BY JEN MAY & ELIZABETH BARKER
JEN (WHO SAW NEIL & PATTI ON NOVEMBER 27 AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN): This was my first time seeing Neil Young. I love Neil Young. I have VERY LITTLE criticism here. My love may be blinding or maybe Neil is just in a really excellent and generous place right now.
LIZ (WHO SAW NEIL & PATTI ON NOVEMBER 26 AT THE BOSTON GARDEN): This was my second time seeing Neil Young! The first time was 15 years ago, as part of the H.O.R.D.E. festival. But back then I was a dumb teenager who didn't care about Neil Young, and this sweet dude I had a crush on was there, so for most of Neil's set I just hung out with the dude and didn't pay attention to Neil. I too have very little criticism of my November 2012 Neiler experience. I too am full of love.
HERE IS A LIST OF OUR FAVORITE NEIL MOMENTS & THINGS:
(Liz's Neil show, shortly before Patti Smith came on)
i. How they played all of "A Day In The Life" by The Beatles just before Neil came out. I got wicked emotional. At first I was scared they were just going to play the beginning and cut it off before Paul's part but, no, of course Neil let the entire song play. It reminded me of when I went to see U2 a month after September 11th and before they came out they played all of "All You Need Is Love" and I totally cried and it was so cathartic. I love The Beatles. I love when other bands I love do a great job of using The Beatles for emotional manipulation. (Liz)
ii. Fabulous stage design. The signature Neil Giant Amps. Cute. Love it. The stage crew in lab coats or construction outfits? Mega love it. My dad saw Neil in 1978 (I think), he had third row seats. Whenever he talks about the show he talks about the hooded red eyed demons that dragged out the prop amps. I love how Neil puts in effort to make even the stage setup be something unforgettable. During "Born in Ontario" when there was an organ on stage being played by no one but was in the spotlight during the organ solos? Oh my god. I was weirdly super into trash paper blowing around during the noise freak out of "Walk Like a Giant." He's so visual! Neil follows is heart, which is really respectable. He goes with it even if the idea is totally lame, like when he had a woman carrying a guitar case slowly wander the stage during "Singer Without a Song." That was deeply uncool. (Jen)
iii. When I talked to my dad the next day he asked, "Was he wearing a flannel?" Of course he was. (Jen)
(Jen's Neil show)
iv. I've had "Powderfinger" in my head often since seeing Neil. I think the lines "Shelter me from the powder and the finger" are really sad and beautiful and scary. The last verse of the song is so moving. (Jen)
v. The song that hit me hardest was probably "Mr. Soul." I love how it sounds even more intensely rip-off-y of "Satisfaction" when they play it live, but what got me most were the words. The words are so dark and fucked-up. The line that goes "She said 'You're strange, but don't change' and I let her" is way sinister; it reminds me of so many dudes I used to be into. And right now I'm really into making everything I care about somehow apply to Kurt Cobain, so when Neil sang "Stick around while the clown who is sick does the trick of disaster," I decided that 1967 Neil was psychic about Kurt. Also, I just researched everything and apparently "Mr. Soul" was recorded just about a month before Kurt Cobain was born -- coincidence? I THINK NOT. (Liz)
vi. I listened to Live Rust a few days before the concert. I was thinking somewhat extensively about the rain part before he plays the "Needle and the Damage Done." Thinking about the rain and thunder sounds being really emotional but also about Neil being so goofily positive about the rain, and how everyone there in the rain probably needed that. I felt caught off guard when the thunder and rain sounds started going off in MSG. These are sounds I'm used to hearing and thinking about in private in my room or my studio. I felt for a minute like my thoughts and life were being projected to everyone there, even though I realize this makes actually no sense. (Jen)
vii. The guy sitting next to me got up to get beers about 5-6 times during Neil's set. Chill out for a minute, dude. Obviously, he was getting more and more wasted throughout the set. I kind of got the impression he had no idea where he was after a while and he kept turning his head quickly to me in that way people do before they are going to speak to you. I never looked back, I cannot deal with that. I think he was with his parents and they were really pissed about this show. The dad kept booing and screaming "REFUND!!" because Neil was just playing "noise." Loser. (Jen)
viii. We had a booing person next to us too! It was some woman. I didn't hear her, but my brother told me how she kept booing Neil anytime he said "fuck" during "Fuckin' Up." Can you even conceive of loving Neil Young enough to pay a good amount of money to see him in concert, but then booing him for saying "fuck"? That is so weird and so comical! I'd never heard "Fuckin' Up" before and it's one of my three favorite songs right now. I really love this video of Neiler playing it with Pearl Jam in 1995:
BTW, I feel like Eddie Vedder in that video and I are basically the same person. I relate so much to his hair texture and to his "exuberant background player" vibe. (Liz)
ix. The noise feedback freakout part of "Walk Like a Giant" was a highpoint for me. I kinda wish it was about 20 minutes longer. I could watch Neil stick is arm in his giant fake amp to reach the knobs of his giant real amp for maybe an hour? (Jen)
x. At one point in "Hey Hey My My," Neil sang the words as "Hey hey, my my/ROCK AND ROLL IS HERE TO STAY" and you could tell he was so stoked on that. Total highpoint. So like Neil to fuck up the rhyme on purpose, and to be a big hotshot about it. Another cool thing about rock and roll is that he dedicated "Cinnamon Girl" to the believers and said that later on there'd be a song for the doubters. From his tone, you got the feeling that Neiler really hates the doubters. I hate the doubters too. When I'm in the same room as Neil Young and/or Patti Smith, or just fully present in listening to Neil Young and/or Patti Smith, it's completely understood that I'll be a believer forever. So thanks, you guys. (Liz)
AND A COUPLE FAVORITE MOMENTS & THINGS ABOUT PATTI SMITH:
JEN: I was really nervous about missing Patti Smith (and really nervous about anything I’ve ever encountered in my life) so we got there psychotically early. The only other people in our section were the people sitting next to Alan. The guy already had his binoculars out, so I feel like it is safe to say we got there at Mega Nerd Hour.
LIZ: The guy next to me also had his binoculars out during Patti Smith's set! He shared them with me and my brother; it was so nice. This was my eleventh time seeing Patti Smith and it was so strange to be so far away from her, but she did a cool job of being "Patti Smith, The Abridged Version." (She ended the set with "Gloria" instead of "Rock And Roll Nigger," for instance, which I feel like was a good call.) My brother had seen neither Neil or Patti before, he's only 23, and on the way into the Boston Garden he said something to me about "oh you and your lady-musicians and your long-haired Canadians" and it was so funny and we had so much fun. Neil + Patti + fam + home was the most fun beginning to the end of this beautiful and scrappy year of ours. Neil and Patti forever & ever.