Sound: I was very anxious to see Neil Young live (he was the reason I bought a ticket for the Belgian Rock Werchter festival, where I saw him), and my anxiety became even bigger when he waited 20 minutes to get onstage. But when he got up onstage 20 minutes late with Old Black and openend with a thundering version of Love and only love, this feeling disappeared completely! At sixty, Neil Young rocked out all the young bands playing the festival that day. His band did look a bit old and dull, but boy, they can play! The sound quality was great (especially for a festival), so I guess they used the 20 extra minutes of soundcheck very good; and we got to see some beautiful instruments as well: as mentioned before, he used Old Black a lot (I think Gibson should really make a Neil Young signature), and he also played Hank, the Martin dreadnought that belonged to Hank Williams, a white Gretsch, a Gold top with the same pickup layout as Old Black and a Les Paul Junior. // 10
Perfomance: It was pretty clear that Neil was in a good mood, he talked to the audience ("I've played here some years ago. Love what you've done with the place"), and played a great set, with two new songs, two covers, some album tracks and a great deal of hits. This was the set list:
01. Love And Only Love - great performance, he really got the audience with him from the start.
02. Hey Hey, My My (Out Of The Blue) - a great singalong moment, and great soloing from Neil.
03. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere - a slower song, awesome playing from the whole band.
04. Spirit Road - a song from his new album, which I didn't know.
05. When You Dance, I Can Really Love - great harmonies on this one.
06. F--kin' Up - again, great soloing on this very rocking performance.
07. All Along The Watchtower - somewhere, Hendrix was smiling.
08. Oh, Lonesome Me - the beginning of the acoustic intermezzo.
09. Mother Earth - very nice, Neil solo on the church organ.
10. The Needle & The Damage Done - great version, great singalong moment.
11. Unknown Legend - the highlight of the acoustic part; a great, more narrative song.
12. Heart Of Gold - another campfire singalong moment.
13. Old Man - glad he put this one in, nice playing from Neil.
14. Get Back To The Country - an enjoyable electric intro to the great electric final.
15. Words - played on the white Gretsch, great time changes, the atmosphere in the audience was fantastic here.
16. No Hidden Path - he stretched it a little too much in my opinion, but nevertheless an awesome performance.
17. A Day In The Life - I think they let him play only one Encore because they were already running late for the next performer, but he did give this Beatles cover all he got in store: great singing, nice organ work from Ben Keith, and Neil bust all his strings in the last crescendo section!
The concert itself was great, good band, very good singing and playing from Neil, and I think his set list was brilliant: he doesn't play all his hits (I'm glad he didn't put in Rockin' in the free world), and his grand finale was a new song, which is quite bold thing to do, but he got away with it. I didn't quite get the painting thing though: for every song, a painter made a painting with the title somewhere in the back of the stage, which was all very neat, but it did remind me a bit of the "Now playing," signs in record stores. I didn't quite get the deeper meaning of it. // 9
Overall Impression: Neil performed as a part of the Rock Werchter festival, which is the most important summer festival here in Belgium. I only got a ticket for Friday (because of Neil), and payed 75 for it. The Belgian bands were very good; great performances of The Blackbox Revelation and Zita Swoon, but the others weren't really my cup of tea: Duffy, Jay-Z, and I got quite disappointed in The Verve. The thing I love most about the show was the daring set list, with a lot of more recent songs, and a new song as "Big Number", although he luckily didn't abandon his hits (Hey Hey, My My). The thing I wasn't particularly fond of was the painter. If I ever get a chance to see Neil again for a reasonable price, I will (He came here in the fall, but that costed J120, which is way out of my reach). If you get a chance to see Neil on his summer tour: go! It will be one of the best concerts you'll ever see! // 10