Sunday, December 21, 2008

Song of the Week 12/19/08

Neil Young - "Powderfinger"

Eight years. Yes, it had been eight freaking years since I had seen Neil Young play an entire show (I did catch his Farm Aid set at New York's Randall's Island in 2007) without the baggage of CSN on stage. It's not that I haven't had the chance to do so. I boycotted the 2003-4 Greendale tour with Crazy Horse as there was no way I was spending money to watch him perform his worst album ever. And the ticket prices for last year's theater tour behind Chrome Dreams II were just too pricey. This time the temptation to go to Madison Square Garden was even greater with the bonus of Wilco as the opening act. I hemmed and hawed about going until my dearest friend April (who was tired of the hemming, hawing and complaining) finally said, "I can buy tickets for you as a birthday present." Since she had never seen Young, I felt okay letting her buy seats that were really expensive. Wilco did a great opening set, with Jeff Tweedy bringing out his son Spencer to play drums on "The Late Greats." It was the younger Tweedy's birthday, which certainly made that appearance the best birthday present ever. Then Young came out with his Electric Band (made up of a cast of characters from throughout his career) and cranked out a decent version of the Ragged Glory gem "Love and Only Love." As Young continued playing the hits I've seen many times before ("Hey Hey, My My," "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere") I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. I kept thinking "Crazy Horse did these songs better, I wish Crazy Horse was here." And then these opening lines rang out: "Look out mama, there's a white boat coming up a river." Instantly my doubts went away. I mean, I was seeing Neil freaking Young! Dude, this is fucking "Powderfinger!" This is awesome! The rest of the show was fantastic. It clocked in at over 2 and a half hours, which is the longest Neil show I've ever seen. And to prove that he's got some life in him yet, he mixed in nine new tunes. Alas most of them were subpar, yet it was great seeing an artist I respect taking a chance in "the World's Greatest Arena" by performing what basically was an entire unreleased album. It reminded me of the Neil shows I saw in the late '80s and early '90s where he would play songs that would end up on his next album. And considering the nostalgia trip I've been on during this trying year, that was alright with me.

Here's a nice chunk of "Powderfinger" from MSG on 12/16:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw the Philly show and I have to disagree. I would MUCH rather see Neil do these songs with this band than Crazy Horse. I saw Crazy Horse on the Greendale tour; they were tired, very tired. The hour of greatest hits they did to close the show was awful; tempos like molasses, no excitement, no lift-off. I am glad Neil has retired them for the time being. I could have done without some of the greatest hits (“Old Man” and “Heart of Gold” and “Needle…” is a bit too much) and none of the new songs were particularly memorable (and the lyrics were…um, ‘simplistic’ would be a polite way to describe them), but I thought this band really brought some old warhorses to life (fiery versions of “Cowgirl”, “Powderfinger”, “Rockin’ in the Free World”, “Cortez”, etc.)