[Image from http://www.spareroom.co.nz%5D
Its been a long time coming, twenty odd years, give or take, that I have been waiting to see one of the few people in music who I can honestly say changed my life.
Neil Young, born November 12th 1945, rock and roll legend, guitar hero, Canadian, and more recently cited as the Godfather of Grunge, for his highly influential distinctive sonically distorted guitar riffage and who played last Friday night to a packed Ericsson Stadium of adoring fans young, old and possibly elderly.
Upon arrival it was immediately obvious that even in my rush to get a good spot I was not nearly as keen as some folk who must have camped out a good hour before me, as at least half of the ground between the entrance barriers and stage was already chocka, with still an hour and a half to go. Following a blinding set by the Arctic Monkeys and a very short wait (the BDO does a great scheduling job). The moment arrived as Neil Young and his band (back up singers, steel guitar, piano and organ, rhythm guitar, banjo, bass and drums) stepped on stage and made everyone’s year with a set that sent emotions raising, as thunderous applause, tears, and general adoration flooded throughout the stadium. Running through a lifetime of greatest hits he moved seamlessly between electric and acoustic, busting out ‘Old Black’ (his 1953 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop) for the heavier numbers. Highlights included Powderfinger, Cinnamon Girl, Hey Hey My My (into the black), Needle and the damage done, Heart of Gold (a cute moment, when his harmonica stand broke and he had to start again, apologising to the crowd, who applauded all the harder, as if to say “You can do anything Neil”) Old Man and the wonderful Cortez the Killer (As soon as the guitar riff kicked in, I almost burst into tears).
Playing better than anyone I have seen that is half his age and with the professionalisim and ease of the seasoned player that he is Neil Young is still rocking hard in the free world and I thank the Big Day Out for having given us the opportunity to be part of one of the most wonderful live gigs I have had the pleasure to attend.
MZA January 2009