I’ve been a huge Neil Young fan forever, but only once managed to see him live, sometime in the early 80’s at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. That was a pretty big show in a huge barn-like structure, and we had typical ‘all a student could afford’ dodgy seats, which hardly enhanced the experience. When we were lucky enough to score some tickets to see Neil Young on the second gig of his latest tour, I was as excited as a snow ho on a 2 foot powder day. So off to Spokane we went on a cold and damp autumn night.
I’d read reviews of the first show in Boise, so knew pretty much what to expect. Basically a solo set with lots of old favorites and some obscure-ish songs from way back, and a full on rock-n-roll set featuring new songs as well as classics like "The Loner", "Cinnamon Girl" and "Tonight’s the Night". And well, that’s what we got, minus one song – "The Campaigner" (one I love) dropped from the acoustic set.
The sound in the IMB Theatre was crisp, and we had a decent elevated view from the balcony. The first set, full of old classics, flew by, and was certainly a crowd pleaser. Getting a beer in the interval turned out to be a fruitless task for most – can someone tell the operators that at rock shows the crowd likes a drink, and more than one server per bar is required! Doh …
We got back to our seats, just missing the first few lines of "The Loner", and from then on, the band played loud and with plenty of energy for a bunch of 60-ish year olds. Some of the new material stood up very well to live renditions, with the long "No Hidden Path" bringing the set to a roaring, epic end. But it was certainly a night for the true hard core Neil Young fan – no lip service to a ‘greatest hits’ show here.
I’d have appreciated a couple of more famous tracks – like "Cortez the Killer", or "Like a Hurricane" which he apparently played in the next show in Portland. But I left smiling, and strangely calm and content, just happy to have seen one of the legends of rock put on a fine performance.
Some clips here – Heart of Gold, Winterlong, Tonight’s the Night, Cinnamon Girl, No Hidden Path