Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Shakey still rocking - Neil Young 6th July 2008

Saw Neil Young on Sunday at the Hop Farm Festival in Kent and he was 'most excellent'. The weather didn't spoil the occasion and Young was supported by a strong line up including Supergrass, My Morning Jacket, Rufus Wainwright (brilliant version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah), Guillemots, Laura Marling, Everest, Carbon/Silicon and Primal Scream who finished with a storming version of Movin' On Up.

There were about 30,000 gathered at the festival which prides itself on its green credentials and refusal to rely on branding. But the crowd were gathered for one reason only and when Young took to the stage I realised a teenage dream, having been unable to see him with Crazy Horse at the Hammersmith Odeon in the mid 70's. The stage was an interesting mix of amps, instruments, fans, cinema lights and a cigar store indian. Most intriguing was the painter's easel at the side of the stage on which a series of paintings inspired by the songs were displayed. The paintings had been created by Young's roadie Eric Johnson during previous shows. In interview Young said that if you didn't want to watch him you could always watch his roadie paint!

Anyway, on with the main event. Young took to the stage in his signature paint splattered suit and roared into a powerful rendition of Love and Only Love. The set mainly focused on his heavier material, perfect for a venue which provided an excellent backdrop for his sonic tour de force. There was a quieter passage which included classics like Heart of Gold and Old Man and Young accompanied himself on a pump organ as he sang a heartfelt Mother Earth. Then a blistering version of No Hidden Path from his last album Chrome Dreams II. This monster went on for over 15 minutes with soaring solos, bone shaking rumbles and harmonics that only Young can rip from his faithful black Les Paul.

The band, including wife Peggy, were magnificent; raw power when required and then perfect harmonies to complement the beauty of Young's acoustic masterpieces. There was one final treat to end: having left the stage for a few moments the band returned and launched into a stunning version of The Beatles A Day In The Life ending with Young's guitar, displaying several broken strings after the thrashing he had just given it, alone in front of an amp and the drone of feedback reverberating around the countryside. As my daughter would say 'awesome'!

(festival weather! Alison & Tim Hancock, Kate & Phil Ritchie)

Set list:
Love And Only Love
Hey Hey, My My
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
I've Been Waiting For You
Spirit Road
Fu***n' Up
Oh, Lonesome Me
Mother Earth
The Needle And The Damage Done
Unknown Legend
Heart Of Gold
Old Man
Get Back To The Country
No Hidden Path
A Day In The Life

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Neil Young - God's Prophet?