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Neil Young Review - First Night Toronto


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[blurb]I dont remember the last show I was as excited for as the Neil last night.

The main reason was I secluded myself from the Internet in order not to spoil the setlist. I really wanted to experience a show like the way we used to, before the Internet and before we knew every song that was going to be played.

Theresa and I got to our seats, top row in the bottom bowl, and got settled in just as the lights dimmed for Wilco. To be very honest, I was really looking forward to seeing Wilco. However, I guess they just weren't my thing. Kept thinking, is this the band so many folks have raved about? Anyways, I thought they had solid chops, just reminded me of the cheesier Umphries sound. But enough with the openers, time for Neil.

Neil came out wearing a dark blazer and ripped blue jeans. Picking up Ole Black, strapping it on, and stepping forward, Neil had a possessed look on his face. I knew we were in for a strong start. (and i guess so did the 20 thousand others who were following the setlists). [/blurb]

Neil opened with the Crazy Horse Classic Love and Only Love. Seemed like a few folks around me weren't quite sure what was being played, but then i looked down a few rows ahead and saw Doug Feaver rockin' out, so, there were others lovin' it!

A Very Strong and Very Loud Love and Only Love made its way into the opening bars of Hey Hey My My. This the rest of the crowd knew. I couldn't believe the power Neil was opening with, especially without any of his Crazy Horse friends on stage with him. During the first verse, Neil made an slight lyrics error. For most, this isn't an issue. But it seemed to distract Neil. The final solo in the song, Neil looked down at ole black with this snarled look on his face and unleashed an onslaught of insanity that only Neil Young could produce!

After blowing us away with the two openers, I knew it had to be time for something to calm us down, and Neil too....the man was on fire up there.

Up next was the 3rd Crazy Horse classic in a row, Everybody Knows this is Nowhere. Neil is going waaaay back to pull out these beauties. Mid song I noticed Neil really picked his stride back up. The backup vocals on the song were being picked up by Peggy Young and I think Astrid was there as well.

I thought at this point, my heart was going to explode, Neils must be as well....Nope, instead he lays down the one distortion chord we all so know well, and into "Look out mamma...". I just about shit. Another Crazy Horse Classic?! Maybe we were in for a Crazy Horse-less Crazy Horse show!

This is the point I wished I was on the floor. We hadn't sat down since the show opened, Theresa was getting down to her favourite neil song, and the fucktard crowd started the "sit down". I gave 'em one look, sparked up a doobie, and kept on dancin'. Fucktards.

This was the strongest, best start to a Neil show i've ever heard. I was beside myself. I was SO glad i hadn't checked the setlist. Few retards around me were shouting for Harvest Moon....but hey, retards are allowed to see Neil as well, i guess.

I almost couldn't handle another power song, yet Neil had other thoughts, bringing out Spirit Road, a new song off his Chrome Dreams II album. He played with enthusiasm and energy. If I didn't know better, I would have thought it was from the same time period as the first four powerhouses.

Ok I thought, now Neil is going to settle down and play the rest of the show to the masses. Nope. Boy was I wrong.

Finishing Spirit Road, out came ole Black and the distortion started again...i thought, no way is it what I think it is....but fuck ya, it was, Cortez the Killer.

Again Neil unleashed an onslaught of ole Black daemons. I'm convinced the man is possessed. The close ups of his face, the weathered and torn skin atop an expression that would make the even the strongest cower. We were in Neils house tonight and he was having his way with us!

As the song finished, i said to myself this is, by far, the most powerful neil show i've ever seen, hands down. His Voice, His Energy, His Willingness to obliterate and shatter our souls. The only thing that would have made it better was to have Bill Talbot putting down the all familiar bass lines and Ralphie pounding away on the Drums. But Neil sure wasn't letting the absence of the two Horse'ers bring this show down.

I didn't know what to expect at this point. My whole idea of how the show was going to go was thrown out the window at this point. I was convinced neil had turned into a mega daemon, and nothing was stopping him.

And nothing did. Cinnamon Girl followed. More Power. More Fun. Neil had more energy than i've ever seen him have. I kept wondering if the man was ever going slow down with this coming of age, but he'd quickly follow my thoughts with a wretched guitar solo that cancelled those queries.

Finally it was time to sit down, relax, and watch as Neil strapped on the Acoustic, the Harmonica, and a few stage members left, leaving Neil all to us.

Oh Lonesome Me/Mother Earth was the first two to be played. What a message to send out to us. Each time Neil repeated the verse, Respect Mother Earth

and her healing ways Or trade away our children's days, he said it with that much more expression. I hope we as a society heed his warning.

Keeping with the acoustic theme, Needle and the Damage Done was followed with a new song i think, something about lighting a candle...

Heart of Gold and Old Man wrapped up the acoustic miniset.

For the next song, Ben Keith put down the pedal steel he had been playing for Heart of Gold and Old Man and picked up a 2nd guitar, exchanging leads and licks with Neil on Get Back to the Country.

Another new song was up next, debuted in the summer in Finland. Just Singing a Song (wont change the world) is a new one that has a poignant message that we all should follow. Neil's right, we all need to assist in this mess, and simply singing a song isn't going to do fix it.

Between the Classics and the new songs, this was definitely the best mix of songs a true fan could ask for.

So with that said, Neil busted out another new one, Sea Change. With all the new songs being played, I couldn't help be reminded me of the line from his early Massey Hall Release. I have all these new songs, and I dont know what to do with them, but sing them. Keep on singing them Neil. There isn't another artist on the planet who continues to be as relevant as Mr Young.

And Neil wasn't done yet. When Worlds Collide was another new song up. Crowd started to get chatty. I was pissed. Neil's new songs really deliver a message. One that can be missed when your surrounded by Fucktards. You got your Cinnamon Girl and Old Man, now shut up!

I guess Neil sensed the restless crowd so he busted out another huge classic, Cowgirl in the Sand.

As the masterpiece ended, I checked my watch and told Theresa, the show must be done...its almost 11:20pm!

Nope. The all so familiar opening notes of Rockin' in the Free World started, the crowd leapt to their feet, finally, and Neil brought down the house.

It's 11:30, the arena staff had left to go home. Doob's were pouring out thick smoke all around. Two old ladies in there 60's were shaking their hips. Anyone else would have had the lights turned on for them, but as the opening band Wilco declared, its Neil Young in a Hockey Arena, how can you get any better than that!

So off they went for a very short encore break, and back for the encore, my first time even hearing his version, A Day in the Life.

Fun. (but its the beatles, lol).

Crowd liked it though, and neil looked like he was having a blast playing it....so thats cool with me.

Exhausted, Theresa and I sat back down in our seats while the crowd exited. Mr Douglas Feaver came up for a Post Neil chat. You should have seen the folks doing double takes as they walked by him while we were chatting.

All in all, next to the ultra special Massey Hall shows, it was by far, the best Neil concert, heck the best rock concert, I may have ever seen in my life!

I can't wait for tonight. I'm on the floor, and i'm going to the front!

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what he said!!

Awesome show and great review steve! i did the same thing and ignored any and all internet snooping to have me an authentic type of night...so awesome. I love when i leave a show beaming and wake up the next day still smiling.

Last night show was great, save the fuckers talking during Wilco and falling over drunk, but that's to be expected at a show, eh. Tonight will be kicked up a notch for the weekend vibe me thinks, wish i were going.

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oh, and sea of change i liked. quite a bit. Just singing a song was good too.

When worlds collide was probably the weaker of the new ones...but i'm sure it'll grow on me.

I wasn't a huge fan of Spirit Road, but now that i've seen it live a few times, i find myself really liking it....

but as said, all his new songs, the four of them, really have a similar message. i'm sure the album that they'll be part of will be another emotional album with a strong message.

of course, none of his new material grabbed me like the Greendale series of songs did....

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Great night!

I have to agree, the energy that Neil was putting out from start to finish was inspirational. He is a heavy, heavy dude, and "old" age doesn't appear to be slowing him down at all. I haven't seen Neil in a couple of years, and I was quickly confronted with all of the goodness that I have been missing out on.

First time being on the floor for Neil, and it was a real treat to get so close to him. He was so charged. I thought his wife actually sounded better than I remember as well. They are so cute, and obviously very much in love.

I wasn't a huge fan of Sea Change and Worlds Collide to tell you the truth. Todd viewed them in the same light the Dead's Victim or the Crime... All in all I thought the first half othe show was the most powerful, but I enjoyed hearing Cowgirl towards the end, and Day in the Life was pretty cool as well.

It was my first time seeing Wilco as well. I thought they were great! I only own a couple of their albums, and there were definitely a few tunes played that were less familiar to me, and I am convinced that I need to beef up my wilco collection. They were soo tight... Lot going on up on that stage, and it was all coming together so well.

Anyone going tonight is in for a great show!

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Just a quick note about the new material, Neil made a comment at the Halifax show that I thought was hilarious...before one of the "new songs" (I'll be honest, I didn't know them or particularly enjoy them, but my seats were terrible), Neil said something like:

"here's a new song, I dunno, they all sound the same to me....."

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