Monday, June 30, 2008

Review: Neil Young Malahide Castle, Dublin 29th June 2008


This was my first time seeing Neil live and so it was a huge thrill to finally see him play. This was tempered however by the set that he played and also the awful sound. First off, the set.

Opening with an approx 10min version of Love and Only Love is not exactly the opener I was expecting but since I love that song I was delighted to hear it. However, as the first few songs continued it was very obvious that this concert was going to be hard work for even the most dedicated fan, let alone the casual fan, of whom there were of course plenty in an outdoor gig. The extended jams would have worked in a smaller venue but outdoor, they were largely lost on the audience.

Things definitely took a turn for the better with Hey Hey, My My followed by a fantastic stretch of Too Far Gone, Oh Lonesome Me, Needle and The Damage Done, Unknown Legend and Old Man. Following this stretch he went back into extended jam mode with Words. Then came the song that unfortunately most people will remember most about the gig. A 27 minute version of No Hidden Path would have been extremely tough going in somewhere like Vicar Street. Personally, in Malahide Castle it turned laughable.

Ending the main set with that, he came back out and played a cover of A Day in The Life and then walked off stage. It certainly wasn't the best way to end it but probably appropriate for the concert that preceded it.

It must be mentioned that it wasn't helped by the terrible sound. The music was extremely muffled and Neil's vocals weren't very strong either. It did slightly improve as the gig went on but since a lot of the songs involved extensive jamming, not being able to hear the guitars properly is obviously a major problem.

Neil didn't say much during the concert, a few generic 'glad to be here' type comments. Overall, I would sum it up as could have been better. I'm all for artists like Young not turning into a glorified jukebox and testing the crowd. A balance has to be struck though in a concert the size of last night and I don't think that balance was found. When Young is facing his guitarists for long stretches, with his back to the audience you couldn't help but feel outside of the whole event.

Maybe because after seeing Springsteen two days before, my expectation of what a show should be like were too big but I was definitely hoping for a bit more last night. That being said, there was a fantastic stretch of songs that were great to see and for that 45 mins or so it was one of the best concerts I've seen in a while. If this had been in the Olympia or Vicar Street, it would have been significantly better. On the way home on the Dart, a few people broke into singing 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart'. It summed up the night pretty well for me, the fans were there but Neil didn't make it easy for us.

Setlist

Love And Only Love
I've Been Waiting For You
Mr. Soul
Spirit Road
Powderfinger
Hey Hey, My My
Too Far Gone
Oh, Lonesome Me
Mother Earth
The Needle And The Damage Done
Unknown Legend
Old Man
Get Back To The Country
Words
No Hidden Path

A Day In The Life


Hey Hey, My My

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can't agree at all. Like a lot of the Neil Young fans there I didn't know all the songs he played (he has over 150 in his repetoire after all) but I thought it was great that even when you didn't know the song you could still love the song. From where I was standing, I could hear every word Neil sang and the sound was about as near perfect as any gig I've ever been at. 'Powderfinger' and 'Old man' were sung and played as perfect as if you were listening to a cd with the advantage of crowd participation. I and most others there could have done with 'rockin' in the free world' before Neil departed but that aside it was a fantastic gig. Neil seems to be getting even better with age.

Seánaí said...

Whoaa!! What gig were you at?? I ws just to the left of the sound desk - sound was perfect! way better than the sound at springsteen in the rds (too quiet anyone?). As for the material, i was blown away. i dont know all his material but i wasnt expecting half as many 'hits' as we got. This was one of the best gigs iv ever been at. it was rockin! neil didn't pause for breath from start to finish. as for the extended guitar jams? highlight of my night. brilliant gig. really surprised with this review cus i thought the crowd were going nuts - I was anyway! =o)

Neil said...

Out of interest, where were you standing? Maybe it was just where I was standing (not too far from the pit to the right of the stage) that the sound wasn't as good. Old Man was a definite highlight. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Reviews of gigs are always highly subjective.

Anonymous said...

I am a big fan but was hugely disappointed with the whole concert. Poor Sound, Excessive guitar solos (30 mins of "No Hidden Path", give me a break.)He NEVER really interacted with the audience at all. The look on the faces of the whole crowd was the same as if they were looking at a train wreck. The whole experience was an expensive waste of time.
Crowd control both before and after the concert was also poor. Artists take note -

Neil said...

Seánaí - Again as I've said, reviews are quite subjective. I was never expecting a string of hits and personally I was delighted to get 'Hey Hey, My My', 'Old Man' 'Needle and The Damage Done'. I just felt it would have been a gig much better suited to indoor, which he's been doing previously (think that was his first outdoor gig of the tour) I'll stand over my comments on the sound, but obviously it wasn't that bad everywhere. Anyone else think the sound was bad?

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with everything said. I wouldn't go so far as to say really disappointed, but let's say Leonard Cohen in Kilmainham was an A1, Neil Young last night was maybe a B1, of course it was great to see a true legend live and in the flesh, and i could appreciate the musicianship. would love to have seen this gig in a small venue. He looked unhappy to be there, i was about 5 people back from the front, and didn't feel any connection, imagine what it was like for people towards the back, must have been hard work.
The gig was advertised on radio all the way with a selection of greatest hits promised, to end with not playing Rockin in the free world and storming off, just says a lot.
In my opinion, if it wasn't Neil Young, a lot of people would have left a lot earlier, i think respect kept a lot of people where they were and restrained any booing or negative reaction. the crowd to me seemed up for it, but never got the chance to get up for it.
Funnily enough i think tonights gig in the circus in cork will be better suited to him. I saw Roger waters there a few years back, (sorry for all the concert dropping!) and my first choice was to see Mr. Young there tonight but tickets were gone. i'd like to hear reactions from there.
To sum up, great to have seen him in the flesh, but it was just missing something special.
Ger

henryporter said...

My first time seeing Neil as well and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it - Neil, the band, the sound, the crowd and the weather all seemed to be perfect last night. Neils extended guitar solos are legendary and once again I think he showed why he's way above the rest - I had been to Radiohead a month back at the same venue and they were frankly mediocre in comparison - I'm very jealous of the people who scored tickets for Cork; if Neil is as much on form there as he was in Malahide then they're in for a real treat.

seabass said...

Just read your review of the gig......your first time to see or hear him live......in all honesty i think you should review your review.being a long time fan ,my fourth time to see him live,i was a bit sceptical because without crazy horse you expect mostly acoustic and tracks from the latest album,but last nights preformance blew most of the crowd away,brilliant the place rocked.the sound was'nt to bad......nobody noticed anyway we were to busy rocking.

Anonymous said...

Have to say that the sound did swirl around a lot but that was down to the weather conditions. At the back the sound sometimes didn't carry, in front of the pit it got better & at the front you could hear every bit of distortion that Neil was wringing out of his instrument (Ooh eer - missus)

Daire said...

I agree to some extent with the reviewer but this was never gonna be 'one for the family'. He has played 'No Hidden Path' for over 20 minutes at every show this year so a little pre-show research would've alleviated any disappointment there (I even planned my pee break for about 10 minutes in). Hearing 'Powderfinger' and 'Hey Hey, My My' should've satisfied any fan of the Old Black side of Neil and the acoustic fans got 'Old Man' and 'The Needle...' (wonderfully timed at sun set). Personally, I loved every minute of it. He plays what he feels when he feels it; if you want a Greatest Hits show then go see the Rolling Stones, but Neil Young is a living, breathing artist who, at 62, has once again proved how vital he is.

Anonymous said...

I agree to some extent with the reviewer but this was never gonna be 'one for the family'. He has played 'No Hidden Path' for over 20 minutes at every show this year so a little pre-show research would've alleviated any disappointment there (I even planned my pee break for about 10 minutes in). Hearing 'Powderfinger' and 'Hey Hey, My My' should've satisfied any fan of the Old Black side of Neil and the acoustic fans got 'Old Man' and 'The Needle...' (wonderfully timed at sun set). Personally, I loved every minute of it. He plays what he feels when he feels it; if you want a Greatest Hits show then go see the Rolling Stones, but Neil Young is a living, breathing artist who, at 62, has once again proved how vital he is.
Daire.

Anonymous said...

I was at the back and thought the sound was excellent. Saw the Main Man in Slane 15 years ago, and last night discovered that he, if anything, has improved with age. The energy of his guitar trashing was incredible. His voice hasn't diminshed one bit. I'm a fan, and thought it was class to hear him play songs that you wouldn't have expected him to play. Tough on anyone who was expecting Greatest Hits - he played a couple of newish songs last night that I'd never heard and I loved them, particularly the 30-minuter. He's not great on crowd interaction, but sure we know that. I was there to watch and listen to a master at work, not to hear small talk. I thought his stage exit was pure class - wrecked his quitar and just walked off.

Marvellous show, marvellous.

Anonymous said...

i think seabass knows what hes talking about. couldnt be more pleased with the set-list and i happened to love extended jams- which anyone who had being checking out the reviews of previous gigs would have known he was going to do. And in what world do u live in thinking he stormed off at the end, hes only being doing 1 encore- and "a day in the life" was amazing with neil playing the guitar so furiously he broke pretty much all of the strings- that was a great finish. Also i was suprised of the confused faces during "mr soul"- a highlight 4 me, and far from obscure.

Anonymous said...

Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense. Last night was an absolutely fabulous gig. Whant was there not to love. From were I was standing (to the right of the sound desk)the sound absolutely blew me away. Neil had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Yeah sure there were songs that I wish had been included everyone has their own favourites but what he played was brillant and the extended guitar jams just awesome. To check for yourself tune into Rust Radio at the weekend. it is playing al the gigs on the European Tour and Malahide will probably be played this week end.

Anonymous said...

I think the reviewer's got it down,alas, for this night. Let's be real: there is a tendency among hard core Neil Young fans(of whom I am one, for sure)to turn a blind eye to some of the excesses of his musical style, especially the post-1990 very-much--extended, and not quite transcendent, guitar solos. I heard 'No Hidden Path' twice in Amsterdam last February; one of them was just horrible, Neil searching for a loophole in his own guitar labyrinth without finding one, the other one was indeed somewhat transcendent but still far, far too long. Let's not be prudes about it: sometimes, these extended jams juct suck!

Anonymous said...

"It must be mentioned that it wasn't helped by the terrible sound. The music was extremely muffled and Neil's vocals weren't very strong either. It did slightly improve as the gig went on but since a lot of the songs involved extensive jamming, not being able to hear the guitars properly is obviously a major problem."

Are you from Newport Folk Festival '65 by any chance?

Fred said...

Marvellous concert. Young really put his heart into the playing and the singing. Yeah, the guitar soloes are too long, yeah, he over-indulges, but that`s Neil Young. The heavy metal sounds must have mystified fans of Harvest Moon. Old Man was magnificent.

Anonymous said...

I have also got to say i dont agree with the main review. As a life long Neil Young fan and having seeing him a few times down the years, this was the best gig of his ive been too. I seen him in Vicar street where he sang that awful album Greendale in full. This setlist had a lot of old stuff, as you rightly pointed out the Acoustic set was brilliant. If you thought this concert was a let down and lost the crowd you should have been at Eric Clapton the previous week in the same venue. I was there and it was terrible. Clapton had no energy/interest compared to Neil who really rocked the place. I do agree on one thing, the 30 minute Hidden path track was just crazy. Its off his latest album so not even one the fans would have been really familiar with. If he had of done a 10 minute version and then maybe Cortez the killer and like a hurricane instead it would have been one of the best gigs ive been to in a long time. The sound was grand where i was which was out to the left of the stage back a quite a bit, it did swirl with the weather the odd time as a previous review pointed out. Anyway as a life long Beatles fanatic, I loved the ending and got the dart back home happily which i have to also say, for once Irish rail did something properly and very organised to get the fans out of Malahide

Michael said...

Best gig I have seen in last ten years, dont understand your disappointment. Setlist perfect mix of new and old material. Would you expect anything less than extended jams at a Neil Young concert. How many others can solo for ten to twelve minutes and not repeat himself? Thought the sound was fantastic for an outdoor gig. Mother earth was exceptional

JOEY said...

Hey guys! If you 'are' NY fans, then i cannot understand why the Springsteen comparsisions? Or sound etc... I too was near the stage, sound was perfectly-muffled haha, but hey its grunge, its Neil. What a gig. But hey rockNroll will never die. What other guy opens with a 10 guitar solo:)One of the best gigs ever for the sheer unpredictabililty!Plus to close with a Beatles classic, hey what could he add after that only walk away and leave us to ponder... A true legend. Peace to you all...

Neil said...

Some interesting comments and I'm glad that a lot of people enjoyed it. I've listened to a lot of Neil Young bootlegs from all over his career and I'll download the show from last night and who knows maybe I'll start to appreciate it a bit more. Anybody else who wants to download it can do so from here if you have an account on Dime http://www.dimeadozen.org/torrents-details.php?id=203279 .

Anonymous said...

First seen NY in 1987 and every gig in Ireland since .Last night was in top 3 but a disappointing end . A Neil Young concert can be a spiritual experience but last night fell short of that.I enjoyed it but all the ingredients were not there.Neil and the band were brillant, the setting and the weather were good .BUT Neil was playing for himself almost selfish .Part of the problem was the crowd .It seemed to me that we only wanted to hear the classics and appreciated them when they came, but didnt respond to anything else.I am a huge fan and find it hard to criicise a ledgend but he could have worked us better.There was for example no explination about the paintings (interesting story and will all be for sale in the future) etc.Good gig but not great .Shared blame but mostly us .

Kelly said...

I guess I have to agree. I've been trying to catch Neil live for years, so obviously I was delighted to hear so many of the big hits but a little bit disappointed there was so little acoustic and the extended solo frankly got tedious.... 27 mins?? that's a good 3 or 4 more songs we missed out on right there, that being said long may he run! He's no spring chicken but he's still got it!

Anonymous said...

Great gig,great weather for Ireland and super location. Crowd and atmosphere were so relaxed.Somewhat sudden end, fair enough. As a previous poster said time your tea/bar break ten minutes into 'No Hidden Path' and do your research before you go.Think the comparisons with Springsteen relate to the demographic.Went to both gigs and really enjoyed Neil in Malahide. think he will be better in Cork tonight in the more intimate setting as he will prefer it himself. He played loads of old stuff, I chatted to some of the grey ponytail crowd and they were in heaven!

Ross said...

First time seeing Mr Young, and while he didn't play everything I would liked to have heard, I wouldn't expect him to come out and play a greatest hits set. Everyone will always have set ideas and expectations of what they want played. Only a recent fan, so admittedly didn't know some of the songs, but enjoyed the whole gig. The encore was slightly unexpected but overall a great gig. Was in the pit for it, the sound was perfect from where we were standing, only negative point was we could have had an extra 5/6 songs if there hadn't been a gap of an hour after The Frames...and the 27 minute jam was amazing but felt the crowd starting to wane...overall though great first experience!

Anonymous said...

The review was not critical enough for me. We were further away from the stage and the sound was very poor. The boring, over extended, self indulgent lead guitar solos(???) were boring, boring, boring. The atmosphere was dreadful. We left early and when we heard him start up a day in the life, walking towards the train station on our way out, we laughed and were only sorry that we hadn't left earlier. We sacrificed seeing the cup final to see him live and what a mistake that was. Never again will I buy a Neil Young concert ticket.

Anonymous said...

The review was not critical enough for me. We were further away from the stage and the sound was very poor. The boring, over extended, self indulgent lead guitar solos(???) were boring, boring, boring. The atmosphere was dreadful. We left early and when we heard him start up a day in the life, walking towards the train station on our way out, we laughed and were only sorry that we hadn't left earlier. We sacrificed seeing the cup final to see him live and what a mistake that was. Never again will I buy a Neil Young concert ticket.

PSYCHOMUTHAFOLKER said...

Shit hot show. Dunno where some of you were but you were obviously not stood where I was. OK, I've been a NY fan for 35 years so I'm a bit biased, nevertheless, this was the best concert I've been to for many years. Great choice of songs, the usual extended jams, and.....paintings!

King Decadence said...

What a depraved and decadent night.. Though no fault of Neils. It was truly the curse of Pigger in full flight, and i'm sorry if this is not a valid comment, but it needs to be said. We found the cost of freedom, and it was freedom itself.

Anonymous said...

Hello...

I thought the concert was great. I've seen NY several times over the years. He's always going to be different , changing the set from night to night ,and thats all part of attending his concerts. I was , by choice, stood well near the back and didnt really notice any problems with the sound. Yes the wind did blow a bit but it was an outside show so thats to be expected. Finishing with "A Day in the Life" was the highlight for me.Totally unexpected , and all in all a great end to a perfect day.

Brian said...

Sound was excellent i thought. Neil was rockin' for the 1st 4 songs and i really enjoyed it. However he really did take the piss with that 27 min song containing a 20min solo. Before it was over we decided to head off and beat the traffic rather than stay for another bout of that muck. But all in all we enjoyed it. Never seen as many 40 & 50 year old people off their faces!!

Rick said...

I cant agree at all with the main post here. This is the 2nd time I've seen Neil and while my heart lies with his more country style music I have to admit I was blown away. Neil and the band Rocked. To think this is essentially the same band that made Prairie Wind!! It was a total treat to hear some of these tracks such as Powderfinger and Out of the Blue (Hey Hey ,My My)and to hear these set alongside Oh Lonesome Me and Unknown Legend. What more could we have asked for. Any Neil Young show could have consisted of an entirely different tracklist given the wealth of material he has but you couldn't expect it to be much better that this gig. Reminded me of being 15 and getting blown away by Neil for the 1st time!!!
"Everybodys going out and having fun, Im a fool for stayin home and havin' none........"

Long Live Neil!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I was to the right of the stage and the sound was perfect. I'm not exaggerating but I could hear every word that Neil sang. This guy has well over 40 albums, almost died a few years ago from an aneurism and we were just so lucky to be in the presence of such greatness. Even the biggest fan in the world wouldn't have known every song but to me it didn't matter. You can appreciate and love a Neil Young song on first listening. I loved 'Old Man', 'needle..', 'unknown hero' infact everything I heard. The 27 minute song from his new album nearly blew my mind. Superb. Almost like watching the ghost of Hendrix in front of me. The end was sudden and puzzling...a bit like the end of the Sopranos and as controversial. Even so, it was a gig to be remembered forever. If Neil ever comes back to grace us with his messiah-like presence, I'll be in that number.

Anonymous said...

Malahide was superb, before i rant about how good i thought Neil was, top marks to the support who fitted in beautifully, The Frames especially - Neil truly did have some work to do after their beautiful set.

What is this 'problem with sound' rubbish! I was up almost at the front, my first Neil Young gig and well overdue (Fan for over 17 years). I know almost every word, to every song, on every album, and getting a perfect set list from Neil is impossible, too many favourites, too many albums, truly impossible to please everyone. The mixed set list worked for me personally on so many levels - Powderfinger, old man, ive been waiting for you, needle and the damge done, unknown legend, well it all just seemed 'right'. A beautiful mix of acoustic and downright mental feedback grunge that only he can pull off.

Legend is the only word for the man, the location was sublime, and SUNNY HURRAH, as for one of the previous reviews 'missed the cup final to watch Neil' ooooo i could throttle you. Why did you not get up to the front with the rest of us and relish every single second of the gig. I whooped, hollered, sang along and relished the atmosphere with all the other gang, a big shout to all of you around me who put up with my loud 'i am gonna sing every word' (badly:):) Singing 'old man' 'unknown legend' and 'powderfinger' with everyone around me was sublime..

As for ending with the beatles number and trashing the guitair, the anger, a real anti-war protest for me, a seething angry number.

He left me dumbstruck and satisfied. My dream of seeing Neil has been fulfilled, and long may he run (sorry it had to be said!).

Just one last quick point, try getting a young aspiring teenage guitarist to play that gig, Neil has energy and power like no other. I would have to sleep for a week if i put that much energy and power into a performance. Legenddddddddddd, love ya Neil.

Offload said...

Saw him in Cork on Monday night and I was delighted that Neil still has it. The high point of the night was an excellent "Words" which transported us to another plane. The steel guitar was outstanding. My personal taste is for the crazy horse electric NY over the acoustic - so i was in heaven. OK yeah if he reduced a couple of guitar solos by 10 or 15 minutes he could have played more songs. (My wife was bitterly dissapointed by the omission of Powderfinger - her favorite - and he has been playing it right through the tour including Malahide). But That is Neil Young and especially that is Electric Neil Young. I love the long rambling guitar solos but I agree that at times they go too long. A friend of mine who was not a Neil Young fan but came along with his wife who is, put it very well when trying to moderate the argument between myself and my wife as to whether it was brilliant (my veiw) or boring(my wife's view). He said he didn't like NY before the concert but he does now.

Anonymous said...

Just to add my 2p.

Neil was excellent in Cork too on Monday Night. High point was extended version of Words which blew me away. Yeah you could lop 10 minutes off a few solos here and there and lose nothing. But that's NY. He's not The Boss, He's not Leonard Cohen. As I read about another gig he lumbered around the stage with all the charm of a recently stunned bear. He did and we loved it.

Anonymous said...

You sir, are an idiot!

First of all, learn to write.
Secondly, you along with many other idiots, namely Roisin Dwyer from Hot Press, should never compare Neil Young to the likes of Bruce Springstein. One is a musical veteran while the other is a crowd pleasing, greatest hits swindling, glorified sell out.
Lastly, your a waste of webspace

Seánaí said...

bit over excited there. i think the bruce springsteen 'comparisons' came about because it (the RDS, outdoor) is quite a similar sound setup and venue. At least, that's how I meant it.

Anonymous said...

To the angry person above.
There's no need to knock Springsteen to praise Young. The two are totally different singers. I love both artists equally. How is 'The ghost of Tom Joad' selling out or crowd pleasing??? And it's Springsteen, not Springstein. You, learn how to write. Sorry, it had to be said.

cmc said...

I totally agree with the review I was bitterly disappointed,I thought for most of the concert the audience might as well not have been there, Neil Young was being totally self indulgent and selfish...hey Neil we paid £80 for a ticket. He was more interested in jamming with the group and throwing guitars around the stage that engaging with the audience. The acoustic numbers were great but 27 mins for one number and to end with a beatles song!!!!