Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Different Voice

I finally mentioned my blog to my husband a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't worried about him seeing anything I wrote. But we live so closely in each other's pockets, sometimes it is nice to do something without the other knowing. This never lasts too long. We are both compelled to periodically spill our guts.

When I finally told him about Liar, I got the reaction I expected. "That's nice babe, have you seen my ipod/car keys/glasses/ball cap/laptop/earbuds/cellphone?" I suspected he read a few posts, just to make sure I didn't embarrass him too badly and once reassured, he promptly forgot about it.

So I was surprised when he told me he'd written about the Neil Young concert he'd just gone to. Surprised not that he wrote about it, after all it combined several of his obsessions - music, Neil Young, tube amplifiers and hybrid cars. Surprised because he asked if I would think about posting what he wrote. I told him I was glad to share, as long as he wasn't expecting an actual audience to read his words. He said he realized this wasn't exactly Huffington Post, so I am happily obliging:

When Neil Young came to my hometown in concert, he did not disappoint the faithful that came to see the legendary performer who’s music and socially conscious voice has been strong enough to keep shining from the decade that ushered in Richard Nixon to the decade that ushered out George Bush.

The evening began without a formal announcement about the opening act. The band Everest came out while the crowd was still milling and as technicians continued to make adjustments to the equipment that crowded the stage. By the time they finished their first number people began to take notice that someone was performing and within seconds they had everyone’s attention. Then they ripped into several well-crafted songs that caused the small crowd to calm down and focus. The last number they played had a wonderful guitar frenzy that echoed like a steel bullwhip cracking in the now-full arena.

After Everest finished their set I could have gone home feeling my money was well spent. I suspect the Neville Brothers who followed them felt the same as I did. When they took the stage after Everest they were unable to build on the energy that Everest generated and a noticeable let-down followed each of their songs. Finally there was a small spike when Aaron Neville sang a solo. I am sure they would have sounded better in a New Orleans bar with the sound of clinking glasses in the background.

Finally, it was time for Young. He started loud and proud with a new song that got the sparks flying again. Many of his new songs are laced with lyrics about Young’s hybrid car project, the LincVolt. While these new songs were good they did not fill my craving to hear him sing his old standards. I would have to exercise a little more patience before Neil would serve up the old stuff, because next he hunkered down into an almost fifteen minute screaming guitar set that left me thinking of Miles Davis; while amazing it lacked cohesion and while beautiful it was laborious.

Several well-known standards followed with a few more new songs tossed in. His finale was an excellent cover of the Beatles song “A Day in the Life” that brought the crowd to it’s feet. As he reached the end of the song he got down close to one of the bigger amplifiers causing peels of feedback distortion. Just when you thought he was about to let up on the electronic whining and howling, he got a little crazier and ripped at the guitar strings like a mad werewolf until they all broke. He skillfully used the broken strings like little whips to play the guitar pickups on the now string-less guitar that was leaning against the amplifier, battered and broken. Then, abruptly the stage lights when down and he was gone. I felt a warm sensation of contentment sweep over me, as I joined the crowd in thunderous applause.

I have to hand it to Young. There are not many performers his age that would have the guts to let a group like Everest open for him, at the risk of having the raw energy of a much younger group suck all the air out of the arena before the main act even took the stage. But this night Neil Young proved he is still infected with the restless energy of youth. I am sure this kind of thinking never enter his mind and I hope it never does.

Note - the tee shirt graphics refer to Sal Trentino Electronics and the shirt is available at Young's website.

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