Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Live review: Neil Young

Posted By on Tue, Jun 1, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Neil Young

Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium, S.C.

May 30, 2010

The Deal: Legendary singer-songwriter hits amphitheatre for stop on his solo tour.

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The Good: Young sauntered out on to the stage and took a seat for the beginning of his set – a stretch of six acoustic songs that began with "My My Hey Hey," "Tell Me Why" and an emotionally-charged "Helpless."

The sound in the auditorium was beyond fantastic as you could hear the stretch of the strings and creaks as his fingers changed chords. There wasn't much banter from Young, who gave a brief chuckle when someone yelled out "Freebird."

There was a mellow intensity in the performance which swtiched to electric guitar for "Down By the River," followed by "Hitchhiker" and an outstanding rendition of "Ohio."

Young had his back to the crowd while he played the calliope for "Leia," switched to a pedal organ for "After the Gold Rush" — which he dedicated to Dennis Hopper — and went to a grand piano for "I Believe in You."

Young got numerous standing ovations during the night. He addressed the crowd again when someone continually was yelling out the song titles — "Someone must have a computer because they're yelling out the songs before I play them. I am playing the same set every night. I have so many new songs, I'm just trying to remember what I'm doing."

Throughout the night, it was impressive to see how Young's voice remains intact but his style and sound can change depending on the instrument. He can convey immense emotion on the acoustic as much as on electric, but it's the volume of the instrument and his voice that establish the tone. He'd extend a hint of feedback at the end of a song, or quietly strum an acoustic as if taking a musical breath before continuing a song.

Young thanked the crowd when he returned for his encore, noting that he hasn't been to Spartanburg in a long time. Instead of his usual "Walk With Me" encore, Young first played two acoustic songs by request — "Heart of Gold" and "Old Man."

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The Bad: Definitely an audio show as opposed to some kind of visual experience. The dimly lit stage made it difficult to see what Young was doing at times, but it was the songs that transformed the night. Be aware that Young also has a no cell phone/camera/cell phone camera policy, with people constantly walking the aisles on the lookout — it got distracting at times. He also doesn't allow you to get back in during songs — making those in need of a bathroom break wait in the halls until a song is over to return to their seats.

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The Verdict: An amazing performance by the 64-year-old singer. His voice still carries extreme weight and emotion and is definitely worth the high price of admission.

Setlist

My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)

Tell Me Why

Helpless

You Never Call

Peaceful Valley

Love And War

Down By The River

Hitchhiker

Ohio

Sign Of Love

Leia

After The Gold Rush

I Believe In You

Rumblin'

Cortez The Killer

Cinnamon Girl

Encore

Heart Of Gold

Old Man

Walk With Me

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