Thursday, October 25, 2007

Neil Young - Portland Review

As we waited for Neil Young to hit the stage, we see an artist painting towards the rear of the stage. The stage is adorned with old style movable stage lights. Random industrial fan, and various other atmospheric detail.

Just before Neil comes out, the guitar tech starts bringing out acoustic guitars. One after another, I think I counted 8(including a banjo). They all surround a chair behind a table lined with harmonicas. The circle of guitars is flanked by a grand piano to the right, distressed by a clever paint job, and finished with a disco ball underneath. To the left stands an upright piano.

The artist painting at the back of the stage brings one of his large canvases to the front right of the stage placing it on an easel. It is a painting of a large "N".

Neil strolls out nonchalantly and the crowd roars and immediately jumps to their feet. After a long standing ovation Neil is settled with a Martin and harmonica around his neck. He jumps into "From Hank to Hendrix", and the magic begins.

Hearing him strum this guitar and play harmonica better than anyone I have ever heard floored me. The sound system was absolutely the best I have ever heard. It really sounded like Neil was sitting in my living room strumming an acoustic guitar and singing un-mic'd.

His voice sounds perfect. I was ready to hear an old man with a wavering voice from all his years singing. No. It sounded like a studio take. Neil played some classics and some new from his new album. Heart of Gold was played. He then stands up and starts for the grand piano pausing, then turns to the upright piano, then pauses, the crowd is completley silent, we ALL hear him say, "decisions, decisions...". He then moves for the grand piano and launched into "After the Gold Rush" (one of my faves). This is the first time he has played this on the tour.

If that hour wasn't enough to make the tickets worth every penny, we break for intermission.

Second set we find him and his band coming out. Drums, Bass, and a guitar/lapsteel/keyboard player. They come out slamming like a crazy horse show. I never wrapped my head around how this man of this age, after his medical conditions could rock this hard. I thought I knew his electric guitar style as just sloppy and loose. NO. It was loose, but perfect. Some songs jammed out to the 15min mark. Never boring. I also expected his guitar playing to be sort of background to the band as most singer/songwriters will do. NO. His guitar was the loudest instrument in the mix, and it wailed. And this man moved around more on stage then Thurston Moore on a good night.

The artist brings out a new painting between each song with the song title, and an impressionistic painting relating to each song.

Cinnamon Girl was played. I had read about the other shows, and was prepared for the night closing with "Tonights the Night", not tonight. They busted out "Like a Hurricane", as the closer; what a treat.

I can't even pretend to do this night justice with my recounting. How do you describe a moment when you get to see a legend, doing what he does?

If you are a fan of Neil Young's music at any level, you must see him when he comes to town.

This type of an artist is a dying breed.

If you are interested, you can see some photos from the show, and more reviews by clicking here.


Blogger KBAB said...

Wow, sounds like that was awesome. Very lucky.

1/18/2008 3:19 PM  

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