Monday, 26 January 2009

No Longer Young

Concerts from grand old masters are usually interesting but it's hard to guarantee greatness.
I'm a recent convert to Neil Young - I'm the first to admit that I was barely aware of him prior to living in Canadia but I had a few CDs pressed on me while I was there and a month of driving around the states with limited music meant that I listened to his 'Best of' a lot and I was fairly transported by his searing political songs and almost feminine rocking voice - it helped that he'd just released a protest album that was being heavily pushed by the liberal National Public Radio while I was travelling the continent of North America.  When it was announced that he was playing in the Big Day Out I made tentative plans to return to the festival of young people but, as is always the way these days, it sold out pretty quickly and I was forced to do a last minute purchase of relatively crap seats at the Entertainment Centre in order to see this legend of the stage perform.  To be expected, it was an older crowd, most of his fans were sure to be of an earlier generation but there was a fair mix of ages - all of whom were introduced to his music at various stages.
When a man has such an enormous body of work with commercial hits that spread over his 40 year career it was going to be very chancy that he'd end up singing any of my favourites and whilst there were a couple here and there that I recognised it seemed that in trying to please everybody he ended up pleasing noone at all - I would have loved to have heard 'Southern Man' or 'Let's Impeach The President' but perhaps these songs just aren't relevant anymore to an America (and let's face it, I don't live in America) that no longer lynches black people and now elects them as President - it's also a bit late to impeach a man who no longer sits in the office.
I don't know how many concerts Neil Young has performed over his long career but he certainly seemed like he was going through the motions on Saturday night - came out, started singing a few songs (some I knew, some I didn't ... my ladyfriend who possessed an even more reduced knowledge of his music knew even less) - his first banter with the crowd was a brief statement accusing them of being a bunch of alcoholics and later he muttered that he expected more applause from ... (wait for it) ... Sydney? (this instigated a small burst of excitement as the crowd recognised the name of the city that they were in) - he introduced his band that included his lovely wife, thanked the supporting act (This Morning Jacket is a really good group) and finished off with one of his lesser hits and then departed the stage.  As was to be expected the shouting of encore brought him back on where he regaled us with the Beatles hit 'A Day in the Life' before shuffling back off stage and out of my life.  It was good.  It wasn't great.  He really just didn't seem that excited to be there but if I was 68 and had performed thousands of shows in my life I'd probably struggle to get excited about playing the entertainment centre as well.

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