Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Neil Young - Live at Massey Hall (Reprise, 2007)

Toronto's Massey Hall has seen many special concerts over the years and this solo concert from native son Neil Young recorded on January 19, 1971 was no exception. Young's popularity was peaking at this time, on tour between two of his most commercially successful LPs, After the Gold Rush and Harvest. This concert, an archival release from Young's own collection is a low key and respectful affair, in which he previews many of the songs from upcoming albums and also provides lengthy spoken introductions to individual songs. Highlights are many, but include the poignant "Helpless" which is played on guitar instead of it's usual piano accompaniment. Two of Young's more topical songs of the time receive very good performances, the Kent State shooting commentary "Ohio" and the haunting cautionary tale of drug use "The Needle and the Damage Done." It's certainly not all doom and gloom, though. "Dance, Dance, Dance" and "Don't Let It Bring You Down" keep the mood light and the pace upbeat. Finally, hearing the twin anthems "Cowgirl in the Sand" and "Down By the River" stripped down to solo acoustic performances is very intriguing. This is an album of very good and consistent performances that will be enjoyed by both longtime Young fans and neophytes.

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