Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Neil Young @MSG, Dec. 15th

(I owe this blog a review of TVOTR from October -- eek! -- and of Fishbone from November, but I couldn't resist putting last night's amazing show up!)

Last night was my first time seeing the legend, Neil Young. I have always considered him to be one to cross off on my list of must-sees, but difficulty in scoring reasonably priced tickets to his prior shows had kept me from seeing him. When he announced two nights at MSG a few months ago with the added bonus of my beloved Wilco as an opener, I jumped at the opportunity, especially since they made the front GA/Pit section affordable (well, sort of).

Wawa and I got there early enough to be at the front of the Pit and to catch the first opener, a sleepy band called Everest. They had a solid, jammy sound -- reminded me a bit of the time I saw Sam Roberts -- and even pulled out the not-so-creepy-anymore Watson Twins as backup for a few songs. I could envision really enjoying them at a smaller venue like Bowery Ballroom.

Wilco came on and played a short set of nine songs -- about 50 minutes worth. They were tight and did a nice sampler platter of their music, giving the audience a bit of the old and the new, the alt-country, the jam and the blips and boops. Wawa was dismayed to hear "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" even though it is a great song because it is such a time-consumer, and they were working under time limits, but whatevs. I'm generally happy to see Wilco whenever I can. They are so fantastic live, and it was great to see them play a large venue like MSG. And Jeff Tweedy's awkward little dance during "Hummingbird" always makes me happy!

I had been looking at recent setlists from Neil Young's Fall tour and was surprised that he did not hit the stage until 10:10. Would New York be shafted by a curfew and get a shorter setlist? No way, man! Neil did not disappoint -- he played a full set of 25 songs for about 2 hours and 25 minutes. It was chock full of old songs I knew including my favorite "Cinnamon Girl" and "Heart of Gold" and a stunningly gorgeous "Needle and the Damage Done."

I was surprised by how hard this dude rocked! He did not pause for much banter and played every electrified hard song as though it were his last one of the evening. Even a stale song like "Rockin' in the Free World" felt fresh and new to me. I felt fortunate to be able to see him so close and hear ever word during a surprisingly good sound mix for the front. Unlike the times I've seen Bob Dylan, another old fogey, this rumpled mess of a man brought it. He closed out the evening with a nutso cover version of The Beatles' "A Day in the Life" which broke several of his guitar strings so bad, he ended up thrashing his guitar with the broken strings.

Man, that was insane! I really felt like I got my money's worth with this evening, and can't wait to repeat it all again tonight! =)

Here he is playing "Heart of Gold":


Anonymous said...

did you happen to catch who was on Neil's t shirt?

Qbertplaya said...

Yeah, it's Emiliano Zapata. Neil was wearing a t-shirt from some restaurant (Mi Tierra) in San Antonio. He had the same outfit on two nights in a row. I wonder if it was the same t-shirt, or if he has two....

Anonymous said...

how in tha ???would you know that!!

Qbertplaya said...

Pretty simple -- I googled the words on his t-shirt -- "Mi Tierra" -- and it was the first hit. The gift shop has similar t-shirts with the same font. I'm assuming Neil's is an older version.

Anonymous said...

I was there
It was soo awesome
I can hear some of my peeps wooping it up on some youtube clips
. what fun! Ive been seeing Neil every yr at least once for 20 yrs or more !