Neil Young Concert Review
Greendale Tour, Melbourne, Australia - November 22, 2003
by Matt Webber
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A Neil Young and Crazy Horse concert review of the 2003 Greendale Tour in Melbourne, Australia by Matt Webber.
Thought you may be interested in knowing what went on at Neil and Crazy's show down here in Melbourne last weekend.
The Melbourne show was the last of his short 'three shows in three nights in three cities' Australian tour, and followed a series of Japanese tour dates. I understand that Neil hadn't been here since about 1990 or so, and my nearest live experience to date had been obsessive repeat viewings of a well worn "Rust Never Sleeps" video, so I was pretty excited about it all.
The show was held at the Myer Music Bowl, a fantastic venue by any standards. It is an outdoor ampitheatre nestled in the middle of the beautiful Melbourne Botanical Gardens which are adjacent to the Yarra River just outside of the CBD. It truly is a spectacular spot to see music. Great sound, sensational ambience, and there is always a real buzz humming about the crowd when something special is going on.
Neil and Co were supported by a local lass called Lisa Miller and her band. Apparently Neil was keen to have a lady kick off his shows, and i'm told he hand-picked Miller out of a bunch of sample cd's sent to him pre-tour. Lisa Miller will mean very little to non-Australians, but she is creating a bit of a stir locally with her lovely bell-like voice, heartfelt lyrics and wonderfully warm stage presence. She deserved the gig, she and her band played terrifically well and the scene was well and truly set for the main event when on finishing her set she said she hoped we enjoy the show.
After what seemed like an eternity (but in fact was only about 30 minutes), Neil and the band casually ambled onto the stage. Neil tossed Blackie's strap over his shoulder, and without so much as a 'hello' slipped into the loping rhythm of "Falling from Above". I was gone, hook , line and sinker...Thankfully the rest of the crowd was too.
Greendale has had split reviews locally. Some, like me, think it is among Neil's best work. Other's have found it a little drab and - dare I say it - pretentious. However, whatever your view on the studio effort, you couldn't deny that live, the political undertone of the material really leaps out at you, and it's old timey messages of hope, love, and respect are plain for all to see.
The bluesy swagger of "Double E" got feet a-tappin' and the energy from the audience was palpable. Neil was playing up with Billy Talbot, and both of them were rockin' side to side like a couple of funky gorillas clearly having a ball. It was great to see. When the stage lights shone onto the crowd, from where I stood (upper stage right) all you could make out was what seemed like a million grinning faces swinging side to side. The punters were loving it !
I won't go into too much detail in relation to the rest of the Greendale setlist.. It is what it is, and most readers of this will have seen it or heard about it already. But I will make special mention of "Bandit". A truly timeless and beautiful song delivered with a burning intensity that brought tears to my eyes in a flash. And I wasn't the only one.
After the final strains of the anthemic finale "Be the Rain", the band took a ridiculously short break before returning to rapturous applause.
A quick "Thank you" and ol' Shakey slipped into a simply stunning "Hey Hey My My" which even at 15 minutes could have gone on longer, perennial crowd pleaser "All Along the Watchtower", a thunderous "Powderfinger", and "Love and Only Love". His encore set included "Like a Hurricane" and "Rockin' in the Free World". As I expected, All songs were preceded with or followed by wailing walls of feedback and wild electrical storms of amplified mayhem. All part of the show and I doubt anyone else could pull it off so seamlessly.
"Be the Rain", Neil encouraged us with a friendly wave as he and his comrades trudged off in to the darkness.
Think I might try !
Hope everyone else enjoys their experience as much as I did.
All the best,
Matt Webber, Melbourne, Australia.
Neil Young and Crazy Horse - 11-22-2003, Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Greendale: Falling From Above, Double E, Devil's Sidewalk, Leave The Driving, Carmichael, Bandit, Grandpa's Interview, Bringing Down Dinner, Sun Green, Be The Rain
Encore #1: Hey Hey, My My / All Along The Watchtower / Powderfinger / Love And Only Love
Encore #2: Like A Hurricane / Rockin' In The Free World
For more Greendale setlists from 2003 tour, see Sugar Mountain.
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