Concert Review: Neil Young

Photo by Jonathan Gao
Photo by Jonathan Gao

Young offered his audience three hours of inspired musicianship representative of an illustrious career.

Date: October 13
Location: RIMAC Arena
Rating: 4.0/5.0

RIMAC Arena is hardly St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s not even Shea Stadium. And yet the size and aesthetics of the venue are irrelevant when the public loves you, and the Neil Young faithful were out in full force to hear an icon. After all, he was on the ground level of Los Angeles folk rockers Buffalo Springfield, he partook in one of the greatest of super groups in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, while conducting a solo career that has gone on for well-nigh 50 years. As far as creative output, he is second only to Bob Dylan: part folk poet, part electric-rock god. That deserves respect.

His fanbase wouldn’t be disappointed, as he mollified them with ambient classics like ”After the Gold Rush,” “Heart of Gold,” and “Old Man.” Young’s bellowing of “rock and roll can never die,” from “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” was met with thunderous approval. It was a brilliant opening maneuver that satiated the public so they could settle in for the full night ahead. The vast contingent of baby boomers seemed filled with nostalgia, and judging by the demographic, there were undoubtedly some Dead Heads and maybe a few Woodstock vets who came out to commune with their hero. The catchy indie-pop of the show’s opener, Jenny Lewis, was nice to whet the appetite, but Young was without a doubt the real magnet pulling in the public.

As the concert hit its stride, the marijuana smoke began wafting through the air and the Bud Light was ubiquitous. Honestly, Young doesn’t say much on stage, but it hardly matters. Every extended harmonica solo was a gift, and every timeless lyrical protest that he’s penned was offered up to his audience. He switched between acoustic and electric arrangements agilely with the assistance of his spirited band Promise of The Real, who seemed just as excited as the masses to be rocking with a legend.

For man nearly 70 years old, Young still has it, and his vocal cords have not noticeably deteriorated. He perfectly employs that Canadian drawl that is somehow melodic in a raw, earthy sort of way. It epitomizes his songs about Mother Nature — about doing our utmost to cultivate the earth around us.

Presumably, his latest experimental endeavor, “The Monsanto Years,” will not tickle everyone’s fancy with its constant mention of the corporation’s villainy, but it does give course to a few catchy satires like “People Want to Hear About Love.”

Above all, the show felt like an ethereal odyssey that ebbed and flowed between acoustic folk and the dizzying riffs of unadulterated rock n’ roll. With a set list that went well over three hours, there was ample time allotted for layered guitar sessions, including a mind-numbing 20-minute rendition of “Down by the River.” But, first and foremost, this was a rock concert and Young certainly gave us what we paid for. There’s nothing quite like “Rocking in the Free World” with one of the world’s virtuoso performers. He’s reached the apex of artistic expression, and he’s not about to be silenced anytime soon.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The UCSD Guardian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *