Wednesday, December 19, 2007


After cutting out of a Neil Young concert midway through the show last week, at last night’s show I was determined to not miss a minute of last night’s show. I even showed up early enough to catch the opening act: Pegi Young, Neil’s wife.

Pegi used Anthony Crawford – a musician who was part of Neil’s ‘80s rockabilly band The Shocking Pinks, and who worked with Neil on and off over the years – as her acoustic guitarist (she played acoustic as well). The rest of her musicians, bassist Rick Rosas and steel guitarist Ben Keith are from Neil’s band. I liked her set – it went on a bit long, and it was a long night, but I was definitely enjoying most of it.

Neil’s solo set was much like last week’s, with a few notable differences. He played a beautiful version of one of his greatest songs, “After The Goldrush.” I’ve seen him do the song a lot over the years, but since ’92 or so, he usually plays it on his pipe organ, which is a cool. But last night, he kicked it old-school, playing it on piano. It was amazing. He also did “Cowgirl In The Sand,” which would have been great with the band – but regardless, it was just as haunting just on acoustic guitar. It’s one of my favorite Neil songs, and one he rarely performs. Finally, he closed the first set with the opening song from Harvest – “Out On The Weekend.” He mentioned that “Someone asked me to play this the other night. He’s probably not here now, but here it is.” I’d never seen him perform that, so it was really cool that he did it. He left “Heart Of Gold” off of the setlist, which was fine with me.

The electric set kicked off with his Buffalo Springfield classic, “Mr. Soul”: for my money, one of his most enduring songs. That was worth the price of admission right there. But the whole set was great. I thought the band, who were occasionally joined by Pegi on backing vocals and vibes, and Anthony Crawford on piano and backing vocals – really jelled well.
When I first heard who was in his touring band, I wasn’t sure how it would work, as it combined guys from different segments of his careers. But it was perfect. Crazy Horse drummer Ralph Molina sure doesn’t play like he’s 50-something (or 60-something). He's a really powerful drummer. (Although ditto for Neil, he plays guitar with more fury than most younger players: they just don’t have his fire, his focus. ) And Ben Keith: it was really cool to watch him switch from dobro to steel guitar to electric guitar to organ. He really filled out the sound of every song. It was an incredible show: I liked the way the new songs help up, especially “Spirit Road” and “No Hidden Path.”

I read that Jonathan Demme has been shooting some of the shows: hopefully the result of this shooting will be something that comes out, and not one of Neil’s (many) shelved projects. Demme did a great job on Neil’s Heart Of Gold film.
For now, I’m looking forward to Neil’s two upcoming docs: one of the 2006 Crosby Stills Nash & Young tour, and the other about him re-fitting a gas guzzling ‘50s car with clean air technology.

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