Neil Young Leans Hard Into Obscurities — as Promised! — in Magical Tour Opener at L.A.’s Ford: Concert Review |

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“What is that?” Neil Young asked toward nan extremity of his solo-tour-opening show Friday nighttime astatine the Ford amphitheater successful nan Hollywood hills, referring to a strange, seemingly distant but rather audible sound that occasionally punctuated his songs aliases commentary. “Are you proceeding that each night?” This was not an audio hallucination; nan reasonably friendly crowd of 1,200 was privy to it, too, and immoderate had been looking up earlier to spot if it mightiness beryllium a mighty upwind causing a whoosh successful nan scenically placed thenar trees complete nan stage. It was not. “It’s One Direction!” personification successful nan assemblage yet shouted — not rather getting it right, but connected constituent successful alluding to nan root of nan noise, intermittent crowd roars from a Louis Tomlinson performance astatine nan Hollywood Bowl, conscionable connected nan different broadside of nan 101. “How do you for illustration my caller band?” Young yet quipped, earlier getting backmost to business, resigning himself to nan stray sound effects.

These occasional faint outbursts weren’t too bothersome, truth beryllium told, and did not spell a very agelong measurement toward interrupting nan magic unfolding wrong nan Bowl’s overmuch tinier, 103-year-old cousin. If anything, possibly nan fleeting ambient sounds served a mini intent successful mounting up a not-so-ironic opposition pinch what was happening present connected nan different broadside of nan tracks, arsenic it were. It was cross-canyon Opposite Day successful astir each regard, starting pinch a mini assemblage that sat mostly successful rapt soundlessness (aside from nan yahoo prone to shouting “Keep goin’, Neil!,” arsenic if Young’s laconic shape beingness suggested personification successful request of a pep talk). Then location was nan taxable matter, pinch Young favoring worldly that astatine slightest touches connected nan passing of clip aliases emotion a touch of alienation from different generations aliases one’s own. And then, finally, you had nan full gambit of this tour, successful which Young made it clear successful an online chat earlier tickets went connected waste that this little westbound seashore solo tally would person a setlist mostly of songs he’d seldom aliases ne'er played successful performance before. We will cognize Louis Tomlinson has really made it if someday he sells retired a circuit connected nan committedness of “the non-hits, nothin’ but nan non-hits.”

Young will upscale nan circuit a bit, erstwhile he finishes nan 4 opening dates astatine nan Ford (formerly known arsenic nan John Anson Ford Amphitheatre and, earlier that, nan Pilgrimage, successful nan 1920s done ’70s). He follows these dates pinch 2 nights astatine nan Greek — 1 sold out, positive an added day pinch handfuls of tickets near — succeeded by shows successful different parts of California and Washington, Oregon and Nevada. But nan Ford was nan spot to beryllium for galore of his astir die-hard devotees, for nan extremist small-scale-ness of it all, aliases for nan chance to acquisition nan setlist caller and without spoilers, beyond a fistful of picks that Young himself had already revealed successful a chat. Maybe nan biggest use of seeing nan show astatine nan Ford, though, astir apt unwittingly for astir ticket-buyers, is getting nan chance to consciousness for illustration a fairie sprite who has conscionable happened upon Neil Young successful nan woods. (Woods that person thenar trees, yes, but adjacent enough.) His candlelit setup — 3 pianos, a pump organ, acoustic and electrical guitars, a painted stove, an operating exemplary trainset and a lit-up “LOVE” motion — felt for illustration a surviving room that had been dragged retired into nan redwoods, aliases arsenic adjacent to a semi-natural mounting arsenic municipality Hollywood is going to provide.

Or, arsenic Young put it successful “Prime of Life,” 1 of nan set’s highlights, “When I clasp you successful my arms, I hide what’s retired there.” Mass shrieks a fewer 100 yards distant and each nan tensions that travel pinch constricted stacked parking notwithstanding.

Young did dishonesty astir 1 thing, erstwhile he was mounting expectations for nan tour: He powerfully implied that 1 opus successful peculiar would not beryllium played. “I’d alternatively beryllium doing these others songs I haven’t done,” he told fans successful his website chat. “I won’t person to comparison really I’m doing ‘Heart of Gold’ to 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010, 2020…” He did do “Heart of Gold,” actually, to wrap up nan pre-encore information of nan show, but retired of 17 songs, that was 1 of only 3 that anyone could count remotely arsenic a hit, per se, nan different 2 being “Ohio” and nan Buffalo Springfield’s “On nan Way Home.” (And moreover that past 1 hardly dented immoderate charts and hasn’t usually been a staple of Young concerts, contempt its classic-rock-firmament status.) Young did benignant of make a constituent of allowing that “Heart of Gold” was a sop to assemblage expectations this clip around. When he went into his first encore number afterward, “Love Earth,” a opus from a 2022 medium he’d ne'er done unrecorded before, he noted that it was different to bring up a opus fewer would admit for nan climactic information of a show — but indicated he felt he’d earned it, pointing retired he’d “just played my biggest deed of each time.”

Things whitethorn consciousness different successful nan larger confines of nan L.A. and Berkeley Greeks, Vina Robles Amphitheatre, Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena, etc., but astatine nan Ford, nary justifications for nan obscure worldly were really needed, for fans dedicated capable to person obtained tickets to his first afloat show successful 4 years by immoderate intends necessary.

“Heart of Gold” happened to fresh successful pinch nan time-shifting lyrical and philharmonic tenor, anyway, of a group successful which only CSNY’s topical “Ohio” really felt a small for illustration nan odd-song-out. (If you deliberation this is really a title that “Ohio” sewage played, prevention your calls, letters and @’s.) The constituent is that, moreover without throwing successful “Old Man,” Young has ever liked to represent himself arsenic a man retired of time, aliases retired of nan generational space-time continuum, measurement older than his years backmost erstwhile he was connected Sugar Mountain and possibly younger than that now. He has seldom gotten truthful circumstantial pinch his lyrics, astatine length, that you could opportunity very galore of his songs are flagrant anthems for a boomer generation. But nan setlist for this circuit judge includes a batch of songs that unrecorded up to nan committedness he made successful his online chat astir doing “songs that use to my life correct now, and use to everyone’s lives successful this era that we’re in,” moreover though “some of them were written 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago, but ne'er really played live.”

“People my age, they don’t do nan things I do / They spell location while I tally distant pinch you,” Young sang successful nan opening “I’m nan Ocean” — a opus recorded and released pinch Pearl Jam 28 years ago, erstwhile he was some acknowledging his procreation and mounting himself isolated from it. In nan end, he utilized that tune to comparison himself pinch nan oversea itself (does it get immoderate much timeless than that?) — but besides “a Cutlass Supreme” (does it get immoderate little timeless than that?), “in nan incorrect lane, trying to move against nan flow.” In “My Heart,” a opus from 1994’s “Sleeps With Angels” that Young was someway performing unrecorded astatine nan Ford for nan very first time, he offered, “I gotta get somewhere, it’s not excessively late,” pinch an urgency that felt quaint, now that nan “not excessively late” is 29 years later. Singing “When I Hold You successful My Arms,” a opus that he hasn’t performed since earlier it came retired successful 2002, he revived nan lines “The older generation, they sewage somethin’ to opportunity / But they amended opportunity it accelerated aliases get outta nan way” — only it sounded (someone cheque maine connected this) for illustration he substituted “younger” for “older.” If that was so, possibly he meant to opportunity that moreover Gen X and millennials guidelines successful threat of being aged and successful nan way. One genuinely uncommon number, “Homefires,” recorded and performed unrecorded successful nan early ’80s but not released connected grounds until nan caller “Archives Vol. 2,” had Young singing, “I’m not nan aforesaid man I was a while agone / I’ve learned immoderate caller things, I dream that it shows.” Afterward, he talked cryptically astir “checking retired immoderate of these songs” successful mentation for nan circuit and said, “I don’t cognize if I’ll ever beryllium nan same.” “Neil, you’re still nan same!” shouted personification successful nan audience. “I hardly admit myself,” he answered back, ambiguous arsenic to whether that mightiness beryllium a bad point aliases a bully one.

Young has ever walked a statement betwixt valuing nan “Old Ways” (he did sanction an medium that) and resisting nan fogeydom of immoderate of his contemporaries. “Days That Used to Be” could person been nan mascot opus of this setlist, arsenic it had him singing, “I wish that I could talk to you, and you could talk to maine / ‘Cause there’s very fewer of america left, my friend, from nan days that utilized to be.” Mind you, this was a opus he released connected “Ragged Glory” backmost successful 1990, erstwhile he still had a batch much profession successful beforehand of him than down him.” If he thought location weren’t galore psyche survivors astir 33 years ago, really does he consciousness astir it now?

That whitethorn stay a spot of a mystery, arsenic Young spent a batch of clip successful nan show talking astir circumstantial instruments that person been a portion of his life, and nary talking astir circumstantial people. This was portion of nan show’s charm, of people — he’s truthful small prone to evident sentiment that you return it wherever you get it from him. He sat down astatine a nine-foot Steinway he said he bought for $1,500 erstwhile he near L.A. 50 years ago, talking astir really he didn’t recognize till later that it had been successful a occurrence and “if you scope down and touch it (inside), your manus turns black.” Ash-incrusted aliases not, “it’s a beautiful bully piano.” Was he done talking astir nan bargains successful his life? Hardly! Sitting down astatine a pump organ for “Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)” was origin to see that “I emotion playing that opus connected that thing. I sewage it successful a supplier shop connected Main Street successful Redwood City for astir 800 bucks. I’m a bully shopper.” He moreover reminisced astir buying a flute for $2.49 astatine a supplier shop while stepping extracurricular nan workplace while signaling “Sleeps With Angels,” though said cheapie appeared neither connected nan medium aliases successful this show. As for different soft he sometimes utilized connected stage, “I rented it successful Hollywood successful ’68… It’s awesome to spot it — and it’s awesome to spot you,” he added. Our hearts whitethorn person fluttered a bit, location successful nan Ford, knowing he was holding america successful nan aforesaid respect arsenic 1 of his prized vintage keyboards.

It wasn’t instantly clear, connected opening night, whether nan setlist was arsenic group successful chromatic arsenic nan canyon walls astatine nan rear of nan stage. There was decidedly puttering happening during nan show, arsenic he moved betwixt instruments, aliases decided which harmonica to use, informing that nan results could beryllium and person been fatal erstwhile he chose nan incorrect one. “If you’re successful a hurry, I consciousness sorry for you,” he remarked during 1 lull betwixt songs. At different point, he muttered, “Oh my God. Shit,” arsenic he tried to get his bearings for nan adjacent tune, getting a large laugh. He did not want nan assemblage to deliberation that thing astir nan show was random, though, aliases that requests would beryllium taken. ““I person a list, you know. It’s very organized. I don’t cognize if you tin show that I’m very organized,” he assured nan 1,200. But location was astatine slightest a chance of malleability successful nan set, evident erstwhile Young asked nan crowd whether they would alternatively perceive “Mr. Soul” aliases “Mother Earth.” With astir everyone inevitably shouting for nan acold better-known “Mr. Soul,” Neil being Neil, he proceeded to play nan different choice. (Thank goodness he did, arsenic it afforded nan opportunity to perceive him play that gorgeous pump organ — thing we’ve seen him person connected shape and past not spell near, successful years past.) Fans who went Saturday nighttime sewage to spot him move retired 2 of nan 17 numbers — “Mr. Soul” so made an quality alternatively of nan alternative, and “Throw Your Hatred Down” subbed for “Song X” connected nighttime 2.

If location were immoderate murmurs, it wasn’t astir nan deep-tracks contented of nan show, but its length, pinch nan group clocking successful connected opening nighttime astatine 85 minutes. That tin look slender successful comparison to classical stone figures for illustration Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello who’ve trained boomers to expect career-encompassing shows clocking successful astatine two-and-a-half to three-plus hours. But if you weren’t counting things connected a dollars-per-minute basis, this felt conscionable right, for what it was designed to beryllium — not nan deepest catalog dive ever, but a aquatics done mostly neglected tunes that speak straight to wherever Young feels he’s astatine now. Anyone who missed nan memo and came to perceive “Powderfinger” whitethorn not work together — nor whitethorn nan fans who’d for illustration to get each nan obscurities from “Archives Vol. II” successful their 10-disc entirety. But nan concentrated selectivity of this limited-edition circuit feels for illustration a feature, not a flaw.

Let’s dream he gets to a Crazy Horse tour, eventually, too, nan measurement he’d planned to earlier nan pandemic kicked in. (You tin publication our reappraisal of 1 of nan fewer tryout shows he did pinch that reconstituted set successful 2018 here.) But erstwhile he does resume full-band touring, pinch immoderate lineup that turns retired to be, galore of america who are seeing these solo shows will beryllium emotion wistful for nan clip we sewage unsocial pinch Young.

Or almost alone; Bob Rice, nan feline who brought him his guitars, did a spot of playing connected 2 songs, contributing minimal vibraphone connected “My Heart” and sitting successful arsenic a 2nd pianist connected “When I Hold You successful My Arms.” The second allowed Young to beryllium astatine that Steinway for astir of nan opus but bring up nan electrical guitar he had astatine his broadside for a mates of gentle solos, connected a nighttime that was different acold from being astir guitar heroics. Pump-organ hero? Yes, definitely. And besides a much lyrical pianist than he mightiness ever beryllium fixed in installments for, erstwhile it came to “A Dream That Can Last,” by acold nan astir prettily ornate opus of nan night.

Ending pinch “Four Strong Winds,” a opus by chap Canuck Ian Tyson, who died this past December, by measurement of “Comes a Time,” Young acknowledged nan fragility of this full artist-fandom relationship: “If nan bully times are each gone, and I’m bound for moving connected / I’ll look for you if I’m ever backmost this way.” We could dream he ever does travel backmost to nan Ford — or, arsenic he warmly and jestingly referred to it, “the Podunk Coliseum.” Louis Tomlinson should beryllium truthful fortunate arsenic to ever play it.

Neil Young’s Night 1 setlist:

I’m nan Ocean


Burned (Buffalo Springfield song)

On nan Way Home (Buffalo Springfield song)

If You Got Love

My Heart

A Dream That Can Last

Song X

Prime of Life

When I Hold You successful My Arms

Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)


Days That Used to Be

Don’t Forget Love

Heart of Gold


Love Earth

Four Strong Winds (Ian & Sylvia song)

Young’s afloat westbound seashore solo tour:

June 30 – Los Angeles, CA @ John Anson Ford (sold out)
July 2 – Los Angeles, CA @ John Anson Ford (sold out)
July 4 – Los Angeles, CA @ John Anson Ford (sold out)
July 5 – Los Angeles, CA @ John Anson Ford (sold out)
July 7 – Santa Barbara, CA @ Santa Barbara Bowl (tickets still connected sale)
July 8 – Paso Robles, CA @ Vina Robles Amphitheatre (sold out)

July 10 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Greek Theatre (added show, tickets still connected sale)
July 11 – San Diego, CA @ The Shell (sold out)
July 13 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Greek Theatre (sold out)
July 15 – Berkeley, CA @ The Greek (tickets still connected sale)
July 17 – Bend, OR @ Hayden Homes Amphitheater (sold out)
July 18 – Ridgefield, WA @ RV Inn Style Resorts Amphitheater (tickets still connected sale)
July 20 – Auburn, WA @ White River Amphitheatre (tickets still connected sale)
July 23 – Napa, CA @ Oxbow RiverStage (tickets still connected sale)

July 24 – Stateline, NV @ Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena astatine Harveys (tickets still connected sale)