Errols Weekly Music Update.

December 16, 2008

Concert Review: Neil Young at Madison Square Garden on 12/15/2008

Concert Review: Neil Young at Madison Square Garden on Monday December 15, 2008.

Have you ever encountered a moment in your life where you become conscious that you are standing in someone else’s shoes? At that single moment, you grasp the feelings of that person which you never thought would happen. Well folks I have to be completely honest here and after last night’s Neil Young performance at Madison Square Garden, I have to say now that I understand the NY Times review of the AC/DC show. If you have been following along, I found it so strange that someone who went to the AC/DC show could find it not as great as I did. Now I am not going to sit here and write that Mr. Young’s performance was not good. To the contrary, the man has so much talent and music within him that I will state that the show was very enjoyable. The man is a legend and his band was tighter than a high wire. All I’m telling you is that I had a different perspective- which is- I am someone who respects and acknowledges Neil Young but admittedly am not the total freak of a fan that I am say for AC/DC or Tesla or Van Halen. Do you get the picture?

First off I have to thank my good friend Andy for inviting me to the show. Admittedly again, I would not have purchased tickets to the show myself but was intrigued on seeing a legend. Andy and his friends were actually more pumped to see Wilco. This is a band that I was not too familiar with as well, so I was definitely out of my element but more than willing to take it all in. Taking our seats for Wilco (sorry we missed Everest), the stage had a warm feel to it as the carpet on the stage floor made it seem like they were playing inside a cabin, so even though they were playing at the grandeur stage of Madison Square Garden, they made the setting very intimate. I did not know what to expect from Wilco but after their set I have to say I was pretty impressed. When they played their first song “Via Chicago” I was thinking that this is a cool mellow type of song and then about two minutes into it, two out of the six member band kept playing the same mellow chords and the other four members were playing something totally different. Just picture someone walking down a road and unknowingly behind them is a swirling tornado. It was something that I had never heard before and was pretty blown away and even though they sounded like they were worlds apart, it worked. The highlights for me were “You are My Face”, “Walken” and “I’m the Man Who Loves You.” Musically, this band was also very tight. You really can’t put a finger on what type of music they play- if I had to pick something I would say “alternative country”- if there is such a genre. They can rock out, go mellow, play folksy tunes and also jam with the best of them. All in all, a good set.

Mr. Young took the stage after 10:00 p.m. and opened with “Love and Only Love” – a tune that I was unfamiliar with. The stage looked actually looked like Neil and his band were playing on a New York City street as there was a light hovering over them, it reminded me of the street lamps on every city block. There were amplifiers, wires, folding chairs, music stands and a huge fan that was moving in slow motion which gave the setting a feel of a NY summer “block party.” Neil was wearing his jeans, sneakers, a tee shirt covered with a sport coat. The bass guitarist reminded me of Ace Frehley or Mick Mars for some reason and Neil’s long time guitarist, Ben Keith, had a lot of grey but it was only his hair color as he shredded all night long. The drummer appeared to be the youngest and I wonder if he was even born yet when Mr. Young began his musical journey. The second tune- “Hey Hey My My (Into the Black)”- was exactly like the live version you hear on classic rock radio. I love it when Neil just awkwardly bounces up & down, side to side as if an electric current was streaming through his veins. He did a nice job on the guitar solo. Neil’s game plan seemed to sprinkle in the old trusty classics after a few newer songs. When I heard “Powderfinger” it took me back to the late 1970’s and early 1980’s as the New York classic rock station at the time, WNEW-FM, would play this song endlessly. When the opening chords to “Cinnamon Girl” hit the crowd it seemed to energize them. To be quite honest, I was looking for that energy from the crowd the whole night and it did appear but only in spurts and seemed to coincide with his classics. After that song, he slowed things down with an acoustic set. And for the first time in my life I saw someone play the organ and harmonica at the same time. Normally I’m use to seeing the guitar and harmonica at the same time. The song-“Mother Earth”- was performed just by Neil himself and was one of the highlights of the show. The middle of the show featured many songs that I did not know and it wasn’t until “Heart of Gold” that the crowd picked up its enthusiasm (as far as I could tell). Again if you are a true fan of his, you love the show and I will not criticize. But for someone like me, the show at times had its real slow and quiet points. My favorite Neil Young song, “Old Man”, was performed to perfection and the crowd sung the song loud and clear for Neil to hear. As the clock almost struck midnight, I had to get my car out of the parking lot and had to scoot out of there before hearing one of my other favorites “Keep On Rocking in the Free World.” All in all, this was a solid performance from Neil and his band. I know I’m usually filled with more passion but don’t take this as something I did not like. For me, this was a much slower and less frantic pace than I am normally accustomed to. It was a good experience for me and I look forward to attending more shows that will open the doors to a whole new musical experience. And isn’t that what it’s all about?


1 Comment »

  1. After seeing Neil about 8 times throughout my life I have come to accept that Neil does what Neil wants, even if the fans could have put together a better set list. I saw Neil last year about this time at the United Palace Theater. That show was a knockout. So with him coming back this way I had to go again. The show Monday night was a little boring at times and as a greedy New Yorker I wanted more energy all the time. With that said, the man still puts on a great show.

    Comment by Mike — December 17, 2008 @ 12:19 pm

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