Neil Young’s show was a breath of fresh air. Performing his new
record Greendale in its entirety followed by a short set of Young
and Crazy Horse classics, the three-hour concert showcased both the
thoughtful creativity and the raw power for which Young has become
a rock legend.

Kate Green
Courtesy of Reprise Records
My fingers smell delicious.

The live performance of Greendale is often as much musical
theater as it is a rock show, a bizarre multimedia presentation of
an even stranger story about a fictional California town and the
three generations of the hippy-dippy Green family that live there
caught in changing times.

Actors pantomiming as Young sang, the production used a video
screen and a moving platform to turn what was strikingly similar to
a high school play into something far more substantial.

Greendale’s plot is confusing and it easily could have been over
the audience’s head. However, thanks to the intimacy of the arena,
and Young’s delivery, following along was as easy and satisfying as
pie. Singing a line or two followed by a moment of warm guitar,
Young leaves room for us to reflect on every line, giving them more
poignancy and depth.

Musically, the Greendale songs managed to hit hard while
maintaining the ambling quality of the studio album. Although the
triumphant finale “Be the Rain” was certainly a highlight with over
40 people on the stage, the peak of the Greendale set was the
contemplative “Bandit” which Young performed solo and acoustic. Its
incredibly resonant bass line below, Young’s falsetto soared as he
sang the perfect chorus: “Someday, you’ll find everything you’re
looking for.”

For many older fans the almost two-hour Greendale set only made
the final hour of older Young tunes seem more exciting. The short
set proved without question that these guys spawned grunge. Busting
out with “Hey Hey, My My” followed by “Rockin’ in the Free World,”
Young and Crazy Horse screamed through their hits with angular
guitar solos and three-minute feedback-laced rave-ups at the end of
each tune.

Young remains a grizzly stomping maniac at age 57, delivering
the kind of badass attitude one looks for in a rocker. Sometimes
alone jamming out at the far end of the stage, sometimes huddled
right next to his band mates Billy Talbot and Pancho Sanpedro,
Young would return to the mic to deliver his characteristically
nasal vocals in timeless songs like “Powderfinger” and “Like a
Hurricane” (“I’m tryin’ to love ya, but I’m getting blown
away”).

The Greendale portion of Neil Young’s concert on Wednesday night
was a joyous reminder of what can be accomplished by pushing the
creative boundaries of the rock genre. On the heels of this new
work came a thunderous reminder of rock and roll’s roots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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