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Jim's short review
Charlie K's full review
(more reviews coming)
The show details.
An Atlanta Journal Constitution review.
An Atlanta Journal Constitution follow-up.
Chastain Park is a very nice venue but very hard to get in and out of. Major complaint with the crowd: Yuppies greatly outnumber true fans and there was much crowd talk throughout show. What a shame! Fortunately, Neil with Crazy Horse drowned out much of it. But Neil quit in the middle of his one accoustic song (Bandit) because of crowd noise. He was pissed and commented that his worst crowd was at Las Vegas, but Atlanta crowd was nearly as bad.
In spite of crowd and sometimes pouring rain, the show was GREAT!!! I was apprehensive about hearing mostly new astuff, but I was totally immersed in Greendale by the end of the first song. It just got better. By the time Neil got to his last two numbers from Greendale, Sun Green and Be the Rain, both he and Crazy Horse were rocking with some of his best stuff in years.
In spite of the rain and crowd, this show was as good or better than any of his shows I have seen, and I have seen many of them.
KEEP ROCKIN NEIL!
So Greendale was played without production. Pretty disappointing for me, even though the material is still very strong. If it's true that there's no Greendale at Bonnaroo, I think that kinda sucks, cause then I'll have gone to both shows without the production. But of course 3 hours of the Horse wouldn't exactly kill me.
I hadn't read anything warning that Atlanta would not get the Greendale stage production, so I didn't really realize it until I got there and saw the small Chastain stage with no set anywhere in sight.
If you've read my Rust posts, you've heard me bitch long, hard, and often that Neil was playing at this stupid venue. I thought I'd prepared myself by bringing along the oldest person I know (my dad). We had a good time laughing at folks bringing wine to their seats during the Lucinda set. But Chastain got the best of me, god dammit.
I was really hoping to hear Be The Rain in the rain. It poured down up to the end of Lucinda's set, which was real good, but the skies were clear for Neil. Things just weren't meant to click together for me for this one, I guess.
Neil came out around 9:00 and played a kickass Falling From Above. I thought all of Greendale was just amazing with the Horse treatment, no doubt about it. This was my first time seeing Neil with Crazy Horse, and even though I hadn't heard them play their standard stuff live in person I was really lookin' forward to hearin him play the new songs. At this point the crowd was also real into it and happy. FFA is definitely a great song and it sounds like classic Neil, so everyone was still happy and excited.
After this Neil described how the stuff talked about in the song was about the town of Greendale, with the characters "Grandpa, Edith and Earl, who can't be here tonight, which is too bad. We'll try and bring it to you as best we can musically though. Sun Green might be here later." Neil really seemed disappointed and dissatisfied with having to do Greendale without all the actors and production. And even though it sounded great, you had to be too if you knew that you were missing out on the usual show.
To try and make sense of everything, Neil did the storytelling thing like he did in Europe. Not sure how much of this he did at the Florida shows but he was saying exactly the same things. However, instead of being locked into the story, he seemed to rush through it, seemed bored with it, as if just trying to get it out as fast as possible so people would have some clue. There were some good funny comments, but you could tell his heart just wasn't in the storytelling and that this couldn't be as special a show for him.
Given all that, Neil busted into Double E and it rocked. Sounded amazing. The crowd was still into it. Neil did another impatient story break and then kicked ass again with Devil's Sidewalk, which really sounds great electric. The Mountainettes came out to sing the "Greendale" backup in between lines. The energy of the material seemed to be making up for the lack of energy and heart in the presentation of the story.
The crowd energy started to go south a little bit during Leave the Drivin'. Since there was no production, there was also no Greendale presentation on the video monitors. All we got was shots of Neil at the microphone, and when he walked away from it, shots of the microphone. The crowd has really responded to political allusions earlier but couldn't quite catch everything without the video to go along here. They began to realize that the Greendale story was only getting more detailed and deeper rather than wrapping up.
With the stage production, fans probably get the point that Neil isn't gonna just stop all that and play Powderfinger. But when the songs are being played straight up, it could seem at first like he might soon change from new stuff to old stuff. The songs still sounded great, but Neil was starting to care less about telling the stories that explained the songs.
As Neil began to sing about Carmichael after the long instrumental intro, he had lost the crowd's attention somewhat. I thought I would enjoy watching Yuppies get pissed off that Neil wasn't playing greatest hits, but you had to feel for the people a little at this point. All the new songs could be a lot when you don't really get what it's all about, even worse without the production. With the crowd losing interest, and Neil seeming like he wasn't really into the show himself, the atmosphere of the concert was affected a little bit. Going in, you feel like you will enjoy feeling superior to those who don't get the new material, but the energy in the crowd does make a difference. The Carmichael line "god dammit ... just talkin' to the wall" kind've struck home here.
By the end of that long and great Carmichael, a lot of the audience had started to chat it up a bit. This led to the classic Neil Young moment of the concert, with Neil aborting Bandit, saying "aww this is just like Vegas" or something to that affect. He said he had once made the mistake of playing an acoustic show in Las Vegas where everyone talked the whole time, and he could see that Atlanta had a little Las Vegas in it. Not completely sure if this was just people talking or someone in the very front being a prick, but there went Bandit.
Of course, I didn't feel that great about Neil puttin down the hometown. I felt like the crowd as a whole really did try to accept and get into the new material as much as possible given the circumstances. And it wasn't a bad or disrespectful crowd at all. But I did enjoyed the moment because it was such a Neil Young thing. I do think he was already pissed off about not having the production in the show and couldn't get past that. Hope no Rustie was looking forward to Bandit there as his absolute must-hear favorite.
Neil then said that that song was about Earl reflecting in a hotel room and stuff like that something something "but you didn't need to hear about that anyway." Again, I was smiling about this, but I think that he was being kind of unfair to the crowd.
There hadn't been any intro to this song and there definitely wasn't after. Neil kind've gave up on the intros, which might've been a good thing, because they were getting sorta pressed for time. Of course, after that episode, there definitely was no extended instrumental intro to Grandpa's Interview. Neil being all pissed off helped for this one, when he got into the Grandpa voice. "Who do they think they are," "They don't show any respect, so they'll get none of mine..." Great stuff.
Even after getting bitched out, the crowd took it real well and tried hard to applaud and cheer everything as best as possible, perhaps hoping that Neil would later reward them for it rather than taking stuff away as punishment. There was a really positive reaction to Bringin' Down Dinner (maybe cause its the shortest Greendale song).
For Sun Green and Be The Rain we actually did get the Sun Green's actress. She came out and shouted into her megaphone and danced. She looked great and this was cool and made it seem like the whole production would really be cool... Oh well...
These are also two really strong songs which I think the crowd found that they were groovin' to without even understanding the stuff. Be The Rain finished things on a real positive note. This song just sounds great.
They came back out for the encore and Neil said "This used to be one of Grandpas favorite songs" and bbrroowww-Powderfinger. All of a sudden guys are givin each other high fives and huggin' their women. I guess the crowd decided to make the best of things and really get into it while they could. This was about as good a Powderfinger as can be played. I sorta worry about Pancho, though -- it looks like he's really slowed down.
With Hey Hey My My (Into the Black) I'd forgotten to be disappointed that Neil was gonna play the same three songs for the encore, cause, after all, I'd never heard these things live in person before and they're obviously incredible. Neil sorta did a pointing thing down on the stage when he sang "they give you this, but you pay for that" -- maybe acknowleding that that's what the crowd had been thinking. When he sang "better to burn out than f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-fade away", you remembered why he's doin all this crazy new shit in the first place. Neil definitely has the balls to go down crashing and burning with the Greendale stuff if he has to.
Exit, come back, Like A Hurricane. Great as always, and then Greensleeves.
I made sure to listen to folks on the way out:
(more reviews coming...)