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Old 11-27-2007, 09:03 AM   #1
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Default Neil Young's Massey Homecoming

Toronto Star

Hometown welcome for Neil Young - Music - Hometown welcome for Neil Young
Surrounded by art, guitar collection, playing folk or rock, 62-year-old is still the master
November 27, 2007

It was the mother of all homecomings.

Last night Neil Young returned to Toronto, his birthplace, and, more importantly, to Massey Hall, 36 years after his sold-out 1971 concert there suggested he might be a Canadian star of profound and possibly lasting artistic worth.

In the first of three shows at the venerable Victorian venue – he performs there again tonight and Thursday – the 62-year-old singer, guitarist and songwriter dabbled quite deliberately and self-consciously with notions of art throughout. A sharply dressed curator, in red jacket and white boater, wandered upstage, hanging and rearranging primitive paintings on the back wall, appearing to evaluate them, even discussing their virtues in the intermission with Young and his wife, Peggy, posing as potential buyers.

And high above the set – it resembled a home studio complete with a lifetime's collectibles, including half a dozen priceless vintage acoustic guitars in the first half of the program, and stacks of ancient and equally valuable amplifiers in the second – hung a series of letters and one number, 3, which seemed to have some mysterious function as they began to light up, one by one, late in the evening.

If it was Neil the folkie or Neil the rocker for whom the enthusiastic crowd turned up – they rose to their feet when he walked onstage unannounced, and after almost every song– they all got their fill, and then some.

The first 45 minutes, after an indifferently received opening set by Peggy and part of Young's band (dobro/steel player Ben Keith and bassist Rick Rosas) featured Young solo, wandering between a cluster of acoustic guitars (he played just three of them, and a banjo) and two pianos (a grand and a honky-tonk upright), and offering up, with almost whimsical abandon, familiar masterpieces ("Old Man," "A Man Needs A Maid," "From Hank To Hendrix," "Cowgirl In The Sand," "Ambulance Blues") and more obscure gems from his vast treasury.

He was in fine voice, his trademark falsetto barely faltering in the high register, and his guitar playing exemplary.

He resembled no one so much as an elderly dealer in fine musical arts sampling his objets, amusing himself with their sweet sounds, and lost in memories, particularly when he recalled his grandmother, who worked during the day at a copper mine in Flin Flon, and on weekends entertaining the miners in musical concerts and plays.

"She had a gold purse that shone," he said.

"It's hanging on my piano at home (in California)."

After a 20-minute intermission Young returned to the stage with Keith, Rosas and drummer Ralph Molina – a musical colleague from the Crazy Horse Days in the 1960s – for a smoking set of typically raunchy rock, much of it from the current album, Chrome Dreams II interspersed with a few lost classics ("Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere," "Winterlong").

Older, maybe not wiser, and certainly no less passionate, Young was the master last night. Long may he run.

Toronto Sun
Neil Keeps on rockin'

Canadian rock legend thrills lucky fans last night at intimate Massey Hall show

The two faces of Neil Young -- fragile and ferocious-- showed themselves last night at Massey Hall as the 62-year-old Canadian folk-rock icon returned to the scene of his breakthrough concert some 36 years ago.

Appropriately enough, Neil Young: Live At Massey Hall 1971 Toronto, was officially released earlier this year but it's a just released new album, Chrome Dreams II (a sequel to a never released 1977 album), that Young is actually touring in support of with the blistering, marathon set highlight, No Hidden Path, representing the best of the four new songs he played.

Although, judging from his eclectic set list of many rarities and unreleased tracks over the course of an acoustic solo first half followed by electric band second half, the ever mercurial Young wasn't going to let a little thing like a new album dictate what he played.

Nor did the crowd's incessant, loud and annoying requests seem to sway him.

As an announcer cautioned before the concert even began, "the songs have been pre-selected."

Young, dressed in a carmel coloured suit and pink dress shirt, initially plopped himself down on a chair surrounded by acoustic guitars arranged in a circle around him and opened the evening with From Hank to Hendrix
And whenever he got up to play another instrument, whether it was an upright piano to one side or a piano with built in synthesizer to the other, the crowd stirred, either proclaiming their love outright or just breaking into spontaneous applause. (Among those spotted in audience were such respected Toronto area musicians as Gord Downie, Kathleen Edwards and Tomi Swick).

At times, it seemed as if Young was unsure of where he was going to go next but then he would find his place and blow the audience away with his tender, heart-heavy music on such acoustic folk standouts as A Man Needs a Maid, No One Seems to Know, Harvest, Journey Through the Past, Mellow My Mind, Cowgirl in the Sand and Old Man.

"It's good to be back," he said at one point, saying his mind had earlier wandered to thinking about his grandmother, whose purse now hung on his piano at home.

If the first part of Young's show was intimate and absorbing, the second set was a powerful eye-opener about Young's continuing prowess as a mesmerizing electric guitar player.

He was joined by pedal steel guitarist Ben Keith, bassist Rick Rosas, Crazy Horse drummer Ralph Molina, and backing vocalists Anthony Crawford and his wife Pegi Young -- who opened the show with a folksy 45-minute set -- but all eyes were on Young as he stomped around the stage during such plugged-in highlights as The Loner, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Cinnamon Girl, and new tunes Dirty Old Man, Spirit Road and The Believer.

There were plenty of other distractions too, such as a painter who would put a new painting up at an easel near the front of the stage to correspond with each new song, a strand of random letters and numbers that formed a backdrop and an old wooden carving of an Native chief.

Young's three night stand at Massey Hall continues tonight and again Thursday night.


Last night

Massey Hall

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Old 11-27-2007, 09:45 AM   #2
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Default Re: Neil Young's Massey Homecoming

Thanks for sharing those articles and reviews with us, Yuri. (And you too, Jesse Joe!) I would have loved to be there for such an evening...I have some very special connections to Neil Young's music. Great to hear he is still putting on some powerful the artist grows older, and undoubtedly wiser, the songs take on an even greater emotional connection and depth - for himself and for the listener. Here's hoping he continues to create and perform for years to come, and finds fulfillment in doing so.
"Someday we'll wave hello and wish we'd never waved goodbye..." -- Billy Corgan
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Old 11-27-2007, 05:52 PM   #3
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Default Re: Neil Young's Massey Homecoming

You can bet "Old Man" takes on new meaning for him now at age 61.
"A knight of the road,going back to a place where he might get warm." - Borderstone
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Old 11-28-2007, 11:08 AM   #4
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Default Re: Neil Young's Massey Homecoming

"Nor did the crowd's incessant, loud and annoying requests seem to sway him.

As an announcer cautioned before the concert even began, "the songs have been pre-selected."

love it..!!
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Old 11-29-2007, 12:28 AM   #5
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Default Re: Neil Young's Massey Homecoming

Let's shake again
Mike Doherty , National Post
Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Neil Young at Massey Hall, Toronto, Nov. 26

Neil Young performed at Massey Hall amidst his collection of bric-a-brac, including a cigar-store Indian, a red telephone, a baby grand piano and a large jumbled set of alphabet letters.

For most of his career, Neil Young has been moving forward too fast to look back. After his two solo appearances at Massey Hall in January, 1971, for instance, he shelved the recordings, thinking little of them.

Thirty-six years later, his return engagement at the same venue is giving him a rare chance to take stock of the past. He is promoting both Chrome Dreams II (a "sequel" to his unreleased 1977 album) and Live at Massey Hall, finally released this year. While the former is an uneven hodgepodge, the latter helpfully documents Young's creative watershed between After the Gold Rush and Harvest (recently voted No. 3 and No. 1 respectively in the book The Top Canadian Albums), when he was playing a raft of new material in a rather intimate venue in his hometown.

On Monday, fans eager to follow their mercurial hero made pilgrimages from abroad and even from North Ontaraye-o-- at one point, someone in Massey Hall's balcony shouted, "Thunder Bay is in the house!" Young deadpanned, "That's good--I once left some things there."

What he didn't leave there he brought with him: The stage looked like the inside of a packrat's garage, complete with a morose-looking cigar-store Indian carved out of wood, a red telephone (which Young pretended to speak into at one point between songs), a baby grand piano painted to look as if it were on fire and a large jumbled set of alphabet letters that could have been rejects from an old seaside marquee. All that was missing was an electric train.

Young also surrounded himself with acoustic guitars for his first set, and after ambling on stage to a prolonged standing ovation, he sat down to perform 1992's From Hank to Hendrix, in which he sings, "Here I am with this old guitar / Doin' what I do." It was a fitting start to a concert that seemed not so much like a snapshot of an artist in transition (as did the 1971 shows) as a career summation.

Sandwiched between all-time classics like Harvest and Old Man were obscurities such as Day and Night We Walk These Aisles (which Young explained is about Toronto's now-defunct Glendale theatre) and Love/Art Blues (a mid-'70s number in which he fretted about having to choose between the two -- clearly, with his wife Pegi on tour as background vocalist and opening act, he's since solved this problem). But even the songs that only the die-hards recognized were immediately accessible -- Young has become a much more engaging performer than the 25-year-old peering warily out of a spotlight in a darkened theatre in 1971. Even when sitting down, he shifts around, taps his feet and throws back his head to wring emotion out of his often stark lyrics.

In singing about loneliness or regret, he seemed to be not so much excoriating the past as celebrating it: He sent out the autumnal Journey Through the Past to his late Granny Jean from Flin Flon. The folksy intimacy bred perhaps too much interaction from the crowd, who whooped and hollered at lines both predictable ("I'm going back to Canada," "I'm up in T.O.") and not-so-predictable ("You're all just pissing in the wind").

Some audience members had apparently taken the new song Dirty Old Man's lyrics to heart ("I like to get hammered / On Friday night / Sometimes I can't wait / So Monday's all right"), and by the time a woman intimated that Young should Harvest her ovaries, the crowd participation had become intrusive. Despite Shakey's impressive acoustic performance, it was something of a relief when he plugged in and added a backing band for his second set.

Young drew heavily on the more predictable riff-rock from Chrome Dreams II. Again, he was in good form, wrenching out searing solos from his trusty axe, Old Black, but his long-time sidemen (including bassist Rick Rosas and stock-still rhythm guitarist Ben Keith) did little but play unassuming repetitive patterns to fill out the sound. As such, the music settled into a pleasant, head-nodding groove, lacking the nervous, aggressive edge that marks his most electric performances.

When the crowd rose at last to their feet for the encore, it seemed to galvanize the band: a snarling Cinnamon Girl led to a version of Like a Hurricane that lived up to its title. It was a churning psychedelic opus torn between sweet string sounds courtesy of a keyboard decorated to look like a dove (a holdover from 1979's Rust Never Sleeps tour) and some violent guitar-and-drum bashing by Young and Ralph Molina.

Out of the tension between these elements emerged a sound both beautiful and frightening, and the concert reached the transcendent moment it had struggled to attain.

Unlike most of his colleagues from the classic-rock era, Young tends to embrace the fact that his most vital music springs from a sense of opposition. At 62, two years after a life-threatening aneurysm, he has earned the right to sit back in a comfort zone. An archival box set scheduled for next year suggests he might continue to sift through the past. But leaving aside cliches about burning out and fading away, Young still seems to have enough fire in him to burn a few more bridges.

Let's hope that with this current tour, he's just stoking the flames.

- Neil Young plays another sold-out show at Massey Hall Thursday night. For more Neil Young tour dates, go to
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