Neil Young and Crazy Horse at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
Neil Young and Crazy Horse at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Heidi Costello

Neil Young should have stuck to oldies rather than new 'noise'

WHEN I was offered Neil Young tickets I jumped at the chance to take my dad along, knowing how much of a fan he was.

Yes. Was. I'm not sure he's nearly as big a fan anymore.

My dad's in his 60s and, as he's become older, obviously hasn't kept up with Neil and Crazy Horse's newer stuff so much.

For those who like grungy, feedback-riddled jam sessions, I'm sure the show was great. There were plenty of young people down in general admission with us who were obviously enjoying it. But the bulk of the crowd was from my dad's generation, and, from the looks on the faces of people we walked past as we left early and the reactions of the people we spoke to as we exited, they didn't enjoy it quite so much.

The show began with some rather amusing theatrics as a group of 'mad scientist' dressed roadies unveiled a very impressive set complete with giant amp, speaker and microphone props.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
Neil Young and Crazy Horse at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Heidi Costello

Neil and Crazy Horse then joining the 'mad scientists' on stage for a rendition of Advance Australia Fair before kicking the night off. They started with newer material, which I suppose was to be expected when they have a new album out. It was quite good to listen to and dad was bobbing and singing along.

But the enjoyment level dropped considerably for us after about the third song when they launched into what must have been at least 15 minutes worth of self-gratifying noise-making. Neil and Poncho were obviously enjoying themselves as they jammed away and played with the screaming feedback.

Don't get me wrong, sure, there's a time and a place for this in a rock concert. But the length of time that it went on soon made it boring and I felt nauseous. By the time this finished it was about 45 minutes into the show and we had only heard three songs - none of which had set the crowd on fire.

There was a brief reprieve when he strapped on the acoustic and gave a the crowd a little taste of the old Neil Young that I think so many had hoped for. Heart of Gold got everyone singing along and was really nicely done. Dad also really enjoyed Singer Without a Song which he played on the piano. Both the acoustic and the piano looked like they'd done a million miles, but sounded great.

But very quickly it was back to the wall of sound and the headache-inducing feedback wail. We could see quite a lot of people starting to walk out, but hung around in the hope that there might be a bit more of a glimpse of some of his 'good old stuff'.

Hey Hey My My was delivered, but he killed it… And not in a good way. As soon as it descended into another gratuitous jam session, dad and I decided that we'd seen enough and would rather not get stuck in an hour-long traffic jam to get out of the place just to hear more songs we probably didn't know and wouldn't enjoy.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
Neil Young and Crazy Horse at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Heidi Costello

As we walked up towards the exit I took note of the expressions on the faces of those seated around the aisle. Most I saw were older and most had their chin rested on their hand and looked a little bored/perplexed.

There was those who were singing along and even a couple standing, but considering the song that had just been played, it certainly wasn't the reaction that you would have expected.

As we walked out we spoke to a couple of other people who were all shaking their heads in disappointment. Dad stopped and spoke to a young guy selling programs and asked if they had had much feedback. His reaction - "Yeah, I heard a lot of people saying it was shit."

Granted, Neil and Crazy Horse continue to do new stuff and yes, they would want to play it at their concerts rather than dwelling in the past.

However, like it or not, there's a lot of people out there who are really big fans of the older stuff. If the concert had simply been a little more balanced and given a few more of the oldies, they could have kept everyone happy.

He could have fit plenty more of them in if they'd just cut down what dad described as 'a penultimate tsunami of noise'.



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