Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Neil Young rocks Constitution Hall with solo concert of old and new

When the Good Lord was passing out musical talent I musta been behind the door. I can't even play a radio without help.

But whatever lack of talent I got, Neil Young got a double dose. Like Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and a few other old rockers, the man just keeps writing new songs and performing them when most of their contemporaries are either dead and gone or content to play their "oldie goldies" in concert.

Young played a solo concert in Washington, D.C., Monday with an even mix of the old and a full dose of new ballads.
He sang about war in the '70s, went electronic in the early '80s, formed a grunge superpower alliance with Pearl Jam in the '90s and sang about war again in the '00s. He'll play his hits, but you can tell his heart is always with what's next.

His solo performance Monday at Constitution Hall -- where he toggled between acoustic and electric guitar, pump organ and piano -- was a sort of compromise. Half of the set consisted of '70s classics: "My My Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)," "Tell Me Why," "Helpless." (And that was just the opening trio.) The rest of the songs were brand new, unreleased compositions that have been debuted on his current week-old tour. 
 I don't agree with his political views, but it sounds like Young doesn't even agree with himself sometimes.
"I sang for justice and I hit a bad chord/But I still try to sing about love and war," he offered in his standard warble on "Love and War," a meandering acoustic number that almost seemed like an apology for his 2006 Iraq war protest album, "Living With War."
But you gotta admire a man who has battled with epilepsy his whole career and signs in at hotels as "Bernard B. Shaky." He laughs at himself and the world and just keeps on rocking. Rock on forever Neil.

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