(I am cross-posting separate reviews of MMJ and Neil Young to four message boards I follow and also sending to my concert pals.)
I'm not a Rustie because I'm not on the Rust list, but I don't think I've missed a Neil Young stop in Colorado since 1972. I am a Relayer though. Relayers is a US, UK and Canadian community of about 180 Who fans familiar to each other due to Who tour traveling and meet-ups in various cities. Just as there is a huge overlap of fans of My Morning Jacket and Pearl Jam, there is a similar overlap in demographics, grey hair and baldness among Who fans and Neil Young fans. A few of my Relayer pals are also Rusties. So the past two nights our contingent were the "Rusted Relayers". A couple of them, Lauri (Long Island) & Joyce (Boston), accepted my offer to crash at my home for the Neil gigs at Red Rocks, after first attending the tour opener in Albuquerque on Friday. Lauri made and distributed tie-dyed orange Rusted Relayer t-shirts. My friend Joyce was named Rustie of the Month for August. They have a traveling Rustie of the Month crown with a fancy hat box to to keep it in. Over time, the crown has had many baubles and buttons attached to it by past Rusties of the Month and they sign their names on the inside.. It's a pretty cool tradition, and sort of reminded me of the Stanley Cup. Joyce proudly wore her crown during the pre-show parties. Highlight of the shows went to Rusted Relayer Lauri however, more on that later. The Rusties are an amiable lot, as you would expect, and they were always busting out guitars and singing Neil tunes in the restaurants and hotel lobbies. I was happy to share their world awhile.
Both Red Rocks shows were sell-outs, and many My Morning Jacket fans stayed at least one night to catch Neil too. I found myself in situations to obtain tickets outside the venue both nights, and ended up paying $120 for a $60 (cheapest seats) ticket to get a friend in on Sunday. It was the toughest market for buyers I have ever seen at Red Rocks. I had to pay $80 to get myself in Monday, though I wound up on the 9th row in a sharing arrangement next to the sound board rope.
I have a few gripes about Neil in this review, and the first one is that he always has 100% reserved seating at Red Rocks. The traditional way is GA for the first 24 rows, then reserved 25-60, then GA again to the top. But with Neil you get these situations in which 5 people cram into 4 seats or couples share one seat. Fortunately if you are standing, the rows are wide enough to accommodate this, but dammit Neil, keep the front GA!
As far as the show itself, Neil being Neil, threw a curve and played six unreleased new songs each night. A couple of them were 20 minutes long. And, after sending a free copy of "Americana" to every ticket buyer, we only got one "Americana" song, in the second night's encore. The new songs were great and quick to like, and will be on an album to be released in October. They are probably on YouTube now. It was good to hear them again the second night to more fully appreciate them, but this leads to my next gripe: -- the identical set lists for the first three shows of this tour, except for one different encore song. Fine, play the new songs each night, but when a few thousand fans are going both nights to Red Rocks, lets change up the rest of the set lists. How hard can that be? I've been spoiled by Pearl Jam, My Morning Jacket and all the jam bands. Neil & Crazy Horse left a lot on the table.
If you want to see the set list go here.http://sugarmtn.org/year.php?year=2012. Then you can google the new songs on YouTube. or go here:
With the exception of one short solo interlude, this show was loud, raw and brutal. My friends told me after Albuquerque that it was like you just had "two hours of rough sex". Not a bad description. I'd have to go back to Soundgarden's assault to the senses a year ago to compare anything to it. Godfather of Grunge indeed.
My last gripe is this penchant Neil has for interminable endings to songs. One song's ending went from kind of clever, to ridiculous, to downright irritating in the span of ten minutes. It was more like Performance Art than music, and I mean no praise. He literally lost the crowd for a bit. It was one of the strangest interludes I have ever witnessed in 40 years of concerts. It was no fluke, he did it both nights. I will not describe it further..Another more interesting interlude was Neil's brief but potent interaction with my Rusted Relayer friend Lauri at the rail. For a few moments, they mind-melded. I have never seen Neil do this much intense interaction with a member of the audience.. I don't think Lauri even needed a plane when I took her and Joyce to the airport this morning.
I would sum up by saying this show is a solid B, but over the years I have seen better Neil/Crazy Horse concerts,