Neil Young Concert Review

Milwaukee, WI, 06/19/2003

By Brian Sleeman

Neil Young News

greendale curtain call milwaukee061903
Greendale in Milwaukee - 6/19/03, Neil Young and Crazy Horse
More Greendale pix in Milwaukee, WI 6/19/03 by Stacey.

Originally posted on rust@yahoo.


First off, this was my first official Rustie gathering and I was
extremely pleased to meet Daryl, Chuck, Steve (& brothers), Pauline, Stuart
Lindsay, Mary (the Black Queen), Cliff (Dr. Concert), and Bruce at the
Milwaukee Ale House. After a few minutes of wandering around the place I found
myself in front of a "More Barn!" shirt smartly worn by Rust Fest organizer
Steve Dittman...recognizing my early case of senility and confusion (more
on that later) he asked if I was there for the Rust Fest. With that I met
Pauline again, Mary, and all of the others mentioned above. I think there
may have been a few others in there that I'm forgetting (again, senility at an
early age) - my apologies.

After meeting Stuart and his friend at the Ale House around 6:30, I
bummed a ride off of him to the Marcus, a venue I had not experienced in
person before. We had a great parking spot, Stuart said hi to a few of the
million friends he inevitably runs into no matter where he goes, and we
proceeded into the gig. Stuart gave me a brief history of Summerfest and how
it evolved from what was basically a block party for a few thousand
people to the gigantic, multi-stage tourist party trap it is today. The story
concluded just as we'd entered the main gates. The weather was
beautiful - crystal clear skies which meant 60 degree temps at 7 pm were going to
give way to the low 50s by the show's close.


Thankfully Lucinda had not yet started, and with the assistance of a
few ushers I found my spot in Section 2, Seat 32 (thanks again to Steve
Blank for securing that ticket for me!). I was parked there next to a
couple whose names I never learned but with whom I enjoyed the rest of the

Shortly after sitting down I was joined to my right side by Daryl.
Not long after, out came Lucinda and band....

Being a Rustie-made Lucinda fan, I was really looking forward to her
set, and she really delivered the goods. I'd heard mixed things about how
much of a stage presence she had, but she was doing fine in Milwaukee.
She opened up with a few of the more ballad-based tunes from her recent
albums, including "Drunken Angel" and "Ventura" (the line that goes `put Neil
Young on and turn up the sound' got some applause). She prefaced "Car
Wheels On a Gravel Road" with the introduction, "This is a song I wrote about my
childhood in the south," and it was very well-received.

Mostly it was an uphill battle as she played "Still I Long For Your
Kiss," though, as the Marcus crowd was a bit rowdy and impolite during her
set - at least from my perspective. The people in my area treated her with
respect and a good reception (the couple to my left even guessed the entire
setlist), but I heard a handful of loud boos from the back when she
sang lyrics that mentioned her leaving, etc. It was in very poor taste.
Equally poor was the bouncing beach ball during "Still I Long For Your
Kiss." I pulled two of those out of the air at Farm Aid last year and would've
done the same with this one if it had come close enough. The audience
took a bit of joy in watching the handful of ushers chase it around for a few
minutes, which distracted them from some pretty excellent music. "Still I
Long" has some great vocals, particularly, but really all of Lucinda's stuff is
incredible. Her guitarist threw in some great guitar, though, and
revealed quite a collection including a silver Les Paul, a few Fenders,
Gibsons, and a Rickenbacher.

Then Lucinda said, "This is a song Tom Petty did a real cool version
of," and launched into "Changed the Locks," a powerful rocker that really
got the crowd's attention. I hadn't heard this before (it's off her self-
titled first album), but I just got another reason to complete my Lucinda
collection. Afterwards she said, "Obviously you wanna rock..I was
competing with a beach ball for the ballads." With that, she played some more
rocky material in the form of "Joy," "Essence," and "Real Live Bleeding
Fingers & Broken Guitar Strings." She mentioned several times how much she
appreciated everyone turning out to see her as the opening act, and
how much of an honor it was to open for Neil & the Horse. "It doesn't get any
better than that," she said, and was off the stage.

The roadies (all clad in dark gas station green uniforms) came out to
nab all of her instruments, and slowly but surely Neil's crew came out
with his equipment. The mic stands are very unique for this tour, and not
just Neil's - all of them are made from a silver metal with formatted
holes and bend severely back toward the performer, looking like something from
a 1950's sci-fi flick. Neil's is bent more severely than all the
rest, and at the front about two feet off the stage is the megaphone, which
rotates back and forth when used. The mouthpiece actually includes three
mics for harmonica, vocals, and megaphone. Already people in the crowd were
looking around in wonder at what they were about to receive. The jail to the
left of the stage and porch/house to the right were still covered by black
curtains suspended from the ceiling. At the rear of the stage was an
elevated second stage (similar to the one Roger Waters used on
the '99 and 2000 tours, for those of you who saw him) where a lot of the action
over the course of the next few hours would take place.

I was sitting in the fifth row between the jail and Pancho's mic, and got a glimpse of Ben as he
was wheeled around behind the stage. It wasn't long before he emerged
near the mixing board to the left of the jail. He was joined by Elliot
Roberts, easily recognizable in his usual denim garb and white hair. Elliot
hung around and seemed to be talking about the venue seating with another
accomplice, pointing frequently toward the lawn, looking around at
the back sections of the pavilion, etc. Meanwhile, Larry brought out Neil's
guitar (not Old Black, but the gold one) and set it up center stage for
Neil. As the house lights dimmed, the curtains were lifted from the jail and
porch, and the screen at the center of the top stage read "greendale,"
written on a photo of the map that appears on the official site.


Billy, Pancho, and Ralph came out first and were soon after followed
by Neil, who appropriately received a standing ovation. With just a
slight wave of acknowledgement, Neil started noodling around on the guitar
and moved right into "Falling From Above." It was a treat to finally
hear this live for myself, and I have to agree with most everyone else's
comments that the whole album comes off better electric than it does acoustic. I
can relate to Mary's comment about the acting as well; Larry had the
lip-synching down almost perfectly, and talked primarily toward Jed,
but the "addressing the audience" thing seemed a bit awkward. It was clear
that all of the actors had gotten their parts down since the start of the
tour, though. All of them did an excellent job of lip-synching and
performing at just the right cue.

Back to the songs..I thought I might prefer "The Double E" done
acoustically, but yet again I was impressed with how well it came off
on electric. Neil started by saying they would be playing some new
songs, briefly explained the basic concept behind Greendale (ie the basic
family tree, the town's geography, etc). He introduces Sun Green as a good
girl, "a good student. She's at home doing her homework right now while
the rest of us are out having fun.she's reading a book called `How to Use the
Media,' written by some lawyer from California. She's working on her term
paper.she's a little late on it..called `Saving Alaska.'"

This is also the song where the dancing theme began, with Sun in her
bedroom, "hot enough to burn the house down," dancing around to the
endless blues riffs. Grandma also appears and does some driving with the
help of a big white cutout car and the movie screen on top. Most of the time
the screen was used for what I presume is the footage from
the "Greendale" DVD - most of it is grainy super 8, it often features similar vehicles and
at least similar-looking characters. To that end it was used extremely
well and really complemented all the live action taking place on the
stage. The devil character did a great job, particularly, but all of them were
quite good. Neil preceded "The Devil's Sidewalk" by describing the devil
himself, as the kind of guy who likes to appear in the mirror when old ladies
look at their reflection, then disappears across the street to laugh his ass
off when they turn around to find him. "That's just the kind of guy he
is," Neil said. "The Devil's Sidewalk" has a definite sea-faring feel to
its lead riff, and it features a lot of great acting. Captain Green is
lecturing his crew, and as they turn around to walk into town, the
giant screen projects an approaching road and background to give the
appearance that the crew are actually moving into town.

Neil's guitar playing on this tour is in a different vein than
anything he's done before. I kind of expected him to do some roaring, feedback-
laden solos on a lot of the Greendale songs (he's with the Horse, after
all), but he instead delivered big-time on melody and atmosphere. There were a
lot of abbreviated notes in the solos, a lot of continual riffs and themes,
etc - in short, it was very impressive. Stuart and I discussed this to an
extent afterwards and agreed that he's just continuing to challenge himself
as a guitar player, and it shows. It was really beautiful stuff. He was
also very much the storyteller, and I wondered how much of that he'd do
compared with the long speeches in Europe. The crowd was surprisingly
attentive, and the ones who didn't like it at least didn't say anything about it.
There was a noisy bunch of people to Neil's right, back in the second
section of the covered seating, whom he addressed before "The Devil's Sidewalk"
as part of the Green family who have bad blood with Captain John Green. I
was really impressed with how great an attitude and approach he has on
this tour. He's really laid-back, witty, serious at the right times of
the story, and comedic (sometimes darkly) during others. Neil the
storyteller is back in full form.

"Leave the Driving" was probably my favorite track off the first half
of the album. Neil preceded it with some comments as the billboard
with "Clear Channel" on top and "SUPPORT OUR WAR" on the bottom was revealed on
the giant screen. He talked about how many times the Greendale city
commissioners met to decide what color to make the "Leaving
Greendale" sign.

"They eventually figured green would be a good color for it," he
said, again to the amusement of the crowd. He mentioned that Carmichael
didn't mind the Clear Channel billboard all that much since it gave him a
new spot to park his cruiser and meet his weekly quota of arrests. During the
song, Jed gets pulled over (with some great blue light cop effects), has
his car searched, and of course shoots officer Carmichael once his gun is

The sound effect for the gun blast was a bit late, but Jed and
Carmichael improvised it well and made it look like they were struggling with
their weapons while they waited for the sound man.

After Jed is in jail talking with Grandpa, the main screen moves to
footage of Bush, the Congress, Ashcroft, and Tom Ridge as he goes through the
verses that introduce the song's title and include the line, "and you can do
your part by watching others too." This got a great response from the
crowd and was one of the highlights for me - an example of Neil at his absolute

Ditto with the "some people are taking pure bullshit, and turned it
into gold" line spoken "as an afterthought." It's interesting to watch
Grandpa change his whole approach toward life as the album progresses - from
the opening optimism speaking about "love and affection," to the
pessimism of "Leave the Driving," to the desire for a return to anonymity at the
end of the album. Larry does a commendable job of portraying all the
different emotions and attitudes.

"Carmichael" follows the song up perfectly. This one involves a lot
of acting, including Carmichael's widow at the grave, her best friends
in their room discovering the envelope of money for Lanore, and Carmichael's
fellow officers speaking at his funeral. This was all very well-done, and
Neil jamming away with the Horse featured some of the most melodic and
extended playing of the night. The lyrics were great as always too,
particularly with Ms. Carmichael's detailed account of their old vacations. "We
saw Wayne Newtown down on Pebble Beach and you acted like a fool" - so
Neil does know what it's like to approach one of your celebrity heroes and feel
like you're babbling like a fool. But my favorite song from the entire
album has to be "Bandit," for the amazingly sung chorus if nothing else.

Neil introduced this one with his talk about Earl's paintings,
specifically how they're all psychedelic and that he hasn't sold any of them. He
continues to paint them though, night and day, and occasionally Sun
stops in to watch. To paraphrase, if you look at them for very long, you
start to see things move around and begin to hear voices. Neil then says that
a scary part of the show is coming up, referring (I assume) to playing
solo in front of the entire crowd (similar to what Paul McCartney said before
doing the same on his tour last year). He sat down on the right side of
the stage, said, "I know you've seen me do this before," and immediately
launched into the deep, dark acoustic strums that recall "Don't Let
It Bring You Down," for what is probably my favorite new song from the
Greendale album. What an incredible song this is. I have never heard Neil's
voice sound as hauntingly good as it did during the higher recitations of
"'ll find..everything you're looking for." It was enough
to bring me near tears, and got an amazing response from the rest of the

If Shawn is considering tracks for his next tour comp already, I
wouldn't mind if this particular performance made it. It stands up there with
the "Rocking in the Free World," "Old Man," and "Southern Man" I saw with
CSNY in Milwaukee in 2002, the "Love and Only Love" from Farm Aid 2001,
and very few others. This was one of several Greendale songs that earned Neil
a standing ovation. Neil responded with "You're a great audience," at
least four or five times throughout the night.

Larry continued to impress as Grandpa in "Grandpa's Interview,"
hidden away in a cottage out of town before being tracked down by the ever-
intrusive media. As Bruce mentioned, he gets a close-up as he falls on the
porch, and then later Grandma shows up in the funereal "Bringin' Down Dinner"
wondering what Grandpa is doing on all of the TVs in the news station vans.

This big downer is a tough thing to overcome so quickly in the plot,
not to mention musically, but they do the best they can in two songs with
Sun Green's sudden protest at Power Co and the vibrant closer, "Be the

The audience got a real kick out of the authentic-looking suits
demanding that Sun come down from the eagle and end her disruption. Was it
Carmichael's partner that eventually lead her away? Musically this
is one of my least favorites on the album, and although I didn't care much
for the use of the megaphone in the solo tour, it's a little more suited to
the electric versions. I would prefer it not be used at all, but it
really works well with this song in particular for the dramatics. The
audience started getting the whole concept of the story at this point, and got
heavily into Sun's "Hey Mr. Clean, you're dirty now too" chants.
There were a pair of kids in the first or second row directly in front of Neil
who danced through this entire song while the rest of the place was

"Be the Rain" was excellent with the whole cast back out, and I
really preferred it this way due to all of the energy the Horse provides. I
didn't care a whole lot for the dancers (the shirtless guys in front of me
wore extremely serious "dance your ass into the ground" looks you might
expect on rejected American Idol tryout tapes), but to each their own. Neil
even did the intense face off on guitar with one of the guy dancers, which
must have been a thrill for that actor. For me they were more of a distraction
from the incredible music and narrative, which at this point had regained
full strength. The Imitators were cranking it out on the top stage with
broom handles and a bucket for the drummer; does anyone else think they
look exactly like the Drive-By Truckers? I couldn't help but think of
Patterson and Cooley while looking at the two guys on lead broom. The guy on
the right was a dead ringer for Patterson especially, right down to the
clothing. When they stopped playing and came back down to the bottom
stage to join the rest of the cast, the skinnier Imitator broom player (is
this Zeke?) wheeled out Ben on the left side and pumped his fist for him
in time with the rest of the cast. I couldn't help but feel the joy for Ben
as he shared the stage with his dad and all of the rest - Neil gave him a
big, broad smile as he bounced around on stage on guitar. Crazy Horse
gave the song their typical bring-the-house-down closing, by which time all of
the audience has gotten up and were a full part of the show. The
standing ovation continued throughout the full cast bows, and the stage was
full of grins. Everyone then left save for a few stage hands, one of which
was still dressed as one of Carmichael's fellow police officers. It was
amusing to see him in uniform fiddling around with Neil's gear to get it
ready for the encores.


Not long after the black curtains were returned to the stage props,
the large TV screen began airing silent footage from the "Rust Never
Sleeps" film. The crowd responded as if the band had already returned, and
it was clear among those who had expected a greatest hits show that they
were about to get a taste of what they came for. The band returned to the
stage, and Pancho grabbed his guitar. Neil quickly motioned above for the
famous flying keyboards to be lowered, and after a short wait, they launched
into the jam that precedes the main riff of "Like a Hurricane." This went
on for a few minutes, accented by the same old flashing lights, while Neil
waited for just the right moment to drop the riff in there and send the
crowd into another frenzy. By this time, the couple in front of us who had
remained seated in silent protest throughout the entire Greendale set had
gotten up and were saying "Now THIS is more like it." It felt like only a few
of us knew what song was coming, when suddenly Old Black wailed out those
familiar notes, and everyone went nuts. The Horse jammed on for what seemed
like an unusually long time before Neil ended up getting up to the mic to
begin the vocals. This was going to be a rendition unlike any I'd ever heard
before on the many live discs I have; it had the usual drama and crashing of
all instruments at once, but Neil also brought it down to moments of
extreme relative quiet, as if taking us from wall of the storm, through the
eye, and then back again. In the end it seemed like a shorter version than
usual as well, which I thought might've been good news in the form of a few
extra encore songs.

After about a minute of re-tuning, Neil lead them into "Hey Hey, My
My," and once again the familiar opening riff brought the house down. This
was the first time I had heard any of the songs he would play tonight in
person, and I loved every minute of it. It was amazing to be able to finally
sing along to Neil on these old classics after doing so so many times to the CD
player in the past. This was probably a standard rendition of HHMM, but can
you ever really call a Neil & the Horse performance "standard?" To me it
felt unbelievably good, and reinforced my opinion that this song is one of
the best tracks to be played live by anyone. Neil put on a lengthy solo
on the end, and Old Black sounded a little bit smoother than usual, but was
back to its dark ways by the very long bash-up of a finish. It was the kind
of finish that made you wonder whether or not you were going to get any
more songs as Neil left the stage.

A long standing ovation brought them back about five minutes later,
with that opening strum of Old Black dragging them into the Old West (or
is it Southern?) history lesson for 22 year-olds that is "Powderfinger."
The guitar solos seemed a bit more low-key and sadder than usual, and it
wasn't the cleanest performance of this song, but as I mentioned, it was
great to take this in for myself for the first time. After only a few seconds
they went into the sing-a-long of "Roll Another Number," and it felt like
the night was starting to come to a close. The crowd seemed to be giving
the band the kind of attention and response they often reserve for the
last song of the night, a sort of comprehensive "thanks for a great night" send-

There's not much to be said for the performance of this song, other
than that it sounded just like it always does, but again it was great to
hear for myself.

But wait.what's this? Neil is messing around a bit on Old Black to
draw out those last notes, and then suddenly there it is - a familiar riff,
but this is Crazy Horse - what could this possibly be? Neil waited a bit for
Ralph to figure out the beat (which he didn't really get right), and
suddenly it was "Oh hello Mr. Soul I dropped by to pick up a reason." and the
crowd went nuts yet again. What a thrill it was to hear this one live.
Granted, this was the sloppiest performance of this song I'd ever heard, but for me
it was one of the highlights of the night. It's one of my favorites
regardless of the credit due to the Stones for its musical inception, and it was to
the best of my knowledge the first electric performance of the song with
Crazy Horse since 1987. It was a fitting way to end the night, and Neil
gave it a great Crazy Horse ending with some near-taps playing on Old Black.
The band left the stage again with a few waves on their way out, and then the
house lights came up and Greensleeves was playing over the PA again.


I exited the Marcus Ampitheater in typical concert-closing fashion, a
messed single-file jumble of people slowly but surely making their way up
the steps toward the exits. I listened for post-concert thoughts, which were
mostly very positive, chatted a bit more with Daryl about the night as he
walked just behind me, and tried in vain to explain to the wife from the
couple who were sitting in front of me (the silent protesters) the concept
behind Greendale, why it was such a "Neil thing" to do for him to play it in
its entirety, etc. She would have none of it and said she didn't like it
at all, but thought that the end of the show was great. I said goodbye
to Daryl, bought a white "Neil Young & Crazy Horse" t-shirt (the one
with the 2001 Eurotour picture on it), and began the memory check to see if I
could figure out where Stuart had parked.

I figured I had better walk quickly because I might have to check
more than one of the lots. Sure enough, after trying the first lot and
failing, I tried another - and failed. And another, and another, and was soon
resigned to the fact that I wasn't going to be finding him. At this point I
decided to try to get back to the Ale House (and my car) myself, and began
walking among the other attendees toward the downtown area. Most of them got
into their cars and took off, and after about fifteen minutes and a quick
directions discussion with one of the parking lot attendants, I began
walking solo down a dark and quiet street toward where I hoped I
would find the Ale House and parking deck. There were a couple of guys standing
near a car a hundred yards or so ahead of me, so I thought I might ask them
if they knew with certainty how to reach the Ale House.

As I got closer I recognized one of them as Mark Strand, a Rustie
friend of mine, and that stroke of luck earned me a gracious ride from him in
his car back to the Ale House. We talked briefly about the show, and he
mentioned that he thought Milwaukee was better than the Chicago gig he had seen
a few nights before. Mark was seeing five concerts in five days - Neil and
the Horse three times and Pearl Jam twice. We bid farewell once we
reached the Ale House, I thanked him for the ride, and it was off to try to reach
Stuart on his cell phone to explain what happened (left a message with him -
we were going to play golf the next morning and had to arrange those

I found my car and headed back out on the road and back to the
hotel. About a minute into the short trip I found myself right behind Neil's bus
with the familiar Florida "Zuma" license plate. I followed that for a few
minutes until he veered off toward I-94 and I continued north on 43. It was
a weird way to end the great night.


Lucinda Williams

1. Drunken Angel
2. Ventura
3. Car Wheels On a Gravel Road
4. I Lost It
5. Still I Long for Your Kiss
6. Righteously
7. Changed the Locks
8. Essence
9. Real Live Bleeding Fingers and Broken Guitar Strings
10. Joy

Neil Young

1. Falling from Above
2. Double E
3. Devil's Sidewalk
4. Leave the Driving
5. Carmichael
6. Bandit
7. Grandpa's Interview
8. Bringin' Down Dinner
9. Sun Green
10. Be the Rain

First Encore
11. Like a Hurricane
12. Hey Hey, My My

Second Encore
13. Powderfinger
14. Roll Another Number
15. Mr. Soul


Stuart and I did manage to touch base the next morning, and we played
golf at Milwaukee Country Club the next day. Perfect weather, a great
golf course, great company, and the occasional good shots made for yet
another memorable day. Stuart was gracious beyond belief and I can't thank
him enough for everything on the trip - the ride to the Marcus, being
such a great host at his club, and the great conversation afterwards. If
there is anyone more knowledgeable about rock and roll and its history since
the late `60s than Stuart Lindsay, I have yet to meet them. He is also an
outstanding example of a great Rustie and friend - thanks again,

Neil Young Greendale

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