Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Neil Young, Wells Fargo Theatre 11/5

From Hank To Hendrix
Ambulance Blues
Sad Movies
A Man Needs A Maid (Neil on piano and organ)
No One Seems To Know (piano)
After The Gold Rush (piano)
Mellow My Mind (6 String Banjo)
Love Art Blues
Love Is A Rose
Heart Of Gold

The Loner
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Dirty Old Man
Spirit Road
Bad Fog Of Loneliness
Oh, Lonesome Me (Neil on acoustic)
The Believer (Neil on acoustic)
No Hidden Path

Cinnamon Girl
Like A Hurricane

Headlights blind me as I stand on the median, watching cars fly past. The temperature reminds me that it is, in fact, November already. I quickly dart across the street at the first break in traffic. I wait in the frigid darkness for 20 minutes for a late bus crammed with annoyed people in suits, just released from their jobs. In no time I am in LoDo (downtown Denver). They are preparing for the Starz Film Festival next week, so strings of white bulbs hang suspended over the sparsely populated streets. Well to do yuppies look up from their $60/plate dinners and glare as I walk past restaurant windows. I am reminded of On The Road, and I wonder how Jack would react to how these streets have changed.

As I get closer to the venue, I am enveloped in a substantial herd following the arrows directing us to the “proper” entrance. The place reminds me of the Denver airport exterior; grey concrete and cold florescent lights illuminate the impersonal path. We are soon inside. The crowd has a mellow look to them, not unlike the restaurant patrons. Most opt to stand in the lobby and sip martinis for the opening act. (They were not allowed to bring their drinks into the theatre.)

My ticket said row 6, and my seat was in the 6th row………of the second section (which is actually the 3rd section) so I ended up being in row 25 or so, but I didn’t feel that I needed to see every wrinkle on the guy’s face, so I wasn’t disappointed. It was an aisle seat, so I had that to my advantage.
Pegi Young was the opener, and I must say, I was completely unimpressed. It wasn’t terrible, but it was very average at best. Catchy couple of tunes, relatively competent musicians, but I’ve seen it a hundred times at “heritage festivals” during the summer in countless small towns the country over. The most interesting to me was a song w/ an electric cittern, but as soon as they finished, she apologized for the song. I really don’t like it when performers do that. I liked it just fine before she said anything. Whereas Elvis’ opening set flew by in an instant a couple of weeks ago, this opener seemed to drag on and on. I half envied those drinking in the lobby.

Neil eventually took the stage to polite applause. Very few NEEEEEEEEEIIILLLLLs. For as big as the room was, I was surprised by the quality of the sound. He started things off w/ Hank to Hendrix, which was nice, but I was more excited for Ambulance Blues, which came next. His voice was strong and clear, which can be a refreshing change ;) . He moved over to piano for Maid, but also included some organ, which was very annoying and really did not need to be included. I smiled to think I would have to write that last sentence on a Dylan board haha. Crowd banter was kept to a minimum, but he didn’t seem to be in too bad of a mood. He started to play something, then said, “Maybe I’ll play that one later,” before picking up a 6 string banjo.

The crowd stayed in their seats for the whole acoustic set, which could be understandable. Overall, they were a very quiet crowd. Perhaps a bit too quiet.

When Neil returned with band, they gave him a brief standing ovation before retuning to their seats. About 50 or so people stayed standing for the next couple songs. I moved into the aisle so as not to block the view of the folks around me, though I doubt it would have mattered; I could have sworn they were asleep. I was happy to hear Dirty Old Man, followed by Spirit Road, which are my two favorite songs from the new album. The standing folks slowly dropped back into their seats for the next few songs, and I did so as well, so as not to be the only one up.
During the electric set, there was a man who brought large paintings depicting the title of the song being performed and set them up on an easel stage left. He could be seen behind the band working on new paintings as they played. He started a green one that I was really looking forward to seeing what it became, but it was never used.

The band broke into a rockin’ No Hidden Path, and I couldn’t sit any longer. I moved back into the aisle and danced throughout the song. Neil had been dancing around all throughout the electric set, and I figured if a balding 61 year old could do it, so too could I. When the song started, there were 3 other people standing, and while some others did stand for parts, only one other kid, down near the front doing some weird 90 degree jogging/twist thing sorta dance, stayed standing throughout the song. There was a woman a couple rows behind me who started dancing in the aisle in about the middle and stayed up till the end, but other then that, I was amazed at how impersonal and out of it the crowd was.
They did eventually all stand for the two song encore, but it seemed they did it only out of obligation. The folks from the nosebleeds that came down just sorta leaned apathetically against the handrails in the aisle. I kept track of the setlist after every song, and you’d think I was chanting a mystical incantation with all the strange looks I kept getting. Strange crowd.

When the show was finally over, everyone seemed more then happy to leave. When I got outside, I checked my watch. 11.56. I had 4 minutes to get to the bus station roughly 10 blocks away, lest I wait for another hour for the midnight bus. I’ve done that; it’s less than desirable, so I tore down the deserted street. The cold air stung my lungs, but it was completely worth it when I got to the bottom of the stairs to find my bus loading its first passenger! I dropped down into a seat, intending to silently reflect (and catch my breath haha), when I became aware that the folks behind me were talking about the show. So, for the next hour, I got to talk to some hardcore Young fans, which was a treat. (Though I do wonder how they got to the station w/o full out running).

All in all, it was a very good show, and I’d recommend going if you ever get the chance. The only minor disappointment was that they didn’t play Hey Hey, but other then that it was a great show.

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