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[ATTENDED: October 8, 2014] An Evening with Neil Young

2014-10-08 22.40.54 Sarah has wanted to see Neil Young for decades.  However, we’ve had bad luck (or high prices) with tickets so we never went.  But when I saw that he was performing in Philly for not too too expensive, it was time to get Sarah to see her man.

I myself have enjoyed Neil Young for a while too, so this wasn’t like a sacrifice or anything.  I had just never gotten around to seeing him either.  Over the years he has played with some amazing other bands (not to mention Crazy Horse), like Sonic Youth and Pearl Jam–two tours that I should have gone to but didn’t.  But this night was all about Neil.  It was just him and his guitar and his guitar and his guitar and his guitar and his guitar and his guitar and his guitar and his banjo and his piano and his piano and his organ and a bunch of harmonicas.  (He had about 8 guitars on stage and he played every one of them).

I don’t usually check setlist before shows because I like to be surprised, but with Neil, ever the curmudgeon, you never really know what you’ll get–perhaps he’ll do an all Trans night.  So I scanned a set, saw a few hits and felt secure in letting him give us whatever he wanted.

2014-10-08 19.42.37-1Outside the theater–the Academy of Music, to which I had never been–there was a big silver bus (not an Econoline van) with the license plate ZUMA, and we knew we were in the right place.  Then we entered the old building and went up the less than impressive stairs (it looked like a middle school stairwell).  And we proceeded to go up and up and up and up to our seats.  We were about ten rows from the top of this building.  And the theater was breathtaking (especially since we were out of breath from climbing 8 flights of stairs).

But it 2014-10-08 19.52.35was stunning to be eye to eye with a chandelier.  However, the building is not deep, so we weren’t that far from the stage.  Of course, mostly we saw the top of Neil’s head (and the top of his piano–which was cool).

Before the lights dimmed we got the great announcement to “please refrain from shouting out song titles,” which I loved–if only the latecomers had heard that message as well.

And then, lights went out, flashlights appeared and Neil shuffled on stage–in jeans, a T-shirt, a flannel type shirt over it–and sat down in the middle of the stage.  He picked up one of the guitars (he already had his harmonica clipped on) and busted out “From Hank to Hendrix.”

Okay, so I’ve been listening to Neil for a long time–I’ve gotten nearly all of his records, I’ve heard a bunch of live things, saw him recently on Jimmy Kimmel–nevertheless I was absolutely blown away by how good his voice sounded.  It was clear and strong and nothing like the 68 year old guy shuffling around on stage should be able to possess.  And his guitar playing sounded crisp and clean, his harmonica was spot on–it was so perfect sounding.  Perhaps it was the venue, but it was the purest sounding concert I may have ever heard.

When he finished the song, Sarah, overcome said, “Okay we can go now.”  That’s how good it was.  [You can read her review here].  But of course we didn’t go.  We sat, rapt as he picked guitars to play, “This one was a gift from Stephen Stills.” [Audience guy: How is he?] “He’s good.”  And on that guitar he played a Buffalo Springfield song.  Then he played “Only Love Can Break Your Heart.”  At this point I stopped trying to keep track of the guitars he played. (more…)

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