Thursday, December 13, 2007
NEIL YOUNG NIGHT 1: HALF A SHOW IS STILL AWESOME
For those who haven't read about it, Neil Young's first of six nights at the United Palace in Washington Heights, NY (right by the George Washington Bridge) was last night, and although the ticket said 8:00, they didn't open the doors until 9:30, because "someone" called the fire department to report some kind of safety issue, and they took quite a while to determine that the venue was safe. Who could that someone have been? I don't know - but the timing sure was odd. I'm guessing someone must have pissed off someone at a union or something.
Without going into the details, the show ended up starting at about 10, I think. Pegi Young, Neil's wife, was supposed to open, but she rightfully didn't perform, so Neil could get started. His first set was solo acoustic - he played guitar, but also some banjo and piano as well. He opened, as he has every show on the tour, with the classic "From Hank To Hendrix" from Harvest Moon, one of his best albums, and that was followed by "Ambulance Blues," from On The Beach, one of his most underrated. The rest of the set featured lots of songs from Harvest, including "A Man Needs A Maid," "Old Man," "Harvest" (one of my favorites, and one I'd never seen him perform before) and of course, "Heart Of Gold"; then there were some really obscure songs like "Love Art Blues" and "No One Seems To Know." Despite all the Harvest tunes, it wasn't a "greatest hits" deal at all. Lots of people were yelling out requests - Neil has never been one to play songs by request - but he dealt with them with his combination of wit and crankiness. The set was unbelievable, but I was surprised that he didn't play any new songs in the set.
I only got to see four songs from the electric set: since the show started so late, I needed to catch my bus. His band, featured Ben Keith, a multi-instrumentalist who plays on most of Neil's non-Crazy Horse stuff (and has played on some Crazy Horse records too), Crazy Horse drummer Ralph Molina and bassist Rick Rosas, who played with Neil in the late '80s and has worked on Neil's last few albums. They were rocking: I saw "The Loner," "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" and two new songs, "Dirty Old Man" and "Spirit Road."
Luckily, I have a ticket for one of Neil's shows next week, so I'll be able to review the electric set after I see the whole thing. This time I'm driving in, so I can stay till the last note.