the stuff that a lot of folks have not heard. It has been so worth it to be on this ride with the NY soundtrack! He made a lot of money but we got the better deal.

I confess, I had not listened to NYA 2 enough! Last night I popped in a few discs. OMG! Real good stuff, not familiar enough!

I hope you all have a great rest of your summer. I have a few days off and am chillin w appropriate soundtrack!

Your brother Alan in Seattle

At 8/01/2023 10:53:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Tomatron - thanks for updates.

yes, we're a bit behnind on the neil news these days. With recent focus on concert tour, these sorts of items get skipped.

we just posted on Roxy anniversary concert, so a bit of catching up.

Presumably, Roxy will be the warm up for Farm Aid.

@ YBAiS - yes, happy August. indeed, have a great summer as well and we'll catch up soon!


At 8/03/2023 08:33:00 AM, Blogger tomatron said...

Although I don’t feel compelled to pick up the vinyl (the white LP already in my collection sounds fine) , I’m really enjoying the new release of Ragged Glory. The track order of the outtakes forms a nice little supplemental EP. Most of those are actually from after the album sessions ended up being finished, except for DSTH. There’s a different vibe there that seems to point towards some of the more experimental production of Sleeps With Angels. Another great thing about consuming this analog beauty digitally is that the album is fully hi-res now, nice n crunchy. I guess everyone’s heard the b-sides before, including the 12 minute Born To Run, but they’re new to me!


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